Fresh Perspectives: Household Care Market Review

June 19, 2014
4 min read

This month’s Market Review looks at the total household care market in Brazil, China, the UK and the US, where Mintel has recently published a free key market comparison – available for download here.

Figure 1: Market sizes and per capita spend on household care, 2013.

graph final

Source: Mintel Global Market Sizes

No longer the Cinderella

To the uninitiated this could be regarded as the marketers’ Cinderella. Enthusiasm for looking after the home is not universal and, in the past, advertising could be accused of a mundane focus on functionality. But this belies the amount of investment that now goes into the sector: not only in the efficacy and delivery of the products, but also in the marketing and promotion. The globalisation of markets has meant that suppliers must consider the socio-cultural differences about maintaining the home. The division of labour for doing the chores varies considerably both between and within countries. Household size and the presence of children are also other key determinants that international marketers must take into account.

Potential clean up

True, the market accounts for under 2% of total expenditure in the four countries; but with combined sales of some $US 143 billion in 2013, it is not a market to be swept under the carpet. It means that for every citizen in these countries, an average of $US 74 is spent in this area. The Chinese market accounts for over a half (see first column of Figure 1) of the countries’ sales, with the US taking just under another third. However, looking at per capita expenditure (in the second column of Figure 1), the division between developed and emerging economies can be seen. Residents of the former spend around two and half times as much as those in the latter. If Brazilian and Chinese consumers were to spend as much as the Americans currently do, at today’s populations and exchange rates, it would add another US£133 billion – almost doubling the market: a sector worth a second look.

Chinese growth

Mintel’s key market comparison gives details of the growth in the markets and, as expected, show Brazil and China as the most dynamic (in local currencies), even taking into account the higher inflation in these countries. But of the two, it is China where these products offer more promise; as a share of spend it increased between 2008 and 2013. By contrast, in Brazil, the proportion has shrunk slightly.

Different countries; different priorities

Analysis of the components reveals opportunities. Cleaning durables (such as non-motorised cleaning tools) account for a small share of the UK and US markets, while in China these are still a sizeable chunk. However, more of the growth here was in the last decade and consumables offer more in the way of cohesive branding opportunities in future.

Not to be sneezed at

Looking at the main six categories in consumables on Mintel’s Market Size Database: air fresheners, dishwashing products, fabric care, household cleaners, insect killers & repellents, paper products; there are distinct contrasts in segmentation between the countries. True, the necessities, paper products and fabric care, are by far the largest areas of spend but in China, where together, they account for over 80% ; while for the other countries they represent around two thirds. However, while paper products come top in three countries, in Brazil fabric care takes the lion’s share. This is largely due to the low spend on facial tissues there – accounting for just 2% of household paper versus a half in China, where there is great demand for quality products.

Something in the air

Air fresheners have spending patterns which largely reflect the standards of living in the countries, ranging from 12% in the US, to under 1% in China. There is a large discretionary element to this sector, but it indicates the potential if the emerging economies were to catch up. It was not so long ago that air care was a distress purchase in developed economies, confined to the bathroom. Considerable investment in repositioning and formulation has transformed this. The process is only just starting in other countries.

Download the full version of our key market comparison now to navigate the shift of household budgets and consumer spending priorities – as well as see markets in context via Mintel’s interactive data charts, by clicking here.

Peter Ayton
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