Convenience Cleaning Tools
Convenience Cleaning Tools
NAICS: 33-9994 Broom, Brush, and Mop Manufacturing, 31-3230 Nonwoven Fabric Mills
SIC: 3991 Brooms and Brushes, 2392 Housefurnishings, not elsewhere classificed, 2297 Nonwoven Fabrics
NAICS-Based Product Codes: 33-99941 through 33-99941101, 33-99941311, and 33-99941316
Convenience cleaning tools are a relatively new product category emerging from the traditional manufacturing sector of Brooms, Brushes, and Mops. The brooms, brushes, and mops sector, referred to as stick goods, shipped more than $2 billion worth of products in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures. Convenience cleaning tools represent a growing portion of that total.
This essay will focus on convenience cleaning tools that contain disposable elements, including a number of specialized wipes. It will cover the home-cleaning market but not products produced for commercial and industrial cleaning.
Brushes were first made of natural materials such as hog bristles and horsehairs. Brooms generally began as birch and willow twigs and were home- and hand-made until the early 1800s. Some say that in 1797, Levi Dickenson, a farmer in Hadley, Massachusetts, made a broom for his wife from a variety of sorghum that he was growing for seeds, creating the first broom of this type. He and his sons began making and selling these new brooms, which were so popular that the sorghum became known as broomcorn straw. The Shakers soon began making brooms and are credited with inventing many improvements, including the flat broom. By about 1830, there were a number of one- and two-man broom shops in the United States, with about 60,000 brooms produced annually.
As the population moved west, it was discovered that broomcorn straw grew well in fertile Midwest fields, and the broom industry flourished with thousands of acres of broomcorn grown annually. Broom shops grew into broom factories, and the industry remains heavily concentrated in the Midwest even today. The introduction of new mass production techniques after World War II improved products and allowed for greater profitability. Plastics began to supplant broomcorn, with almost half of today's brooms now made of synthetic materials. Broomcorn brooms are considered superior by many because broomcorn stalks actually absorb dirt and dust, wear extremely well, and are moisture-resistant. Broomcorn brooms are the most expensive of the manufactured brooms.
Mops come in two major categories—wet mops, used primarily to clean kitchen and bathroom floors, and dry or dust mops. In 1893, Thomas W. Steward, an African American inventor, patented a mop made of yarn with a wringing mechanism. In 1950 Peter Vosbikian, a prolific inventor, developed the Automatic Sponge Mop, a sponge mop that used a lever and flat strip of metal to press against the wet mop and squeeze it dry. The success of this invention led to the formation of the Quickie Manufacturing Corp. Mops were improved in the 1940s and 1950s by new materials made available by the growing plastics industry.
In a revolutionary development in 1999, Procter & Gamble (P&G) introduced its Swiffer sweeper, a broom/dust mop. Disposable cloths, based on electrostatic technology that grabs and holds dirt, fit onto the head of the mop. Because the Swiffer captures dirt instead of pushing it around like a broom, the innovative new cleaning tool offered consumers better cleaning as well as convenience. As a result of Swiffer and the many similar products that followed, the convenience cleaning tools category soon became an important force in the industry. The success of the Swiffer proved that households were willing to pay for the convenience of disposable cleaning aids. A number of other disposable products and cleaning tools soon entered the market, including wet-mop systems, dusters, and bathroom cleaning devices.
According to the 2002 Economic Census, the value of U.S. shipments of brooms, brushes, and mops in 2002 was $2.2 billion with shipments originating in Ohio and Illinois accounting for 26.5 percent of all shipments. Household floor brooms were listed at $86.8 million; dry mops and dusters (including refills except for dusting cloths), $94.8 million; wet mops, except sponges (including refills), $97.8 million; and sponge mops (including refills), $106.7 million.
Convenience cleaning tools are only a portion of this total industry. The Census Bureau's figures do not provide enough detail to separate out the portion of total shipments attributable to these modern cleaning devices. In fact, a portion of the convenience cleaning tools sector as defined for this essay includes material wipes that have been presaturated with cleaning chemicals. These are not covered at all under the Census Bureau industry defined as brooms, brushes, and mops manufacturing, but are included as a very small segment of the huge category of nonwoven fabrics.
