Although the connection between young adults and cleaning supplies is not one that is readily made, they could be the key to the success of innovation in hard surface cleaners. Mintel finds that UK 16-34 year olds are in fact more likely than any other groups to be interested in, and willing to pay more for, new products, features or benefits for hard surface cleaning products.

This includes paying a bit more for antibacterial cleaners with different properties, such as those offering longer-lasting protection, probiotic cleaning products and products offering all-natural antibacterial protection made through the use of plant or mineral ingredients.

This ties in with Mintel research that found young people tend to be worried about germs, but are also more concerned about the impact using too many chemical-based cleaning products could have on their health. They are also significantly more likely to agree that containing natural ingredients is more important than powerful germ defence in cleaning products.

Other areas for opportunity

Another factor enticing younger consumers to trade up is having a wider choice of fragrances. Slightly less than a quarter of UK 16-24 year olds and 29% of 25-34 year olds say that they would be willing to pay more for surface cleaners that have exotic fragrances. This greater interest in scent mirrors their willingness to pay more for scent boosters in laundry detergents.

However, young consumers aren’t simply following their nose when it comes to selecting cleaning products, as new formats are also more likely to be well received by younger adults. These include cleaning concentrates in small cartridges that can be mixed with water and in spray bottles and cleaning gels (eg Flash Liquid Gel.) While such formats may not offer the convenience of wipes or trigger sprays, they can appeal in terms of reducing overdosing (saving money), saving space and helping the environment by reducing carbon footprint.

Although being on special offer and the lowest price are the two factors most likely to influence young people’s choice of brands – they are not the only important considerations made by young people. Other considerations include effectiveness at killing germs, coming in an easy to use format and being a longer-lasting product. These factors link strongly to the features and benefits young people are interested in and would pay more for. It also suggests, however, that some products benefits need stronger communication from brands than others.

How should brands target this demographic?

While more exotic fragrances and longer-lasting germ protection are relatively easy to communicate on packaging and directly appeal to what young people are looking for when shopping – new products in concentrated or compact formats that require dilution or those containing more environmentally-friendly ingredients require clearer communication to convince 16-34 year olds that they are worth buying.

Brands will also want to be taking note of 25-34 year olds as a key target group, as the majority of this age group are living independently of their parents and are therefore more involved with household cleaning and likely to be interested in products. They are also more likely to have children, but are still at the stage when they are yet to have firmly established household cleaning and buying patterns. As well as this, given the projected increase in their numbers over the next five years, expected to rise from 9 million in 2014 from 9.5 million in 2019, this group will become even more important.

Overall, the key areas of new product development that young adults are likely to be interested in are new types of antibacterial cleaners, new fragrance variants and longer-lasting or easy-to-use products. However, for new products to be successful the benefits must be clearly communicated to young adults, who have less firmly entrenched cleaning and purchasing patterns. For example, clearly explaining how products work in  media that is most likely to be used by those in this age group.

Richard Caines is Senior Household Analyst at Mintel and researches and writes Mintel’s Household Care reports. He has also worked as a senior analyst on Mintel’s household retail reports. Before Richard joined Mintel in 1998, he was Senior Editor at Key Note, a publisher of market information reports.

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