What’s the brand opportunity in: eco-friendly cleaning products?



22 Jul, 2021

It’s not just food, beverages and cosmetics that are guided by consumer trends and external forces. The cleaning product industry is also shaped by market influences: just look at what Instagram ‘clean queen’ Mrs Hinch has done for Zoflora sales.

One of the fastest rising 2021 home hygiene trends is eco-friendly cleaning products. And for CPG brands willing to embrace natural ingredients, sustainable manufacturing practices and purposeful packaging, there’s a billion-dollar opportunity waiting in the wings…

Keen on green when it comes to clean 

The green cleaning market is big business for brands. Last year alone, eco-friendly household products generated $3.9 billion in global sales, and analysts anticipate a compound annual growth rate of 11.8% between now and 2029. But what’s driving this?

In 2020, two major trends converged in the natural cleaning product market, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic: environmentalism and hyper-hygiene.

With most of the world locked down, people escaped to nature for relaxation and stress relief. This cemented people’s desire to protect the environment. Switching to greener cleaning products is an easy step in the right direction; naturally-derived and biodegradable ingredients are less impactful on our ecosystem, and many brands are pairing careful ingredient selection with sustainable manufacturing practices.

At the same time as this surge in environmental awareness, concerns over the spread of Covid-19 led consumers to spend more time cleaning. They became more willing to invest in products that matched their commitment to cleanliness – particularly products that appear on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of solutions proven to disinfect against coronavirus.

Hyper-hygienic consumers are also attracted to the health benefits of natural cleaning solutions. Especially as some symptoms of chemical-based product exposure are similar to Covid-19, such as coughing and headaches.

A safer way to sparkle – at home and at work 

There’s already momentum in the eco-friendly cleaning space, which provides a strong business case for brands to invest in natural alternatives. However, developing a product marketing strategy that targets certain audience sectors can increase your market advantage.

For example, there’s huge potential among consumers with young families. Switching to natural cleaning solutions removes the risk of children and pets accidentally coming into contact with toxic ingredients. To use the USA as an example of the difference this could make, 1 in 10 child poisoning incidents are from ingesting household cleaning products – that’s more than 100,000 cases each year.

There’s also a major commercial use case. Businesses can benefit from the fact that eco cleaning products are designed to last longer, reducing overall spend (even if the unit cost is higher). And they also improve indoor air quality for customers, compared to chemical rivals.

Let your eco credentials show their full potential 

Clearly, the green cleaning industry is set for rapid growth over the next decade. But it’s not enough for brands to look at the formulation of current product ranges, or develop a clever marketing strategy targeting a particular demographic group.

Consumers aren’t just purchasing something to keep their house hygienic; they’re buying into a set of brand values. And these need to be reflected in the way your eco-friendly items are packaged and managed.

Labelling is a good example of this. Not every country requires manufacturers to provide a detailed list of ingredients on cleaning product labels. However, when natural resources are your USP, it pays be as transparent as possible on product labelling. This way, you can reassure loyal customers, while capturing impulse purchase opportunities among consumers who are keen to improve their everyday choices.

There are also ways to positively promote your naturally chosen ingredients; AllergyCertified is an internationally recognised seal of approval that you can add to your product label, to show that your range is suitable for users with sensitive skin. This is particularly useful for cleaning solutions that come into contact with the body, such as laundry detergent and washing up liquid.

Go to war on plastic waste 

Product packaging is another a key concern that the natural cleaning product market needs to address. There’s a real clash of brand values if you’re promoting the eco-friendliness of a cleaning solution, but selling it in single use plastic.

To circumnavigate such challenges, brands like Method are focused on recyclable packaging, working towards a closed-loop manufacturing cycle. Many companies also promote the multi-purpose nature of their products, dissuading consumers from buying multiple solutions where one can do it all in an attempt to cut down on plastic consumption.

In both scenarios, it’s important to make sure your product label highlights that your packaging is made from recycled materials – and clearly shows consumers how to dispose of it responsibly when they’re done.

Another approach some brands are investing in is refill schemes for empty green cleaning items. For example, Common Good gives customers the choice between taking empty bottles to a physical refill station or ordering a refill pouch containing 86% less plastic than a standard container.

The challenge here is to label refills in a way that builds loyalty. So consumers aren’t tempted to just grab a fresh bottle of their old favourite when they’re out grocery shopping.

Aspire to be authentic 

The global pandemic will have long-term impacts way beyond medicine, and one of these is a renewed focus on health and the environment. To be part of the eco-friendly movement, brands in the sector can develop cleaning products with a natural ingredient focus. But this needs to involve more than just tweaking your existing approach.

Authenticity is the key to success in the green cleaning market. Brands need to embody environmentalism in every aspect of product development, manufacturing and distribution – and highlight them in the marketing proposition.

Putting these values front and centre of your labelling and packaging will help to drive uptake. Aspirational consumers are looking to improve green credentials in every aspect of their lives – and household cleaning products are an easy place to start.

For more insight into emerging brand opportunities, follow Hooley Brown on LinkedIn


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