The virus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have put antibacterial and disinfectant products very much at the forefront of shoppers’ minds.
Everyone can remember the bizarre surge in demand for toilet rolls last March, but pretty much every sub-category within the personal care and household cleaning market has been impacted in some way by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
The toilet roll surge meant that the home care category saw significant growth of 12% year-on-year, but it is in the areas of anti-bacterial and disinfectant products that the impact of the pandemic has been most marked, with sales of bleach up 30%, disinfectants up 61%, hand wash up 162% and hand disinfectants up 720% during the year, the latter driven by the Carex and Enliven brands [all figures: Nielsen].
Matt Stanton, Head of Category and Insight at specialist wholesaler DCS Group, says: “The importance of anti-bacterial and disinfectant products has been the biggest change to the home care market in 2020.
“According to research, 46% of consumers are using more anti-bacterial products in their home, 35% are using an anti-bacterial washing up liquid, and 25% are using anti-bacterial dish washer products (all Calayx research).”
“With the current anti-bacterial trend here to stay, retailers should ensure that they stock anti-bacterial variants within all key personal and home care care categories as part of an all year round core range. Where space allows, we recommend displaying anti-bacterial lines in an area of the store with high footfall to encourage impulse purchases.”
The antibacterial trend is clearly evident from some of the NPD launched into the market in the last year, notably Persil Antibacterial Laundry Sanitise – an incremental product designed to be used alongside consumers’ usual detergent and fabric conditioner – Febreze Anti-Bacterial Fabric Refresher, and a whole range of anti-bac lines under the Carex brand, including bar soap, hand & surface spray, wipes, hand cream and shower gels.
While antibacterial and virus protection products have been among the most visible new entrants to the market, other significant trends are emerging too, most notably the increasing consumer demand for sustainability.
“We are seeing an increase of biodegradable products in the market, along with the transition of mainstream products becoming more sustainable through both formula and packaging,” explains Stanton. “Persil has recently removed the dosing ball from their liquid bottles to cut down plastic use, and their latest Bio liquids are made from a plant-based formula, while we are also seeing refillable packaging solutions on best-selling lines such as Carex hand washes.”
With new financial pressures leading to more cautious shopping behaviours, value for money becomes a vital consideration. “Brand trust becomes important, and it is more important than ever to give customers peace of mind when shopping in store,” says Stanton. “Pricemarked packs are a fantastic way of doing this. Where PMPs are available, consider stocking these in place of straight packs.”
That said, the fact that people are going out much less during the pandemic means that they are also looking to treat themselves and improve the ambience in the home – through products such as air care and fabric softener – and by seeking out premium varieties.
Other things for retailers to keep on top of, continues Stanton, are trends within fragrances and the impact of social influencers on demand.
“Coconut has been a popular scent across home and personal care, with Surf, Comfort and hair care brand Tresemme all releasing coconut-scented products. Surf has a new ‘Watermelon Breeze’ scented liquid detergent which is likely to prove popular in 2021.
“Mrs Hinch continues to be a successful public figure, with her home care recommendations listened to by millions of followers,” he adds. “Lenor’s Spring Awakening fragrance has proved a favourite of hers, and now Bold has released a new Spring Awakening variant of their laundry pods, meaning there is now a full wash regime – pods, fabric conditioner, and fabric enhancers – available in this fragrance.”