Because a great deal of money has been spent in recent years to advertise and promote the newest additions to convenience cleaning tools, interest in the sector has been high and the trade press has collected information with which educated assessments about the size of the market may be made. In a market report published by Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., cleaning tools are broken into three categories. Together, these categories were reported to have had retail sales in the United States of $951 million in 2004, with household sponges and clothes accounting for 47.2 percent, scouring pads accounting for 26.4 percent, and the brooms, mops, and wax applicators category accounting for 26.5 percent.
The fastest growing of these three categories is household sponges and cloths, which saw retail sales increase 34 percent between 2003 and 2004. The report states that growth in this category was aided by such innovative convenience cleaning tools as Clorox's Toilet Wand and S.C. Johnson's Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush. Neither of the other categories saw growth in retail sales between 2003 and 2004; in fact, the brooms, mops, and wax applicators category experienced a 4.3 percent decline in retails sales.
Business Week reported in 2005 that Swiffer had a 75 percent share of the quick-clean market. Also in 2005, P&G reported that 40 million households worldwide used a Swiffer, 12 million American households had a Swiffer WetJet, 22 million American households had a Swiffer duster, and 2 billion wet and dry Swiffer refill cloths had been sold since their introduction. Similarly, HFN reported in 2005 that P&G estimated that it controlled more than 70 percent of an $800 million quick-clean category. The company predicted growth of about 7 percent per year.
Although different surveys measured things differently, several of these figures give an indication of the strong market for convenience cleaning tools. Information Resources Inc. reported that for the year ending in August 2004, Swiffer held first place in sales in food, drug, and discount outlets (excluding Walmart) in the category of Floor Cleaners/Waxes/Wax Removers, with $26.8 million in sales. Clorox Ready Mop was in second place at $11.1 million in sales. More traditional products came far behind (Mop & Glo Triple Action, $9.3 million; Armstrong, $8.4 million, Future, $7.1 million.)
Other trade reports that look at wipes are helpful in understanding the market for convenience cleaning tools. Once dominated by baby wipes, the number of products in this category has been greatly expanded to include a variety of specialized wipes for personal and housekeeping use. Euromonitor International reported in March 2004 that wipes were experiencing double-digit growth and had evolved into a global market of more than $5 billion. The market research organization said household cleaning wipes, a small niche product only a few years before, had reached almost $2 billion in sales globally in 2003. Swiffer accounted for more than 20 percent of the 2003 sales of household wipes. Swiffer was closely followed by S.C. Johnson's Pledge brand, which features similar Grab-It products for household cleaning. The same report noted that largely due to the success of such products as the Swiffer WetJet and Pledge Grab-It Wet, floor wipes had grown to account for more than a third of global impregnated wipes sales in 2003.
In 2005 Packaged Facts, the publishing division of MarketResearch.com, was reported by HFN to say that the market for household wipes, including cleaning wipes and broom/mop wipes, was expanding at a compound annual rate of 8.3 percent, fueled almost entirely by household cleaner wipes such as Swiffer refills. The report said that P&G had 32 percent of the household wipes market.
Meanwhile, INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, published a report in early 2006, which stated that in North America, double-digit growth had made the wipes market a $3.8 billion-a-year business, with $2.85 billion in the consumer sector and $0.87 billion in the industrial/institutional sectors. The consumer sector was reported to have grown 11.7 percent per year from 2000 to 2005, with annual growth in that sector projected to slow to 5.3 percent from 2005 to 2010. While baby wipes had historically been the largest consumer segment, household wipes had overtaken baby wipes with 45 percent of consumer wipes sales. This growth was attributed to the introduction of a number of new products, including floor-cleaning wipes, antibacterial wipes, polishing wipes, and others.
It can be seen from these figures that North American sales account for a very large portion of the household wipes segment and, it can be inferred, a similarly large piece of the convenience cleaning tools segment. This can be explained by the fact that the convenience products are marketed to households in developed countries where busier lifestyles, more single-person households, and growth in double-income families have created a pattern of more disposable income and greatly reduced levels of free time.
