Brands clean up

Across a range of items consumers are looking to save pennies by switching to low cost products. However, it appears that consumers are sticking with household brands and viewing them as value for money.

Paul Lettice, trade communications manager at Procter Gamble, says: “In the convenience channel, the average homecare category shopper visits their local store at least three times a week and spends roughly pound;42.60 over that period. If you compare this to the average convenience store shoppers’ weekly spend of pound;20.16, you can clearly see the importance of getting the category right in terms of ranging, layout and value, particularly when the homecare category is worth a massive pound;1.4bn in the UK overall.

“With the added pressure on consumer budgets in the current climate, shoppers are less trusting then ever before and don’t have spare funds for taking chances on ‘unknown’ brands. However, shoppers’ needs haven’t fundamentally changed, so they’re looking to category leading brands they trust, like Fairy and Flash, to provide choice, quality, innovation and value for money.”

Fairy Liquid has seen several changes this year with a ‘best ever’ formula that can last up to 50% longer launched in February along with new pack sizes. P G has also launched Fairy Platinum, a dual action liquid top, combining the Fairy ‘all in one’ cleaning power with a degreasing system that cleans the dishwasher as well as the dishes.

Lettice adds: “Designed to appeal to consumers searching for an easier way of life, and those who want to combine convenience with quality, Fairy Platinum delivers a multifunctional washing action and brilliant clean.”

Simon Fisher, senior category manager of Unilever UK, says: “The clothes care market is currently worth nearly pound;1.3bn in the UK. Consumers are looking for more from their laundry products and added benefits are key in this category as consumers look for products that offer more than just a reliable cleaning detergent.”

In 2007 Unilever launched its Small Mighty range and Fisher says: “The Small Mighty format has significant environmental benefits of reduced packaging and waste which appeal to consumers – the Persil Small Mighty 750ml bottle is made using 40% less packaging than other 1.5 litre standard liquid detergents.”

Another trend in the laundry category is fragrance and last month Unilever introduced Twilight Sensations to its Surf range in Jasmine Black Gardenia and Vanilla Black Orchid.

Caroline Monzani, brand building manager at Unilever, says: “Surf Twilight Sensations gives consumers a choice of luxurious fragrances and great formats at a value price that they expect from the Surf brand. We have been working with a world famous perfume house to launch Surf Twilight Sensations and are confident that the mysterious and enticing fragrances will be popular with shoppers.”

Fisher says: “There has been plenty of talk in the media about the apparent shift in consumer behaviour as consumers trade down for value yet laundry is bucking the trend as people have bought into innovation.”

Georgie Vallance, national account executive for Reckitt Benckiser UK (household), says: “Suffering the effects of economic decline; shoppers are more price sensitive than ever. Therefore suppliers and retailers need to provide innovative ways to compete in this enviroment.”

Reckitt Benckiser has been focusing on price-marked packs and the potential this provides for competitively priced cleaning product for convenience shoppers.

Vallance adds: “The introduction of price-marked packs has been a resounding success. Price-marked packs attract consumers because of the strong value message they convey. Thus, these key lines are a must-have for independents and associated cash and carries and wholesalers. We are now compiling our learning from the project and are looking at how we can develop the future wholesale offering.

“The wholesale channel is a key area to our business. It provides an invaluable service to the convenience retailer, which ensures the nationwide distribution of our products and their availability to all consumers.”

Last year 1001 re-launched its No Vac product range with a new design. The carpet and rug freshener aims to safely eliminate everyday trapped odours in a carpet and upholstery without the need to vacuum.

According to 1001, No Vac is the fastest growing brand in the carpet freshening category and currently holds a 33% share of the market.

David Whittome, head of marketing at 1001, says: “We have seen an increase in sales of our new No Vac range. Our No Vac range is ideal for keeping carpets, rugs and upholstery fresh and our range of carpet cleaning solutions means that there is something for almost any eventuality.”

Richard Davis, managing director of Kilrock Products, says: “Naturally the recession has taken its toll on all markets, including the cleaning products market. However as cleaning products are a general staple, sales are pretty resilient. The key difference has been that there has been a shift in customer focus as they become more cost-conscious. Green products which represent value for money are still real winners for retailers and wholesalers alike. The anti-packaging backlash is still going strong and customers are still keen to do their bit to help the environment.”

Kilrock Products has designed Aquo, a range of ‘eco-clever’ surface cleaners aiming to reduce packaging through the use of a refillable trigger head spray bottle which can be reused 20 times.

Davis says: “Wholesalers are vital to the success of our Kilrock products. We provide them with compact, good margin products that sell in the independent trade (mainly hardware/homeware/DIY) and they keep our product on shelf within their complex retailer networks.”

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=== DCS viewpoint ===

David Hughes, category manager of DCS, Wholesaler and distributor of household products

Of course the Household sector is a mature market and trading is relatively flat from a category perspective but our distributor model has made a difference to customers who are looking closely at buying terms in these recession hit times.

Suppliers see DCS as a cost effective route to market and many utilise the added value services DCS offers from its re-packing facility which range from:

l Adding stickers to brown boxes to make products more saleable in the cash and carry

l Repacking into smaller trays to help the independent retailer

l Consolidating into promotional display pallets

l Re-configuring products into new security conscious formats to reduce retail shrinkage.

One supplier whose products are enjoying growth is SC Johnson whose Mr Muscle range of cleaning products has been re-designed with a Super Scientist cartoon strip character used to promote the range of market leading products. DCS takes the Mr Muscle trigger cleaning range of Kitchen, Bathroom, Shower Shine and Window Cleaners that are delivered in brown boxes and applies full colour Mr Muscle sticker graphics so that the products stand out while on sale in the cash and carry which are often quite dark away from the checkout area.

Another supplier enjoying excellent growth with DCS is Procter Gamble which similarly uses case stickers to promote certain products.

It has also utilised the display pallet service to promote products such as Fairy Liquid. This is just one of a number of environment conscious product re-launches that it brought to market since the start of the year across its Laundry and Household product ranges.

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