It’s been a wild year for cleaning product companies. Between periodic runs on supplies at the grocery store and debates as to what actually cleans better, it’s clear that consumer sentiment about products hasn’t changed much over the past two years, pandemic notwithstanding.
But if anything, attitudes have shifted slightly more in favor of natural cleaning products (such as Seventh Generation, Ecover, and Mrs. Meyer’s) as opposed to their generally more well-known counterparts. Use and intent for natural brands have inched up by a few percentage points, while overall awareness has also increased.
That being said, overall satisfaction among users alone has decreased since last year – returning to pre-pandemic levels.
So while the cleaning demands of the pandemic may have increased the overall use of natural products, it hasn’t changed overall satisfaction with them. This drop in positive user experiences also tracks with data that seems to imply that consumers perhaps have been more willing to try natural cleaning products over the pandemic, though possibly only out of necessity.
Those not at all interested in natural cleaning products have risen to 38%, seven points higher than in 2019, suggesting that while people may have been more willing to buy and use natural cleaning products over the course of the pandemic (perhaps because it was the only available product in their stores), they have since returned to the products and brands they are more traditionally familiar with.
This reflects a broader trend of the drop in eco-friendly behaviors since the start of the pandemic, which CivicScience took a more in-depth look at late last year.
A Broad Look at Users
Regardless of overall eco-friendly behavior, women remain overwhelmingly more likely than men to use or intend to use all-natural cleaning products.
Forty-seven percent of women report having used all-natural cleaning products, compared to only one-quarter of men. This gender gap is relatively consistent to 2020’s numbers, however, though perhaps as a result of men taking on more cleaning duties around the house during the pandemic, the percentage of men aware of all-natural cleaning products has risen significantly.
Use and intent of natural cleaning products has also stayed relatively static among age groups from last year to this year, with the exception that Gen Z (18- to 24-year-olds) have become significantly more aware of natural cleaning products, though not necessarily more likely to use or intend to use them.
It is interesting that even through the length of a pandemic, Gen Z continues to closely resemble Baby Boomers in their mindset, rather than those just one or two generations up.
And while you may presume that income is correlated, use or intent remains consistent across all incomes, with the slight exception of the lowest income bracket.
Available Market Gaps
So while people are aware of all natural cleaning products, and large segments of demographics of all kinds have used or intend to use the products, the overall market hasn’t grown much at all over the last two years. If a global pandemic can only slightly nudge the needle, what seems to be holding back the all natural cleaning product industry?
One issue might be that people in general aren’t all that familiar with what all natural cleaning products are.
Almost 3 out of 10 respondents aren’t familiar with the differences in products, which implies a huge segment of the population might be interested if only they knew more.
In addition to that, and more worrisome for natural brands, over forty percent (41%) of the general population believes that all-natural cleaning products aren’t as effective as traditional products, as opposed to just under one-quarter (23%) that do.
This sentiment is particularly strong among adult Gen Zers, and increases as income increases.
It seems that higher-income households tend to like the standard brand names they already use, and have trouble thinking that all-natural products can be just as effective at cleaning. All-natural brands may need to focus their marketing efforts towards these segments.
Unsurprisingly, those who make it a priority to purchase goods or services that are more eco-friendly report higher percentages in thinking that natural products are just as effective as traditional ones.
While not unexpected, this data does suggest that people buy natural products because they are already concerned about the environment, rather than because the products themselves do a good job.
Perhaps more growth for natural cleaning products lies in less focus on its eco-friendly branding, and more on its effectiveness as a cleaning product in order to win new customers.
Now that the pandemic shows signs of subsiding in the next few months, and while overall awareness of cleanliness is higher among the general population as a result of the last year, it may be the best time for natural cleaning product makers to reach out to new markets.