Euromonitor statistics show, however, that the Wipes segment is growing rapidly throughout the world. Western Europe's sales of dry electrostatic wipes were shown to have increased from $95.3 million in 1999 to $357 million in 2004, while sales of impregnated wet wipes jumped from $38.6 million in 1999 to $731.5 million in 2004. In the Asia-Pacific region during the same period, sales of dry wipes went from $160 million to $200 million and the sale of wet wipes grew by 44.2 percent, from $129 million to $186 million. Yet, local cultures can still have a major impact. When first introduced into Italy, Swiffer bombed so badly that P&G had to withdraw it. Italian women spend much more time cleaning than Americans do, according to the company's research, and they had little interest in products marketed as quick and convenient. There was far more appeal if products could be promoted as doing a better job and getting a home cleaner.
Convenience tools were conceived as a way to increase markets rather than to replace existing products, with families expected to buy a Swiffer as well as a traditional broom or mop. "We think that through innovation, we have injected growth in the category, rather than taking away from traditional stick goods," said Kelly Anchrum, spokeswoman for fabric and home care for P&G in a 2002 interview with HFN.
As the products gained in popularity, however, they did have a negative impact on stick goods, and products such as floor and furniture polishes took an even bigger hit. As noted earlier in the Citigroup report, the brooms, mops, and wax applicators category experienced a 4.3 percent decline in retails sales between 2003 and 2004. Also, Packaged Facts reported that sales of household cleaners dropped nearly 4 percent in 2004. To stay competitive, traditional mop and broom companies such as Butler, The Libman Co., and Casabella introduced disposable cleaning products that could be used independently or with the existing tools on the market such as Swiffer.
P&G, which initiated the convenience cleaning tools market in the United States in 1999 with the introduction of Swiffer, remains the dominant player. P&G is a giant in a wide range of consumer goods and is the leading maker of household products in the United States. It markets its nearly 300 brands in more than 160 countries. In addition to the groundbreaking Swiffer line, P&G's product list also includes the Mr. Clean line, which has developed its own convenience cleaning products.
P&G did not originally invent the concept for Swiffer, a new type of electrostatic dust mop. A company called KAO was already marketing a similar product in Japan. The idea to produce a similar product came out of P&G's Corporate New Ventures Unit, an internal think tank, and rather than licensing the KAO mop (which was later licensed by S.C. Johnson and marketed as Pledge Grab-It), P&G decided it could do better by developing its own version.
When introduced, Swiffer took the market by storm, and by early 2007, the Swiffer group comprised a wide range of products. These included:
- Swiffer Dry, the original dust mop. The company said the cloths were extra thick with unique, V-shaped ridges that picked up more dirt, dust, and hair than traditional methods.
- Swiffer WetJet, a mop system designed to quickly remove everyday dirt from the floor. In 2006 P&G introduced on improvement, a scrubbing strip on the disposable cloth. Information Resources Inc. reported that for the year ending in August 2004, Swiffer products held first place in the floor cleaners/wax removers category in food, drug and discount outlets (excluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc.) with $26.8 million in sales (about 33 percent of the $82.1 million total for the category). This compared to $11.1 million for Clorox Ready Mop and $3.1 million for Pledge Grab-It Go Mop. The WetJet was introduced in 2001 at a price of $49.99, which was badly undercut by the Clorox ReadyMop, introduced in 2002 at a price of $24.99. The Swiffer WetJet price was quickly cut to match.
- Swiffer CarpetFlick, a non-powered lightweight sweeper for quick carpet cleanups between vacuuming. The CarpetFlick traps small bits onto a disposable adhesive cartridge. The company began developing this device in late 2003, recognizing that although it had revolutionized the market for cleaning hard floors, 75 percent of the floor space in U.S. homes was carpeted.
- Swiffer Sweep + Vac, which was promoted as picking up fine debris with the disposable dry cloth and larger objects with the vacuum, which is powered by a rechargeable battery. This product faced one of P&G's few bumps in the road in 2004, shortly after its introduction, when 175,000 of the machines were recalled because of reports of a potential fire hazard. P&G relaunched the device in May 2005.
- Swiffer Dusters, said by P&G to have the trapping power of Swiffer in a "fluffy, go-anywhere form."
- The Swiffer Max Cleaning System, with a sweeper and cloths twice as large as regular Swiffer for quicker cleaning.
- The Swiffer WetJet Power Mop, which was made available for multipurpose floor cleaning, wood floor cleaning, and antibacterial floor cleaning.
