Euromonitor’s Angéline Le Ménach, analyst for Home Industries, says there is a clear correlation between home care wipes sales and the economy.
“When we’re looking at all-purpose cleaning wipes, we see that wipes are highly connected to how the economy is doing,” she says. “We are going to see sales increasing when the economy gets better. There is this thing about consumers that maybe when their disposable income is decreasing, using something only once and throwing it away seems wasteful. In contrast, when the economy is getting better, we see sales increasing, so we think it’s quite connected. We notice the higher the disposable income is, the more likely consumers are to buy wipes.”
The move away from wipes during a slower economic period could be an indication that consumers are switching back to traditional cleaning products such as a spray bottle and cloth, which consumers see as being more cost-effective.
According to Euromonitor, all-purpose impregnated wipes are the most important category within household wipes, growing 6% in 2015 compared to the year prior, beating out wipes for specific tasks such as toilet care wipes. “Regarding all-purpose wipes, we think it’s about convenience; not buying wipes for a specific part of the home, whether it’s the bathroom or the kitchen,” Le Ménach says. “Anti-bacterial wipes are doing very well because they can be used anywhere in the home.”
Wipes industry consultant Susan Stansbury also sees consumers’ attraction to these types of wipes. “Antimicrobial effective household wipes still compel consumers’ attention, often driven by news headlines about various ‘outbreaks,’” she says.
Other trends Stansbury is seeing in the category center around more claims for effectiveness and ever-evolving packaging. “Packaging changes include improved ease-of-opening, aesthetic and product-protective features that assure freshness and shelf life,” she says.
Nice-Pak International of Flint, U.K., a subsidiary of Nice-Pak, Orangeburg, NY, and a leading wet wipe manufacturer in Europe, produces an array of household wipes including multi-surface wipes (both antibacterial and non-antibacterial), kitchen and bathroom wipes (including flushable toilet cleaning wipes), and task-specific wipes for floors, glass, wood/laminate and stainless steel surfaces.
“Our products come in a range of textures and thicknesses to give effective cleaning for a wide range of surfaces, while a variety of fragrances and limited edition scents reinforce the impression of a job well done,” says Ian Anderson, marketing director, Nice-Pak International. “We invest in research and development to bring the latest innovations to the market, whether that be formulation, fragrance, packaging and environmentally friendly options.”
In fact, some of the trends Anderson and the company are seeing this year is corresponding fragrance and color-coding—for example, pink grapefruit scented wipes in pink packaging or exotic flowers in purple packaging, he says.
Nice-Pak is also getting specific requests in regards to substrates. “Our customers are looking for innovative fabrics that will be tough enough to clean a variety of surfaces. Different fabrics are suitable for various cleaning tasks, and we are able to offer a diverse range such as colored/embossed dual sided, lint free substrates,” Anderson explains.
The wipes converter is currently seeing good growth for household wipes on its home turf in the U.K., which Anderson says is the leading country for wet wipes, while the markets in France and Germany are stable. Meanwhile, Italy is seeing growth in the category for home care and floor cleaning wipes, but big declines in furniture cleaning wipes.
To keep up with its customers’ growth and capacity requirements, Anderson says Nice-Pak has “consistently maintained an ambitious program of investment in new plants, machinery and technology,” and as such, the company announced last year that it would establish a new factory in Wigan, U.K.
This £40 million ($58 million) project is nearing completion, and the 400,000 square foot plant will be up and running this quarter. “We already have a factory in Wigan, which manufactures household and personal care wipes. We wanted to maintain our expertise across these product areas and combine it with the most advanced wet wipe technology possible, making Nice-Pak the ideal partner for growth,” Anderson says.
The flagship factory will join Nice-Pak’s other facilities in Flint, North Wales and Osterweddingen, Germany.
A Few New Wipes
The lack of significant growth in the household wipes market seems to have had an affect on wipes marketers, as recent product introductions appear limited. Despite this, new wipes offer novel cleaning solutions for today’s busy consumer.
In March, iRobot Corp. introduced a robotic home cleaning tool that tackles dirt and dust on tile, stone and hardwood floors. Starting at $199, the Braava jet mopping robot combines a compact design, a vibrating cleaning head, precision jet spray and Braava jet Cleaning Pads to lift dirt and stains, even in hard-to-reach places, like under kitchen cabinets and around toilets.
The wet mopping and damp sweeping pads, which contain a water-activated cleaning agent, leave a fresh, clean scent. The easy-to-use Braava jet allows users to pop on the desired Braava jet Cleaning Pad, press the ‘clean’ button, and the robot will automatically determine its cleaning action based on the pad chosen. Pads available are a wet mopping pad, damp sweeping pad, and dry sweeping pad.
When the Braava jet is finished cleaning, users place the robot over a waste basket and hit the ‘eject’ button to drop the pad into the trash—no touching a dirty pad required.
Braava jet Cleaning Pads retail for $7.99 for a box of 10 cleaning pads and can be purchased on www.irobot.com or wherever the Braava jet is sold.
Meanwhile, wipes newcomer WipeMeWorld, which recently was honored with an IDEA16 Achievement Award win for its flushable moist toilet tissue on a roll, is slated to introduce moist household wipes on a roll, a product that will fit onto a paper towel holder. Hong Kong-based entrepreneur Ronen Cojocaru thought of the concept of moist toilet paper on a roll in 2012 when he began using traditional wet wipes on his two children, and later on himself. “I found that wet wipes provide just what I needed in order to increase my hygiene,” he says.
