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What do you mean by clean? Household cleaning has undergone many changes over the years and more are on the way, as suppliers develop novel ingredients and marketers put them into effective formulations that promise to make chores easier than ever.

Who cleans the home and how it's done is in a state of flux. Women no longer measure their self-worth based on the cleanliness of their kitchen. No surprise there, as the increase in dual-income families and single person households have reordered cleaning routines for many consumers. But what may be surprising is how these demographic changes are impacting the role that cleaning plays in women and men's lives. According to Tom McNulty, author of Clean Like a Man:

* 50% of men are solely responsible for grocery shopping;

* 42% do all the laundry; and

* 37% do most of the housecleaning.

More men are cleaning, McNulty insisted; those that don't can blame ignorance, not apathy, for their less than sparkling countertops, kitchen floors and bathrooms. McNulty maintained that it's not uncommon for a guy to put Dawn hand dishwashing liquid in an automatic dishwashing machine that leads, of course, to lot of suds and a firm resolve to avoid such messes in the future.

"Ignorance is enemy No. 1; nobody ever taught us how to clean," explained McNulty.

As a result, men are unfamiliar with the proper tools and solutions to get a room clean and keep it that way.

"Once a room gets cluttered, small jobs become big jobs and men won't do it," he insisted

A couple of startups are determined to change the way men feel about cleaning by developing products designed specifically for them. Hero Clean is a line of household cleaning products that includes laundry detergent, all-purpose spray cleaner, liquid dish soap and odor-eliminating spray.

"Guys are actually unbelievable cleaners, so long as they care about what they are cleaning," insisted company founder Mike Eaton, who spent time at Procter & Gamble and other fast-moving consumer product companies. They better be good cleaners. Eaton cited US Census estimates that there are between 40 and 50 million men living alone in the US, and that doesn't include college students.

"Gen Xers and Millennial are a tidy bunch; they groom, they clean, they even cook--especially the ones living alone," said Eaton. "Personally, I think it hasn't been socially acceptable for guys to act like they care."

To keep guys caring and cleaning, Hero Clean boasts a juniper berry-based fragrance that's designed to appeal to a guy's olfactive sensibilities too; the products are all packaged in silver, industrial-looking packages that evoke images of motor oil. Even the dispensing mechanisms are aimed at guys, with larger-sized triggers and pumps.

Frey Detergent for Men is another newcomer to the cleaning aisle that is designed just for guys. It too sports a manly scent, this one based on oak and musk. The liquid formula comes in a sleek black bottle with a dramatic red cap. In their manifesto, the company founders maintain that detergent products are explicitly tailored toward women, stemming from an era that society, has outgrown.

"Frey offers men a laundry product of their own. In doing so, (we) hope to help break down stereotypes about who should do which household chores," say Frey brothers Erin (that's right, Erin) and Leif.

When creating cleaning products for a man, marketers must realize that they are selling products to a different animal, agreed McNulty, who provided several rules when marketing to men:

* Keep it simple;

* Keep it light;

* Make it a game;

* Don't insult us;

* Acknowledge us; and

* Show us the rewards.

Acknowledgement? Rewards? Women have been doing laundry, mopping floors and disinfecting surfaces for centuries; guys finally step up and now they want a gold star? Marketers may not be able to pat a fellow on the head for doing housework, but they certainly can make boring chores a bit easier. That was the message at the recent Cleaning Products 2015 conference that was held last month in Arlington, VA.

Innovate to Win

Making men's and women's cleaning chores easier pays off for marketers who can deliver innovative ideas. In a recent presentation to analysts, Clorox CEO Benno Dorer told the audience that the 102-year old bleach maker is innovating its way to market share gains. Those gains, in turn, have helped power a 21% jump in the company's stock price. Six of the company's eight US business units increased their market share year over year in the quarter, with laundry, home care and charcoal achieving the most sizable improvements. Dorer noted that while Clorox's share of the standard bleach category fell, there was strong demand for its newer splashless bleach variant. Similarly, new product innovations within the Glad trash bag business, such as scented bags, led to "meaningful" market share gains in the category during the June quarter.