P&G's products under the Mr. Clean brand include the Mr. Clean MagicReach, designed for easier bathroom cleaning, and the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser products, which clean everything from walls to floors. P&G even introduced a Magic Eraser for auto wheels and tires. As early as 1999, P&G introduced Mr. Clean Antibacterial Wipe-Ups, premoistened cloths that cleaned and disinfected in one step. When the Magic Reach was launched in September 2003, it was a major hit, as was the Magic Eraser after its introduction. The Citgroup Report noted that in the household sponges and cloths category, P&G's leadership share expanded in 2004 to 51 percent, mainly owing to a 6.3-share-point increase for the Mr. Clean brand because of the Magic Eraser.
S.C. Johnson & Son, headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin, one of the largest family-owned and managed companies in the United States, manufactures a long list of home, personal care, and insect-control products, including the Pledge brand. Within weeks of the Swiffer launch, S.C. Johnson countered with the Pledge Grab-It, a very similar dust-mop system. Pledge marketing stressed the ability of Grab-it products to cut down dust, dirt, and hair, particularly for those with pets or allergies. In 2001, the company launched its Pledge Grab-It Wipes to compete with the Swiffer Wet, which had come onto the market earlier in the year. As of early 2007, the line included such products as Pledge Grab-it Floor Sweeper and dry cloths (unscented or in orange citrus scent), Vinegar Wet Floor Wipes, and Orange Wet Floor Wipes for vinyl, ceramic tile, linoleum, sealed wood, and laminated floors.
S.C. Johnson, already a strong force in the bathroom cleaning market with its Scrubbing Bubbles brand, entered the convenience tools market with the Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush Toilet Cleaning System. In 2006, the company launched the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner. Although that product does not quite meet the cleaning tools definition for this article because it has no disposable cloths, it is certainly another innovative tool to save consumers time and bother on an unpopular cleaning chore.
The Clorox Company, which enjoyed fiscal year 2006 revenues of $4.6 billion, has corporate headquarters in Oakland, California. It manufactures products in 25 countries and markets them in more than 100 countries. Clorox introduced all-purpose cleaning wipes in 1999, selling $66 million worth in the United States during the product's first year. Other manufacturers followed suit, but Clorox remained the leader with $123 million in sales in 2004.
Clorox entered the convenience cleaning tools market in 2002 with the ReadyMop, rolled out to compete with the Swiffer WetJet. The ReadyMop was promoted as capable of doing serious cleaning without the bucket, the dirty water, or the mop odor. Consumer Reports said the Swiffer mop had thicker pads that soaked up more liquids than the Clorox ReadyMop, that its handle was more comfortable to hold, that its cleaning pads were easier to install, and that it would cost less to use over the course of a year. Clorox, however, was said to be a pound lighter than the Swiffer and easier to maneuver.
Clorox also began marketing its own bathroom-cleaning systems, the Clorox BathWand, and the Clorox ToiletWand. The company promoted the ergonomic design of these products, which it said significantly reduced back strain.
There are private label versions of many of these products, as well as efforts by other cleaning companies to introduce convenience products, but P&G, S.C. Johnson, and Clorox remain the major players in the field. The Citigroup report gives an indication of the competitive success of the big three. Breaking down market share of individual product lines in various categories and subcategories, the report said that in 2004 in the Household Sponges and Cloths sector, Procter and Gamble had a 51 percent market share (Swiffer 42.9 percent and Mr. Clean 8.1 percent), S.C. Johnson, 12 percent (Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush 6.6% and Pledge Grab-It 5.5%), and Clorox, 9.8 percent (Toilet Wand 4.8 percent and Ready Mop 3.3 percent). In the larger Cleaning Tools Market, Procter & Gamble had 6.9 percent with Swiffer. In Floor Care Cleaners, Swiffer had 33.7 percent, S.C. Johnson's Pledge Grab-It, 16.1 percent, and the Clorox ReadyMop, 12.6 percent.
