Industrial and Institutional Wipes Growth Outpaces Market

By Karen McIntyre, Editor | March 27, 2017

Kline study shows that all categories are posting growth.

According to Kline Research, sales of industrial and institutional cleaning wipes increased by more than 5% at the end-use level with all product categories posting growth in 2014. The superiority of wipes over other cleaning products along with the recently modified EPA Wiper rule helped boost sales in this flourishing market.

Spurred by strong demand for disinfectant and sanitizer wipes in healthcare, hard surface products hold the lion’s share of the market, outpacing the overall market growth and increasing 5.6% in 2014.

All suppliers recorded growth in 2014 mainly because the wipes market was still in a building phase. The five leading suppliers of industrial and institutional cleaning wipes account for 84% of the total market, and sales disparities occur even among the top players where sales numbers double from one supplier to another.

The market for institutional and industrial wipes will experience acceleration as the manufacturing segment continues to rise and is forecast to grow at a healthy compound annual rate (CAGR) of over 4% through 2019.

As the market develops, it is also expected that many end use segments will demand wipes that are certified by central bodies for being free of harmful ingredients and environmentally friendly. Green labeling is also likely to gain popularity and may become a differentiator in the category.

What’s Diving Growth
The industrial and institutional cleaning wipes market presents opportunities for companies to tap into this growing segment. All major end-use segments are expected to increase consumption of wipes, reflecting the need for superior cleaning products and to maintain clean and healthy facilities. The ease of use and convenience that wipes offer end users will contribute to future growth across all end-use segments, largely for general-purpose wipes. End-use segments, such as healthcare facilities, food service, and schools and universities, will continue to emphasize the importance of clean surfaces and hands in order to minimize germs and illness at their facilities. Wipes are expected to play a key role in this goal.

Suppliers may target a specific product class or have broader market capabilities. Clorox is the market leader in all the end-use segments, and the company is expected to remain the leader through expansion of its end users and by offering innovative new wipes. Companies like Reckitt Benckiser Professional and Kimberly-Clark Professional will seek to take some market share from Clorox by offering products specific to various end users, although small and marginal players hope to gain significant share of the wipes market. Acquisitions and mergers could influence the market dynamics and category sales. Some of the leading suppliers, notably weak in key product groups, may look at avenues to acquire companies with strong positions in those areas.

Warehouse clubs are significant channel intermediaries, undercutting distributors’ pricing on many products, but still selling primarily to smaller customers. The channel will not transform channel dynamics, but might alter the platforms of delivery, credit, and service. Industrial facilities, small businesses, retail outlets, and recreational facilities tend to buy wipes more often from warehouse clubs than any other distribution channel. Some of these facilities would likely replace industrial cleaning wipes for consumer brand wipes, which would not only serve their immediate cleaning needs but also cost less.

Other than products being effective and efficient, safety is a preoccupying concern to end users for their own staff, as well as for their guests and visitors. Suppliers can help customers to address the onerous cost of liability insurance.

Environmental awareness remains a preoccupying theme in the industry, along with the marketing of environmental lines. Many end users want green products, but at a cost-neutral price. The sustainability and feasibility of the disposal of wastes are also of concern.

Wipes Outpace Other Cleaner Sales
All product categories and companies registered growth on the market for industrial and institutional cleaning wipes that increased by over 5% in 2014. Several companies, such as market leader Clorox Professional Products or various smaller brands like Metrex Research or Spartan Chemical, are growing faster than the overall market growth, reveals the Kline Industrial and Institutional Wipes USA: Market Analysis and Opportunities report. This across the board uptake is due fact that end users view wipes as a convenient and effective way to clean their facilities.

Another development helping to expand sales of wipes is the recently modified EPA Wiper Rule. Now that reusable, laundered cloths and solvent-contaminated disposable wipes are subject to the same regulations, it is expected to lead to increased future sales for wipes in various industrial and commercial end-use segments.

In order to understand the market from the end user’s perspective, Kline conducted structured surveys with a wide range of end users. The surveys find that while these products are important to users, loyalty to specific wipe brands is low as less than one-third of the survey respondents note that the brand name of wipes is important as a purchase factor. More than half of the respondents say that they would simply choose an alternate brand of wipes if the distributor stopped carrying their brand.

Spurred by high usage in healthcare, the leading segment for disinfectant and sanitizer wipes application, followed by schools and universities, these wipes led the group of hard-surface products with nearly 80% of overall sales and grow by 5.6% in 2014. Fitness facilities experienced the highest growth in usage of such products. Another category, general-purpose wipes, also registered a significant increase driven by usage within the industrial environment as they are well suited for cleaning grease and oil.

Schools and universities posted the highest growth in sales of hand sanitizer wipes, underlining the importance of wipes for minimizing the risk of infection among children and young adults. Schools are particularly heavy users of wipes with more than half of them being used in primary schools (grades K-12).

“End users of cleaning wipes utilize these products for multiple reasons but disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces are key functions. Concern with maintaining clean facilities and keeping germs and bacteria away is high across all segments. Convenience, saving time and maintaining worker safety are other important purchase factors when buying wipes,” says Laura Mahecha, I&I Industry manager at Kline on survey findings. “However, end-users also voice some concerns about the cost of wipes compared to traditional cleaning products.”

Based on over 500 end user surveys and more than 40 in-depth industry interviews with suppliers and distributors, Industrial and Institutional Wipes USA: Market Analysis and Opportunities study will provide comprehensive industry insights, data and analysis of the market for disposable industrial and institutional cleaning wipes. More information: www.klinegroup.com; laura.mahecha@klinegroup.com