Innovation drives Reckitt Benckiser, too. Forbes, in fact, put RB at No. 53 in its listing of the world's most innovative companies, that's behind Unilever Indonesia (No. 6) and Hindustan Unilever (No. 41) but ahead of Colgate-Palmolive (No. 82). Household cleaning category stalwarts such as SC Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Kao didn't even make the cut. A few of the newest new products from RB are Finish Shine & Protect with Glass Protect Action, which promises to protect glasses throughout the washing cycle for "two-times longer" glass protection; Air Wick Life Scents, an environmental fragrance technology that creates constantly changing fragrance experiences for the home; and Vanish Gold and Gold for Whites, which promise to make white garments three times whiter and remove stains in 30 seconds.

Where Did the Time Go?

Getting the job done right, quickly and easily is more important than ever. According to surveys conducted by The Good Housekeeping Institute (GHI), in the 1950s, women spent 42 hours a week on housework. Today, the hours spent on housework each week is down dramatically, according to Michaelle Exhume, a home care product analyst with GHI, which began evaluating products in 1900 and continues to evaluate and issue product alerts today. This year, GHI polled more than 1,300 women in the US ages 18-80. Two-thirds work outside the home, 71% are married and 40% have children under 18.

Interestingly, according to the most recent GHI data, men and women both spend 15 hours a week on household cleaning chores. But what actually constitutes household cleaning may be gender bias. That's because 76% of women said they do the family wash, while just 5% of men do their own laundry. GHI found that 17% of couples share laundry duties and 2% use hired help. When it comes to washing the dishes, it's women's work according to 66% of respondents, which is well ahead of shared responsibility (22%), my spouse (10%) and children (2%). In regard to a general term such as cleaning, women are even more in the majority with 74% saying they handle the cleaning chores compared to even split (17%), hired help (7%) and my partner (2%).

Making cleaning simpler is a key attribute of the most successful cleaning products. Sales in the household cleaner category (which excludes segments like laundry and dish detergent) rose less than 2% during the past year to $3.2 billion, according to IRI, Chicago. All-purpose cleaner is far and away the biggest segment within the category with sales of more than $1 billion. Clorox holds the lion's share in the segment at more than 33%, well ahead of RB (12%), Colgate (11.3%), SC Johnson (9.7%) and Procter & Gamble (9.3%).

What's in There?

Whether you're cleaning clothes, cleaning countertops or cleaning toilets, surface modification is the name of the game. Evonik's Andras Nagy explained how hydrophilic-hydrophobic surface modification is an improvement over traditional surfactant systems. Evonik's goal was to create a synthetic surface similar to lotus leaves using water/solvent-based dispersions of nanoparticles. Some of the benefits of these systems is that they minimize cleaning frequency, are self-cleaning by rain or rinse-water, facilitate dust removal and can be renewed. These nanodispersed systems are efficient on a range of surfaces and even have applications as insect repellents.

Brij Moudgil of the University of Florida provided an update on engineered particulate and surfactant systems for home cleaning applications. He noted that allergy and respiratory problems account for 25% of emergency room visits in the US and are the No. 1 chronic cause of school absenteeism. Moreover, there are two million infections and 99,000 deaths due to infections reported by hospitals each year. But using titanium dioxide and polyhydroxy fullerenes (PHF), chemists create biocompatible, biodegradable delivery systems that can control release antimicrobials and other actives on a variety of surfaces. These antimicrobial actives are transparent, kill all microbes, are easy to apply and long-lasting, too, Moudgil maintained.

Chemistry has the been the backbone of cleaning innovations for decades, but Corey Naab of DuPont Industrial Bioscience insisted that biotechnology will play a critical role in future breakthroughs.

"Our resources are contracting and our population is growing," he reminded the audience. "Biotechnology holds the key to solving our problems."

He noted that bioengineering allows for production scale at metric tonnes to deliver performance products for fast-moving consumer goods. The stuff works too, as engineered amylase greatly improves washing performance at 16[degrees]C.