MATERIALS & SUPPLY CHAIN LOGISTICS
The Annual Survey of Manufactures, published in all non census years by the Census Bureau, reported that in 2002 the broom, brush, and mop industry used $950 million worth of materials to produce $2.37 billion worth of products. The value of materials used increased to $1.01 billion in 2003, $1.07 billion in 2004, and $1.15 billion in 2005. The breakdown of these materials, found in the 2002 Economic Census includes plastics products, metal products (shapes and forms), yarns and textiles, wood brush handles and backs, paperboard, plastics resins, and dressed hair (including bristle and horsehair).
Convenience cleaning tools require many of these same products. Additionally, they require large quantities of nonwoven fabrics for the disposable sheets they feature. In fact, the rapid growth of convenience cleaning tools has had a major impact on the production of nonwoven wipes. INDA estimated in 2005 that wipes, with $3.8 billion in sales, were consuming 2.9 billion square meters of nonwoven materials, almost triple the volume consumed a decade earlier. Spunlace and airlaid pulp accounted for almost three-quarters of that volume.
At one time, baby wipes were generally made by the airlaid process, in which a material such as wood pulp is bonded with resin and/or thermal plastic resins dispersed within the pulp. In 1973 DuPont introduced a spunlace process, also known as hydroentanglement because high-speed jets of water strike a web, causing the fibers to knot about one another without the use of a chemical bonding material. In the early 2000s spunlace material became popular for wipes because of its textile-like drape and softness, good mechanical and aesthetic properties, and good absorbency and wetting.
As the wipes market entered a period of double-digit growth, a number of nonwoven fabrics manufacturers increased their spunlace production capability, particularly in Europe where major manufacturers such as Orlandi, Sandler, Suominen Nonwovens, and BBA Fiberweb invested in the technology. In 2006 suppliers such as Spuntech, Jacob Holm, and Ahlstrom began to bring more spunlace capacity on-line in North America as well. Most commonly, vicose or rayon and polyester have served as the raw materials for spunlace, but the addition of cotton to the mix has become popular, particularly since the rising cost of petroleum products has made cotton more price-competitive. The popularity of cotton is based on its purity, high absorbency rate, and durability. Nonwovens Industry, an on-line magazine, reported in October, 2006, however, that airlaid products were making a comeback, particularly for new applications and in products such as composite wipes that included both airlaid and sunlace materials. New processes and plants allowed airlaid manufacturers to offer significant cost savings.
Most convenience cleaning tools are produced by major corporations that manufacture a wide range of household goods. These manufacturers have fully developed distribution networks for moving their wide array of products from production plant to retail establishment. P&G, for example, sells its products in more than 160 countries, with regional distribution centers established to facilitate this worldwide commerce. Swiffer products are sold in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, P&G's international sales in fabric and home care totaled $15.3 million. A worldwide network of distribution centers supports international sales. As of 2007 the newest such center was the Algerian and Moroccan unit which was built in 2003.
Similarly S.C. Johnson, with more than $6.5 billion in annual sales, sells products in more than 110 countries, conducts operations in more than 70 countries, and has manufacturing facilities in more than 20 countries. S.C. Johnson also relies on a network of modern regional distribution centers, having shifted in 1996 from a system in which most U.S. customers were served from the company's manufacturing plant in Racine, Wisconsin. In fiscal 2006, Clorox's Household Group North America reported $2.1 billion in sales. International sales totaled $0.6 billion of this with sales around the world.
In the business climate of the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, cost-cutting and increasing efficiency were important. P&G decided in 2006 to halve its 450 storage and shipping points around the world, in an effort to cut distribution costs and make better use of alternative fuels. After P&G acquired Gillette in 2005, the two companies' distribution systems were combined to increase efficiency.
These companies also make use of the latest technology to control costs and assure that products are on the shelves when consumers look for them. One example can be seen in Lima, Ohio, where, in early 2007, P&G was building a 1-million-square-foot distribution center, due for completion in 2008. It was being equipped with an automated storage retrieval system employees call "The Rack," designed to handle 100,000 pallets at a time. In another example, the company worked with an in-house team and an outside partner, Data Ventures of Charlotte, North Carolina, to develop an item velocity monitor that greatly reduced the chance that P&G products would be out of stock on retail store shelves.
In another example of new distribution network innovations, Clorox installed Advance Order Picking software at each of its distribution centers to help plan and effectively load trucks. The software helps the company load trucks by drop location, with accurate axle weight information for each vehicle.
