Closeup top view of unrecognizable home cleaning products with blue bucket and a mop on the side. All products placed on white tiled bathroom floor.

Almost all households buy into the cleaning and laundry categories. Independent retailers can win with a well merchandised range.

AC Nielsen values the clothes care market at £119.3m in convenience and growing by 6.1%, outpacing the total market.
Powder detergent is the biggest section of the convenience market but ‘wet’ formats – i.e. liquids, gel and capsules – are driving the growth in ‘main wash’, giving convenience retailers opportunities.
On average, people buy laundry products 14 times a year. 94% of households buy detergent and stain removers products, while 71% buy fabric conditioner.
In general, most convenience stores stock products for main wash. But they may risk losing out on potential sales of other formats, such as liquids and capsules, as well as products for other elements of laundry, such as iron enhancers, stain removers and fabric softeners if they are not fully aware of their shoppers’ requirements, suggests Unilever’s Partners for Growth programme.
Convenience retailers would benefit from broadening their range to suit a greater spectrum of needs, Partners for Growth recommends. Powders are still the largest sector of the market, accounting for 35.3% of value sales of the £82m fabric cleaning market in convenience. However, shoppers have been quick to adopt liquids, gels and capsules which, combined, now have a 53% value share of that market (Nielsen).
As washing machine technology advances, and the water required for a wash decreases, concentrated liquid formats are becoming the most effective format. The quick wash cycle or washing at 30⁰ or 40⁰ temperatures are becoming increasingly popular as consumers try to save energy and money and this is an opportunity that retailers can capitalise on.
“Concentrated liquids are becoming increasingly important, yet shoppers often fail to find these products in their local convenience store,” says Matthew Trembath, Channel Category Manager at Unilever “These formats satisfy a number of key customer requirements – environmental concerns, improved fragrance, reduced packaging – with a pack size which is highly suited to convenience.”
Trembath encourages convenience retailers to find ways to reassure their customers that they are not paying above the odds: “Consumers are looking for the best deal and, while they accept that they often pay a premium for the convenience of shopping locally, they are less inclined to do this on large items such as laundry. Look out for price-marked packs which offer convenience retailers an opportunity to reassure their customers that they are still getting great value as well as the convenience.”
Don’t forget to ensure you can provide for shoppers who believe they have sensitive skin, with non-bio liquid formats as well as ‘pure’ fabric conditioners, as these shoppers won’t switch to ‘bio’ or ‘fragrance’ products and you will lose the sale if there is nothing suitable for them to buy, Partners for Growth suggests.
A third of the population buy laundry in a convenience store six times a year, according to Partners for Growth.
There are three main groups of customers – retired, stay at home mothers and professionals. The range needs to be appropriate for a store’s core shopper groups and demographics.
Laundry is part of a regular top-up habitual purchase and not a distress purchase and because of this, if a chosen product is not available the customer will delay purchase or go elsewhere.
49% of customers walk to the store so concentrated formats are attractive as lighter to carry and small pack sizes are the most easily portable.
Where space for laundry products is limited, stocking products from the following sub sectors will most shoppers’ requirements.
Partners for Growth recommends retailers separate detergents by formats – to make it easier for shoppers to find what they are looking for, try to block products of a similar format together e.g. powders, liquid and capsules.
Keep your shelves fully stocked, says Partners for Growth. Research suggests that retailers could be losing £40m a year in laundry sales due to poor availability and out of stocks. While some shoppers may switch brands if they can’t find what they’re looking for ultimately, they will go elsewhere.
Retailers can encourage additional sales. Laundry shoppers most often are shopping for washing detergents. To prompt sales of fabric conditioners or ironing aid products, it is recommended that these are merchandised close to detergents.
Make sure you’re stocking the best selling formats, Partners for Growth suggests. Capsules are the top selling format followed closely by Liquids whilst Powders are in decline. Make sure you allocate the most shelf space to the best selling formats.
Stores should stock appropriate pack sizes. The main shopper mission for your store will determine which pack size is most relevant. For stores with a high level of ‘top up’ shopping, medium / large packs will be required. Stores with limited shelf space and shoppers on a ‘need it now’ mission, should stock small or medium packs.
Retailers of course are advised to stock the best-selling lines and can use Partners for Growth’s best seller list to check they offer a variety of sizes and formats to suit the needs of their shoppers.
Washing-up gloves
“Two of the biggest trends we are seeing are towards sustainable and environmentally friendly products, with microfibre, proving a popular choice for consumers as they trade up from more traditional cloths,” comments Joanne Ward, Product Manager for Marigold.
The microfibre segment has a 23% share of the overall cloths market and is showing growth of +7% in the last 12 weeks (IRI).
Responding to these key consumer needs, Marigold has worked on creating machine washable cloths which can be used time-and-time again, as well as maximising the cleaning potential of microfibre to ensure a deep down clean.
The brand has created the next generation of microfibre cloth in the form of Marigold Squeaky Clean, which is up +142% in value in the last 12 weeks (IRI) and carries the Good Housekeeping Institute Approved logo.
The Marigold Let it Shine Microfibre Cloths (pack of four) are showing strong growth of +147% (IRI).
“We believe this is because people are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and would prefer to use durable and reusable products that not only give an exceptional, deep down clean but do so without the requirement for harsh chemicals,” Ward adds.