Hera Crossan
Hera Crossan is a Personal Care Analyst at Mintel. Her background is in public relations consultancy, where she represented international financial services firms.

Scrubbing the floors and tidying up the living room are not generally seen as glamorous activities. This is mainly because people see cleaning as a fairly mundane task that just “has to be done” when they have time. But in the past year, a new type of social media star has emerged: the cleaning influencer! They tap into a natural curiosity towards other people’s homes, and into the overall trend of using social media to live vicariously through others. Mrs Hinch is the household cleaning category’s leading influencer. Here, we look at how she’s driving major disruption in the low-growth cleaning products category.

Cleaning becomes ‘Instagrammable’

In 2018, the social media influencer arrived in the household cleaning category, in the shape of former hairdresser Sophie Hinchliffe from Essex, a.k.a. Mrs Hinch. Despite only joining Instagram in March 2018, Mrs Hinch had already built a 2.5 million-strong following on the platform within just one year. Her book ‘Mrs Hinch – Hinch Yourself Happy’, published by Penguin in April 2019, has been among Amazon’s best sellers for weeks.

Credit: @Mrshinchhome

Mrs Hinch’s success is also in large part down to her presentation: glamorous, yet down-to-earth; she has flawlessly blow-dried long hair, yet she buys her cleaning product bargains at budget stores. She is fully made-up, but highly relatable. Her authenticity makes it easy for her audience to identify with her, and particularly to trust her recommendations.

What’s interesting is that Mrs Hinch is shining a light on some of the unseen, or unrecognised, parts of cleaning, such how it can aid how people feel on the inside. We’re seeing more and more focus from consumers on holistic, rounded approaches to wellbeing, using all different ways and means.

And Mintel data reveals that about four in 10 cleaners feel stressed and ashamed when their homes aren’t clean, so promoting the benefits to mental wellbeing through cleaning could be a real factor in why influencers are proving popular.

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Mrs Hinch already moves the market…

The effect that Mrs Hinch can have on sales of cleaning products is now beginning to be seen. Two of Mrs Hinch’s favourite products, Zoflora disinfectant and Minky sponge cloths, have both made headlines in recent months for selling out across the country. Several newspapers reported in November 2018 that consumers were struggling to find any Zoflora on the shelves, while Minky cloths have risen from £2.45 to £9 online as consumers struggle to find them in shops. Retailers have also started promoting the products on Mrs Hinch’s list of preferred products as a group – the ‘Hinch Haul’, for example, as promoted by the discounter Savers.

This is quite rare for a category that doesn’t traditionally rely on hypes and trends. It’s also proving to be a new way of targeting the younger generation, which tends to be less engaged with the market and therefore less sure about what kind of products to use, or how to use them.

…but could her own brand revolutionise it?

It is worth noting that Mrs Hinch doesn’t ‘advertise’ individual products as much as we have come to expect from top influencers. Brands regularly send Mrs Hinch samples of their products co-branded with her name, receiving a lot of positive feedback from her followers, although this is yet to materialise into a formal collaboration with any cleaning brands. This may simply be to retain the trust of her followers, but it also suggests the possibility of Hinch-branded cleaning products in the future. Her popularity is based on her recommendation and demonstration of products, rather than routines and individual cleaning companies, as in the case of other less-successful influencers. The fact that she does not accept money for promoting these products is an important mark of impartiality. Paid endorsements of cleaning products would likely reduce the trust of her followers, damage her personal brand, and not mirror the significantly increased sales seen by Zoflora and Minky.