Consumer interest in sustainable lifestyles and non-polluting products is about to nudge the U.S. bathroom, household and laundry sectors into greener pastures.
A report from Packaged Facts says eco-friendly is where the opportunity is, with products offering ideological, practical and functional benefits. The report says that while green cleaners accounted for just "a small sliver" of the overall household cleaner market last year, "more and more consumers will make cleaning a lifestyle choice rather than simply a sanitary chore, pushing green cleaners from the fringe into the mainstream."
The new study, "Green Household Cleaning Products in the U.S." on dish detergents, bathroom cleaners, general household cleaners, laundry care and detergent products and other products, says of the $557 million consumers spent last year on green products, $339 million came from green household cleaning products and $218 million from green laundry products.
While that $557 million is only 3% of the total amount that consumers spent last year on the category, Packaged Facts says sales of green cleaners grew 229% between 2005 and 2009, more than doubling their footprint in dollar terms and more than tripling their share of the total household cleaner market.
"Emotional-, therapeutic- and sensory-influenced benefits such as family safety, health and wellness, aromatherapy, style and design, and environmental concerns have emerged as important drivers in the segment," says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts, in a statement. He says if the trend continues, sales of green products will reach $2 billion by 2014.
The Packaged Facts study says that as of February 2010, 42% of adult consumers reported having used "a natural, organic, or ecologically friendly household cleaning/laundry product" within the previous year, versus 38% of respondents in the February 2009 survey. According to the firm, that 42% usage rate permutes to 48 million households, or almost $12 per customer household.
Procter & Gamble, which won several sustainability awards last year from the likes of Dow Jones, Corporate Knights and Just Means, is looking to make industry-manufacturing standards greener with a program it launched this month. The company says the "Supplier Environmental Sustainability Scorecard" will measure suppliers' energy use, water use, waste disposal and greenhouse gas emissions on a year-to-year basis.
The idea, per P&G, is that the scorecard will be a kind of "open source" sustainability-measuring tool not just for companies that make the ingredients P&G uses in things like shampoo, but for any company manufacturing anything "To help promote a working discussion and determine common supply chain evaluation processes across all industries."
P&G Chairman and CEO Bob McDonald said growing business globally means "we must continually innovate and grow responsibly and sustainably. Keeping sustainability at the core of our business fuels innovation and strengthens our results." The company says the standard on which the new scorecard is based includes protocols from the World Resources Institute, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Carbon Disclosure Project.