Keeping it clean: How Britain is a nation divided on housework

Spring has sprung and Britain should be alive to the sounds of sweeping, polishing, washing and wiping.

But actually most of us seems pretty happy to sit back and allow the dust to dance in the sunshine.

According to a survey by Appliances Online, three-quarters of us don’t enjoy cleaning our homes and two-thirds won’t be spring cleaning this year.

Given that we can barely find time in our frantic lives to cleacleaningn our teeth let alone our houses, that statistic isn’t very shocking. But when you think how house-proud so many of us have become, with spending on interiors still holding strong, you might think that sprucing our homes would naturally follow.

That’s just one of the many contradictions facing those who make cleaning products. Here’s a few other dilemmas that are making things less than crystal clear.

We want multi-purpose cleaners
And we want one-job products too

Sales have remained relatively strong with cleaning products that perform a range of clever functions, which is to-be-expected given that every second of our busy lives count.

But at the same time, consumers love those clever specialist products that allow them to unblock a drain, clear mould, or primp a patio, taking the time to do it themselves instead of paying someone else to do it for them. That’s two very distinct trends that, while not mutually exclusive, do point in two confusing directions.

We care about the planet
And we want easy, throwaway products too

Around a quarter of global consumers* want the ingredients in their cleaning products to be natural, and a similar number want eco-friendly packaging. We want our homes to be free of toxins and our planet not to be piled high with waste.

How is it then that the biggest growth area in recent years has been in disposable cleaning wipes, which do the job quickly and efficiently, but also aren’t exactly the eco-warriors of the cleaning world?

Balancing this hypocritical hiccup of human nature is challenging for brands bidding to sweep away the competition. (Source: 2016 report in The Grocer)

Women still do the lion’s share of cleaning
But ignore men at your peril

In Europe, 55% of shopping for cleaning products is done by women, 17% by men, and the rest share it between them, according to a report from Nielsen*. That means that of course most products need to appeal to the female of the species, who tend to want products that perform brilliantly in the quickest time, with a smell that’s inoffensive too. But with the number of men trawling the household aisle on the up, brands can’t lose sight of what’s likely to make men most likely to part with their money, whether that’s blinding them with science or giving their products a more masculine fragrance.

Small is beautiful
But chunky is cheaper

With the number of one-person households soaring, society needs smaller products that suit that demographic (and don’t take up too much space in their shrinking homes). But families, who have the biggest cleaning needs, also want value for money, and that often means scaling up for cut-price polishing and scrubbing. One size most certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to keeping things clean.

The world of household cleaning is anything but clear. And what that means is that brands have to work harder than ever to clean up with shoppers. Innovation in purpose, packaging and positioning is vital. And having a winning Product of the Year logo should seal the deal. Let’s see which cleaning products enter Product of the Year this summer.

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