Jack Duckett
Jack Duckett is an Associate Director for Consumer Lifestyles Research. He specialises in reports exploring the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

Consumers shopping for disinfectant will be no strangers to the vast array of bottles in different shapes, sizes and colours that they are greeted with in the supermarket and online. However, a new concept from US company Vital Vio could see the way we disinfect our surfaces revolutionised.

A new way to clean?

Vital Vio is a light-based disinfectant system, that uses a harmless white light from a specialised overheard fitting. The fitting claims to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria, without the need for harsh chemicals.

Moving away from routine surface cleaning, the light is designed to be permanently left on, providing continuous protection from bacteria, such as MRSA, E. Coli and salmonella. The light claims to offer 90% disinfection after just one and a half hours of use, going up to 99.9% after 16 hours.

For those concerned with the idea of leaving the light on for a prolonged length of time, it is said to be environmentally friendly, using LEDs to create the light that require minimal energy to power and that also meet international human and animal safety standards for light exposure.

The Vital Vio system does away with the need for harsh chemical cleaners, which have less guaranteed results and are also unsafe for continuous usage. At this stage Vital Vio is designed for use in hospitals; however, the company behind the products suggests that Vital Vio is also applicable for hotels, gyms and public toilets.

Consumers torn when it comes to cleaning

When it comes to consumer opinion about disinfecting their homes, UK consumers are not only concerned about the germs found around their home, but also by the impact that the harsh chemicals found in many household care products can have on their or their family’s health.

Almost 50% of Brits worry about the environmental impact of using too many chemical-based cleaning products

Indeed, according to Mintel’s research four in 10 UK adults worry about coming into contact with viruses (e.g. different strains or flu or norovirus), whilst nearly the same proportion worry about getting food poisoning from harmful bacteria. However, almost half of Brits worry about the environmental impact of using too many chemical-based cleaning products and 44% worry about the impact those chemicals have on their health.

These concerns both tie into the Mintel trend Factor Fear, which looks at how product recalls, allergy scares and villainous additives have made people more wary of the products they buy and have become more keyed into the “built-in” dangers of certain goods.

As such, Vital Vio finds itself well-timed and positioned, as there is an opportunity for a chemical-free disinfectant system to be rolled out for domestic situations. These types of systems could be left on in bathrooms and kitchens throughout the day, both to amplify the effects of existing cleaning routines, as well as to replace the need for the use of harsh chemicals in the home.

Environmentally-friendly cleaning product brands could also create ranges of products designed to complement the system, with cleaners designed more to gently remove marks and dirt from surfaces, whilst the light would act to kill the bacteria. This is likely to appeal to consumers seeking to disinfect their homes, whilst avoiding the use harsh chemicals.

What does the new technology mean for the market?

As previously mentioned, as the light is designed for use in hospitals, this technology presents a similar opportunity for the domestic market. Light-based disinfectant solutions could do away with the need for some of the harsher chemicals found in some household cleaning products, which would satisfy consumer desire for ridding germs in home, whilst also placating those with fears surrounding the impact chemical-based cleaners have on the environment.

Such technological developments as this could however pose a threat to the traditional household care products market, with products carrying antibacterial claims becoming no longer relevant.

Looking outside the household and personal care market, the system has the potential to be integrated into public transport, thus helping to keep handrails and seats cleaner, which in turn could help reduce the spread of viruses and infections.

Mintel’s Consumer Lifestyle Analyst Jack Duckett, joined Mintel as a Research Executive in August 2012. At Mintel, he specialises in working on reports for the household and food and drink sectors. Jack also has a keen interest in social media and cultural trends.