Enzymes aren't new to household cleaning formulas in the developed world, but they can offer a world of advantages for companies doing business in emerging markets. Joel Lampe of Novozymes provided details on a survey and in-home test among more than 500 consumers in India. He reminded attendees how important it is to understand the needs of consumers wherever they live. For example, the top five laundry priorities for Indians are:

* Tough stain/soil removal (38%);

* Whiteness of white clothes (17%);

* Brightness of colored clothes (10%);

* Ease of rinse (8%); and

* Requires less scrubbing (5%).

When asked if they would purchase a formula that could take away the most difficult stains better, 91% of consumers said they intended to purchase such a formula and 82% were willing to pay a premium. In measuring feedback on optimized formulations with Novozymes' enzyme solution versus a leading benchmark detergent without enzymes, respondents preferred the enzyme formula by a wide margin:

* Keeping white clothes white (51% preferred Novozymes solution v. 25% no difference and 25% benchmark is better);

* Overall stain removal (48% preferred Novozymes solution vs. 27% no difference and 25% benchmark is better);

* Quick removal of stains with little effort (41% preferred Novozymes solution vs. 32% no difference and 27% benchmark is better); and

* Cuffs & collar cleaning (48% preferred Novozymes solution vs. 30% no difference and 22% benchmark is better).

Looking ahead, Lampe said the trend toward lower wash temperatures favors a move toward enzymes, but biotechnology alone isn't the answer.

"For optimal detergent performance, you need surfactants and enzymes," maintained Lampe. "There is room for a marriage."

On the topic of unlikely marriages, who knew that there's a link between consumers growing distaste for orange juice and the household cleaning category? According to Steve Block of Elevance, US orange juice demand has hit a 12-year year low in the US falling 50% during that time to about 35 million gallons. But at the same time, lower orange juice supply has created a shortage of d-limonene, which is a key component of many cleaners due to its excellent degreasing properties.

To remedy the situation, the company launched Elevance Clean 1000, a naturally-derived ingredient that Block maintains easily formulates with d-limonene to reduce dependence on the material without impacting product performance. That's because Clean 1000 has a similar HLB (11-13) to d-limonene, yet has three times the performance of d-limonene in formulation. As a result, Elevance Clean 1000 brings new power to degreasing and asphalt/tar removal applications, according to Block.

What Do You Say?

The marketing department of any FMCG company is always ready to tout a new formula as working "better than Brand X." But before putting that message out on the airways or the internet, better consult a lawyer first. That's because advertising claims are monitored by a host of outside groups; including the Federal Trade Commission, State Attorneys General, competitors, TV networks, consumers and the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau. Among that cadre of critics, a marketer's best friend just may be the NAD, which is a self-regulating system that settles complaints brought by a competitor on a company's product claims; claims that can include puffery, consumer surveys, product testing and pricing to name just a few. While the NAD's rulings are non-binding, most companies follow the division's judgment.

NAD attorney Annie M. Ugurlayan reviewed several claims, such as SC Johnson's claim that its Fantastik Scrubbing Bubbles Heavy Duty formula "cleans tough, greasy (kitchen) soils two times better than Clorox Clean-Up." NAD urged SCJ to discontinue the claim because the test soil, "was not sufficiently tenacious."

In another case, Procter & Gamble claimed that its Swiffer Sweeper "leaves your floors up to 3X cleaner than a broom (on dirt, dust and hair)." A competitor challenged the claim and NAD urged P&G to discontinue the claim because the advertiser's testing was insufficiently reliable. According to Ugurlayan, only two brooms were tested, all household surfaces were not tested, the soil was not consumer relevant and the very small test area favored Swiffer Sweeper.

There's no denying that cleaning is easier today than ever, thanks to novel formulas, ingredients and surfaces. Just remember, law schools are turning out graduates in record numbers, too and these fresh-faced attorneys are eager to air a company's dirty laundry in court.

Tom Branna * Editorial Director
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Author:Branna, Tom
Publication:Household & Personal Products Industry
Date:Nov 1, 2015
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