This innovation is what led Cojocaru to begin working on a paper towel-sized wipe for cleaning the kitchen and household, as well as Sanitize Flushable Wet Wipes for hospital rooms, surgery rooms, dental offices and more, offering an alternative to traditional sanitization solutions for medical facilities.
WipeMeWorld products are packaged in air tight, water resistant packages that can be opened and resealed to remove wipes when needed. All WipeMeWorld products are expected to launch this year.
Finally, music accessories company Kyser recently launched a wipe that takes care of string instruments. The disposable Kyser Cleaning Wipes for guitars, bass guitars and mandolins are available in three varieties: String Cleaning Wipes, keeping strings clean and fresh sounding; Polish Wipes for cleaning oil and grime on wood; and Lem-Oil Wipes for cleaning and conditioning fret boards.
The 4”x6” wipes come in a canister containing 35 wipes that keep instruments looking and sounding great.
Kyser Cleaning Wipes are nominated for INDA’s World of Wipes Innovation Award this year.
Marketing Focus for Top Brands
While Procter and Gamble, the top company globally in home care wipes and floor cleaning systems, hasn’t introduced a new product recently, it has continued to work its marketing prowess by partnering with celebrities for its Swiffer brand.
During the 2015 holiday season, Swiffer partnered with Bark & Co., makers of a monthly box of goodies for dogs, and actor Scott Foley to show families the “joy, love and easy clean-up of a child’s first pet.”
According to a survey by Swiffer, 93% of American parents feel that having a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences a child can have, yet, 75% of parents who do not already have a pet agree that concerns over pet-related messes could prevent them from getting one. Therefore, Swiffer embarked on this partnership to provide dog shelters nationwide with 10,000 Welcome Home Kits to show how easy it is to get a thorough clean in minutes so more families and children can experience the love of a first pet. The Welcome Home Kit included a free Swiffer Sweeper Starter Kit coupon and a Swiffer Duster, as well as Bark & Co. toys and treats. Valued at $50, the kit also included a Welcome Home Guide featuring information from Bark & Co. on making the adoption transition an easy one, as well as tips from renowned child development and pet expert, Dr. Aubrey Fine, on the benefits of children having a pet.
“While many parents want their children to experience the unconditional love that comes with having a pet, there are often concerns about bringing a new four-legger into the family – particularly in terms of cleanup,” Dr. Fine says. “For children, though, having a pet not only develops character through responsibilities like feeding and cleaning up after them, but also creates a home environment that’s rich with kindness and compassion.”
Swiffer, the top brand in the household wipes category, also aligned with actress Sarah Michelle Gellar last year. In a survey conducted by P&G and Swiffer, 72% felt that letting kids make a mess helps encourage their creativity, but nearly 95% of parents have said “no” to their kids’ requests because of the mess it could make. Therefore, the Swiffer brand urged parents to start saying “yes to the mess” and embrace these opportunities to learn and grow their children’s imagination, even when it means a messy floor afterwards.
During a kick-off event in New York City hosted by Gellar, children participated in a number of “untidy, but educational, activities” that parents would typically say no to, such as science projects and baking.
“I believe that while kids are born with a natural instinct towards creativity – it is still a skill that parents need to continually foster,” Gellar says. “My two kids work on fine and gross motor skills, math, science, vocabulary and more through baking, and their resulting smiles light up my day. That’s why I don’t mind having to clean up the cake batter and crumbs on my floors afterwards. And with Swiffer, I can enjoy saying ‘yes’ more often because I am able to get a thorough clean in minutes while indulging my kids’ sense of discovery and exploration. Not to mention I truly believe creativity is the road to invention.”
During the promotion, Swiffer invited parents to share their own messy experience with Swiffer using the social media hashtag
Meanwhile, Clorox, the No. 2 company in home care wipes and floor cleaning systems, recently used its brand power to empower girls interested in science as a sponsor of StemBox, a monthly subscription service providing at-home science experiments and encouragement to girls. The subscription service, which kicked-off in March, introduced recipients to the natural power of lemons.
Inside the first box were experiment tools and necessities such as gloves and safety goggles, as well as a full-size canister of Green Works wipes. Clorox’s Green Works brand founding scientist Maria Ochomogo was featured as part of the first StemBox.
StemBox was created by Kina McAllister, a DNA researcher at Fred Hutchinson Research Center in Seattle. McAllister completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for StemBox in August 2015 after seeing the limited science kits available to girls compared to boys.
“I am honored to have Green Works join on as the first sponsor of StemBox,” says McAllister. “I got into science because I wanted to make an impact on future generations. Learning Green Works cleaning products were created by a woman who was motivated to find a cleaning option that was less toxic for her family, and the planet, is exactly why we should encourage more girls to pursue careers in science.”
In other Clorox news, a different line of the brand’s wipes were recently honored for innovation. At last year’s World of Wipes (WOW) conference held in Atlanta, GA, Clorox ScrubSingles beat out a Brawny Industrial Flax Towels from Georgia-Pacific and DuraDry hygienic microfiber wipes from PGI Nonwovens/Chicopee, for the WOW Innovation Award. Nearly 500 conference attendees selected the disposable pad, which is pre-loaded with Clorox cleaner. According to Clorox, the patent-pending ScrubSingles pads feature a four-layer construction including an abrasive scrubbing layer, a middle layer to provide loft, a plastic film to act as a soap barrier and a bottom absorbent wipe layer. The pad is dry to the touch and activated with water.