Is Sustainability Disrupting the Home Hygiene Market?
In recent years, sustainability and the shifting of ideals toward an environmentally friendly society have become more widely prevalent within the public sphere. It is a topic that people attribute great importance to; reflected in its social media presence and generating over 3 million social media engagements in the month of July 2019 alone.
Throughout the 7-month period Between January and July 2019, the topic of sustainability generated over 1.5 million mentions across social media platforms per month in English speaking countries. With the lowest figure still reaching 1.7 million in January. A significant proportion of the discussion voiced support for the green movement and all the changes occurring globally to protect the environment. However, amongst these posts was an underlying sentiment of distrust toward corporations and governments, citing the lack of effort in sustainability.
With concerns surrounding the impact of cleaning products on the environment, and more eco-friendly alternatives garnering popularity, consumers have a greater choice of products which could greatly affect what they purchase. As sustainability ramps up in support and the sense of urgency increases, it is becoming increasingly important for home hygiene brands to also consider the public preference.
Consumers within the social media sphere are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact their purchases have, with concerns arising around non-biodegradable and toxic chemicals, plastic packaging, and microplastics in the home hygiene sector. The continued interest in sustainability is slowly contributing to an increased use of alternatives to standard home cleaning products and already has an influence on the market.
The above was made in response to a thread that outlined how long various plastics take to decompose and asked how others reduce their plastic waste. The parent tweet generated high numbers of engagements with 241 replies, 9K retweets, and 7.2K likes, demonstrating consumer willingness to support and gravitate toward more sustainable variants of products.
According to social media data, a significant part of the discussion behind cleaning products surrounds the toxic chemicals within them, generating 29,213 posts. Conversation about toxic chemicals in these products voiced concerns about their effect on insect populations – especially bees – and the toxic runoff that is being recycled into our water systems, with toxic chemicals being found in up to 70% of produce.
Furthermore, an article published by Business Insider generated 80,706 engagements after it addressed the presence of plastics and microplastics in the digestive tracts of deep ocean creatures. It highlighted the widespread problem of microplastic pollution, but the large engagement numbers also emphasised the public interest in the topic. These issues and worries inevitably affect home hygiene products due to the use of microplastics and plastic packaging for variousproducts such as washing powder, turning consumers to alternatives and home solutions.
Alternatives to conventional brands
Social media users have shown interest in natural, organic and eco-friendly home hygiene products as alternatives to conventional household names. A Facebook video by Nifty showcasing DIY laundry detergent, toilet cleaning and dishwasher pods, generated over 8.5k engagements across multiple Facebook pages, showing that the market for alternatives is becoming increasingly popular.
These users show preference to reduce their exposure to chemicals in their households because of either being conscious about the possible environmental impact of such products or due to health concerns. In the market for laundry detergents, natural and organic alternatives were commonly discussed among users, especially mothers with babies, who sought out natural detergents in order to minimise their babies’ exposure to chemicals. Users with sensitive skin also showed tendency to use natural or organic detergents.
Tru Earth laundry detergent sheets have been a prominent talking point on social media with the website generating 69.3K social media engagements. The company markets itself as a “clean, green, and simple” product with these characteristics highlighted as the main selling points by over 700 reviews, showing that consumers are concerned about the carbon footprint products generate and the product’s simplicity to use.
Ecoegg has also witnessed increased popularity among social media users with an article in The Sun generating almost 11.1K engagements on social media. Though eco-friendliness is one of the main traits it is marketed with, online reviews mostly concentrated on its cost-effectiveness with some users highlighting the simplicity of the product as another main selling point. Some social media users also stated that they use the product as an alternative because of an allergy to “normal washing powder”.
Smol is also a young brand which is increasing in popularity. Online reviewers praised Smol products for their environmental friendliness and low price, while also highlighting the ordering process as a main advantage of using the product. Users mentioned the ability to amend their orders anytime was a great advantage, giving them flexibility to adjust their orders depending on their needs. The compact packaging was also a prominent talking point as it allows the product to be delivered through the mailbox, thus eliminating the need to sign for it by the customer and streamlining the delivery process.
The role of influencers
Social media influencers who focus on a clean household, also known as ‘cleanfluencers’, have also shown to be steadily rising in popularity. A number of profiles have also expressed preference for zero-waste living or removal of harsh chemicals from their everyday cleaning lifestyles. For example, @zerowastehome, an advocate for the zero-waste lifestyle movement, has accumulated 236K followers, stating that she no longer uses fragrances or fresheners (e.g. Febreze) due to chemicals. Users were highly receptive to this message, with profiles asking her about the disadvantage of using products with fragrances.
The rise in environmental awareness in recent years shifted consumer preferences in the home hygiene industry from conventional household brands to new alternative products with lower carbon footprint and less chemicals. Therefore, companies in the home hygiene sector need to understand these changes in order to be able to adapt to shifting consumer preferences and stay competitive in the market in the long-term.
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