Mintel: Households Embracing Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Claims that Americans are suffering from a sense of environmental malaise may be valid. However, increased allergies and safety concerns over conventional cleaners is leading Mintel to project that green household cleaners will, well, clean up over the next half decade.

A $17.7 million business in 2003, the Chicago-based market research company says the green cleaning category quadrupled sales to $64.5 million by 2008. By 2013, Mintel anticipates eco-friendly cleaners will do an astounding $623 million in business and account for 30 percent of the household cleaners market by then (compared with 3 percent last year).

Now it would be one thing if America were on some wild spree to spruce up, but green cleaning is showing this growth at a time when the conventional cleaning market is stagnant. The broader category grew only 7 percent–which is actually a decline of 7 percent when you factor in inflation–from 2002-07.

The surge in sales of the supplies reflects both macro and micro trends. Four in 10 people surveyed for the Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products–US–January 2009 Market Size and Forecast report said they were more concerned with the environment now than they were one year ago. Worries about the health and safety effects of toxic chemicals in traditional household cleaning products on one’s family have swayed consumers to a category that was once led by independent brands such as Simple Green, Seventh Generation and Method. Seven in 10 Mintel respondents said they worried about chemicals in household cleaners and four in 10 cited allergies as a reason for buying eco-friendly cleaning products. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergy, according to the report.  

In terms of demographics, the consumers who are most likely to buy green cleaners are young (ages 18-35) and multi-ethnic (Hispanic and Asian consumer index is especially high).

In the report, Mintel identified four major product segments within green cleaning: household cleaners, cleaner cloths, floor cleaners/wax removers, and rug/upholstery/fabric treatments. The household cleaners segment is the most dominant, with 87 percent of market share and a 125 percent growth from 2007-08.

The category’s growth is due to the rollout of less-costly eco-friendly offerings from large industry players, most notably, Clorox’s Green Works brand, which launched with six products in January 2008. In just 10 months, Green Works had established a 40% market share. Also last year, SC Johnson acquired Caldrea and helped the Mrs. Meyer’s brand increase sales by two-thirds.

The launch of Green Works has transformed the retail landscape, too. Prior to Clorox’ launch, mass merchants (not including Wal-Mart, which Mintel doesn’t track) and natural product supermarkets were the largest channels for green cleaners, and each accounted for roughly 35% of sales. Green Works brought green cleaning products into mainstream supermarkets, which have seen green sales increase more than 170% from 2007-08 and marketshare rise 16 percentage points. Drugstores are still a small retail channel, but they are one of the fastest growing thanks to the line. As green cleaners become more mainstream, Mintel projects that Wal-Mart is likely to put more pricing pressure on its green cleaning suppliers and possibly come out with a green brand of its own.

Also growing in popularity? The use of homemade cleaning potions. Almost one in three Mintel respondents said they use a homemade household cleaner at least sometimes.

(See chart on next page)

Recommended articles