Looks like a lingering effect of frugalism is shaping America's weekend plans: Spring-cleaning, from big buckets of suds to organizing the garage, is making a comeback.
Iconoculture, a Minneapolis-based trendspotting firm, says it has been tracking online chatter, and that about 48% of mentions are about organizing projects, 29% focus on cleaning out a storage space, like a closet or attic; 12% are about decluttering, 6% about cleaning the garage and 5% about donating items from around the house.
"Home-cleaning really gives people a sense of control over their environment," Nissa Hanna, a consumer strategist for Iconoculture, tells Marketing Daily. "And in our surveys, we've found that 25% of respondents acknowledge that they've been more active and interested in cleaning their homes since the start of the recession." She says there is another trend driving these smaller-scale cleaning and improving projects.
"Many younger consumers fall into the Gen Y category we call 'home artisans,'" she says. "They're really enthusiastic about learning all kinds of skills, from gardening to knitting to sewing to cleaning effectively. For them, it's about reconnecting with authenticity. They want to be able to really dig in and get their hands dirty, and it's giving them a sense of accomplishment they haven't had since childhood."
Organization is emerging as a skill consumers need to be flexible and frugal, she says: "You can't really know what you need to buy unless you have a good sense of what you already own."
This year's Spring Cleaning survey from the Soap and Detergent Association is turning up similar themes. Of the 60% of Americans who say they commit to spring-cleaning, removing clutter is the No. 1 goal. (Thoroughly cleaning the house and eliminating asthma and allergy triggers come in second and third.) About 65% of the cleaners say they get it all done within a week; 13% finish in a single day, and 11% say it takes them about a month.
And while companies like Lowe's and the Home Depot make a big deal of spring-cleaning, offering specials on everything from new kitchens to patio furniture, all the evidence points to low-budget projects, says Hanna.
"People are still in that space where they are very mindful of the economy and the housing market, so they are taking on DIY projects that are small financial investments offering big payoffs. They are much more likely to be painting kitchen cabinets and adding new hardware than buying new cabinets, let alone redoing the entire kitchen."