Convenience cleaning tools are generally purchased and used by retail consumers who want to handle household cleaning chores as quickly and efficiently as possible and are willing to pay more to do so. Institutional sales are also an important part of the industry's sales mix. In many industries, new products are tested and used in institutional settings ahead of their penetration into the household market. With convenience cleaning tools, the opposite is true. New convenience cleaning tools tend to penetrate the household market before they are adapted for use in institutional settings.
When the Swiffer hit the market in 1999, it and the convenience cleaning tools that followed were seen as an opportunity for incremental rather than competitive growth. It was believed that most consumers who bought a Swiffer would still want to own a traditional mop and broom. This has to some extent proven true, with sales of brooms, brushes, and mops climbing from $2.26 billion in 1999, the year Swiffer was introduced, to $2.37 billion in 2005, according to the Annual Survey of Manufactures, although these figures do not show whether an individual item within the category such as "household floor brooms" gained or lost sales.
The market for household cleaners and polishes cleadropped, however, as consumers used more impregnated wipes. According to Packaged Facts, the publishing division of MarketResearch.com, sales of household cleaners dropped nearly 4 percent in 2004, to $3.97 billion. Manufacturers who added convenience products such as impregnated wipes to their lines were still better off, however, because consumers were spending more on their total cleaning supplies purchases.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
Companies that invested in research and development were the ones to benefit from the increasing market for convenience cleaning tools. P&G is particularly known for its heavy research spending. The company spent $1.94 billion on research and development in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005. In 2005, a company spokesperson said the company had gained market share 23 points in the last three years due to its innovations. In 2006 A.G. Lafley, P&G CEO, said at an analyst's meeting that innovation "is P&G's lifeblood." P&G not only develops new products and brands. The company maintains them through constant research with consumers, which led to improvements and re-releases of popular Swiffer products. These included a scrub strip that was added to WetJet disposable cloths as well as a second generation WetJet with an enhanced spraying mechanism and a fresh color—purple.
The other leading companies also emphasize research. The priority Clorox gives to innovative products can be read on the company's Web site, which has a special section for Innovations. In early 2007 the company listed seven new products, including the BathWand and the ToiletWand. Research on ergonomic design was cited in the section on the BathWand, while the ToiletWand blurb spoke of the revolutionary design, which was said to greatly outclean traditional toilet brushes.
Clorox also relied on research and development teams to take its traditional focus on health and wellness to a new level. Research teams worked with scientists to study germs and disinfection in various settings and then featured the results in promotion and advertising to convince parents the products were needed to protect families. One study, for example, looked at the use of Clorox products in day care centers, concluding that disinfecting helped stop the spread of germs.
In the convenience cleaning tools market, one of the strongest trends is the continued introduction of product improvements and products that address new areas of cleaning as manufacturers try to expand their sales. Market analysts have noted the possibility of expanding into auto cleaning and pet cleanups. In fact, P&G has already entered the auto market with the 2004 introduction of Mr. Clean AutoDry, a car cleaning system that attaches to a hose. Each package comes complete with a quick hose connect system, AutoDry soap, an AutoDry filter, and a disposable wash mitt. Continued innovation is particularly important to the major manufacturers to combat the increasingly sophisticated private label products.
Convenience will continue to be the major emphasis of these products. Consumers want disposable, compact, time-saving, and efficient products, and manufacturers are eager to meet this need. The Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner is a good example of a product designed to tackle an old chore with little work on the part of the home-owner. Manufacturers also continue to stress ergonomics and simplicity and functionality in design. As noted, Clorox spends considerable promotional effort to convince homeowners that they will have fewer back problems using the BathWand.
The demand for kitchen and bathroom products is being fueled by the heavy investment homeowners are making in their homes, with many spending considerable sums to renovate kitchens and bathrooms. These homeowners are willing to spend money on products that help them to maintain these investments. Some analysts predict laundry and utility rooms will also be getting more attention, and manufacturers are introducing new products that simplify laundry and stain-removal.
Another trend is fragrance-driven innovation, seen in such products as S.C. Johnson's Pledge Vinegar Wet Floor Wipes, and Orange Wet Floor Wipes.
One concern for the industry, however, is the possibility of an environmental backlash by recycling-conscious consumers who are against disposable products. In response, manufacturers are introducing new wipes that are flushable and biodegradable. In another example, Oxi products—cleaners that use active oxygen—were first introduced as laundry detergents and stain removers. Oxi technology has now made its way into household cleaners. It is promoted both as a safe and effective alternative to chlorine bleach. Some smaller companies also emphasize products from botanically pure plant extracts. While environmental friendliness may not be the main selling point to a consumer, buyers often will choose the green product if price and effectiveness are comparable.
TARGET MARKETS & SEGMENTATION
As has been seen, the most basic target market for convenience cleaning tools is the large number of two-income or single-parent families with sufficient income to be willing to pay for convenience. The appeal of convenience is so strong that P&G was able to overcome commoditization and pricing pressures when it introduced Swiffer and then began expanding the line, solving problems consumers never knew they had. Those consumers could have used traditional mops and brooms, but the convenience of Swiffer, highlighted and emphasized in very expensive advertising campaigns, created a huge demand for the product.
The move into convenience products and the continuing introduction of new convenience devices has been based on various studies that identify potential customers. In 2002, for example, a study by the Soap and Detergent Association found that 25 percent of the Americans surveyed said that home cleanliness was a top priority for the coming year. In the same survey, however, 48 percent said they did not keep clean homes because they could not find the time to do so.
The introduction of convenience cleaning tools appealed to these busy consumers and transformed the way they think about household care. Such products as Swiffer dusters and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser represented completely new markets. S.C. Johnson's new shower cleaner actually introduces a new subsegment—preventative cleaners. Manufactures also follow the classic razor-and-blade model in marketing convenience products, making more money on refills than on handles. A purchaser of a traditional dust mop might have no further dealings with the manufacturer for months or years, but a new Swiffer owner can be relied on to regularly buy Swiffer refills.
Manufacturers have not relied solely on convenience, however, when targeting consumers. They advertise that their products will result in cleaner, safer homes. A study reported at the 2000 American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology conference said Swiffer was more efficient in removing cat and dog allergens than other cleaning methods. The study, by the Institute of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, said Swiffer picked up more than 93 percent of cat and dog allergens from floors, in comparison to 16 percent by a standard broom and 13 percent by a dust mop.
Meanwhile, the Clorox public relations and research and development departments work together to target parents. As seen earlier, Clorox conducted studies of germs and disinfectants and used them to convince parents that Clorox could help protect their families. The company's health and wellness program includes television, print, and radio ads, a Web site for new mothers, and even Clorox educational kits for day care centers and elementary schools. Clorox, which had donated disaster relief money and products to the American Red Cross for some time, launched a new marketing partnership with the agency in July 2006 under the theme Dedicated to a Healthier World. Clorox is collaborating with the Red Cross on marketing, promotional events, and joint sponsorship of a NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) race car.
Promotional efforts are central to the companies' efforts to convince consumers they need the new products. When P&G began shipping Swiffer WetJet in 2000, the launch was accompanied by heavy television and print ads and $1-off coupons. P&G estimated it was reaching 90 percent of its target households. P&G also agreed to be a presenting sponsor of 11 regional new-home shows, which in return featured the WetJet.
When the improved Swiffer WetJet came to market, P&G teamed with Buena Vista Home Entertainment on a sweepstakes tied to a special DVD edition of Disney's Cinderella. Similarly, the introduction of Swiffer dusters was accompanied by a tie-in to a DVD release of the Jennifer Lopez film Maid in Manhattan. The dusters carried coupons good for $2 off of the DVD, while the video came with coupons good for $1 off of the dusters. In fact, the rollout of the duster also included a partnership with Tupperware Corp. to demonstrate Swiffer at the company's in-home parties, a "Swiffermobile" with testing equipment that could determine the age of dust, and "tell-a-friend" coupons in each box.
Other companies fought back. S.C. Johnson, for example, backed its 2002 introduction of the Pledge Grab-It mop with $8 million in marketing support.
RELATED ASSOCIATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS
American Brush Manufacturers Association (ABMA), http://www.abma.org
INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, http://www.inda.org
International Housewares Association for Retail and Wholesale Manufacturers and Buyers, http://www.housewares.org
Soap and Detergent Association, http://www.cleaning101.com
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