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Occasion Cleaning and the Future of Home Care and Appliances

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Post-pandemic, consumers are cleaning less often, shifting from daily routines to cleaning only when necessary, a trend known as “occasion cleaning”. Furthermore, household sizes are decreasing globally due to slower population growth, diminishing the demand for regular deep cleaning and impacting the utilisation of home care products and appliances. Nevertheless, pet ownership necessitates more frequent cleaning, creating growth opportunities in the home care and appliances sectors.

Occasion cleaning and shrinking households present challenges to home products

Throughout all regions, there has been a significant decrease in the number of consumers who engage in daily cleaning or chores since the start of the pandemic, according to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Surveys. The initial decline in daily cleaning was likely driven by consumers hosting guests less frequently due to COVID-19 isolation policies and general fatigue, and this trend continues to persist even as consumers resume their pre-pandemic activities.

An 18% decrease in reports of daily cleaning or chores between 2019 and 2023, suggests that the trend towards cleaning only when necessary, known as “occasion cleaning”, is becoming more established

Source: Euromonitor Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Surveys 2019-2023, n=6,109-14,355

Consequently, there was an increase in the number of respondents who reported cleaning weekly or monthly during the same period.Chart showing Percentage of respondents who report cleaning or doing other domestic chores at least  once a day

When examining the frequency of cleaning reported by households, unsurprisingly, a higher percentage of survey respondents in larger households clean daily compared to those who live alone. Nevertheless, there is a noticeable trend away from daily cleaning across all types of households.

27.1% of survey participants living in households with children reported cleaning daily, while only 17% of respondents in single-person households did so, and the proportion of single-person households is projected to increase by 8% by 2028

Source: Euromonitor Voice of the Consumer: Lifestyle Surveys 2019-2023, n=6,109-14,355

This shift will likely affect the usage and demand for various home products and appliances in the near future.Chart showing Percentage of respondents who report cleaning at least once a day by household members

In contrast to households with multiple occupants, single-person households typically require less frequent cleaning due to their smaller size and fewer residents. As consumers increasingly adopt less frequent cleaning routines, we anticipate a decrease in the demand for specialised home care products that serve singular functions or are considered non-essential for cleaning and maintenance, such as kitchen and bathroom cleaners and wash and wax floor cleaners. In Western Europe, where there is a high prevalence of single-person households, these products are expected to see a decline in sales growth over the next five years as consumers gravitate towards simpler and less time-consuming cleaning and maintenance practices. Specifically, multi-purpose cleaners and impregnated wipes are expected to benefit from this shift with a projected 3% CAGR between 2024 and 2028 as consumers use them as multifunctional alternatives to single-function specialised cleaning products.

Pet owners present growth opportunities for appliance manufacturers

The increase in single-person households and a decline in cleaning frequency pose challenges to the appliances industry, as appliances may experience a decrease in usage rates and subsequent reduction in wear and tear, leading to longer product lifecycles and less frequent upgrades. However, pet owners offer opportunities for growth due to their heightened cleaning requirements. In 2023, 54.9% of households owned pets, with 24.1% of pet owners cleaning daily compared to 18.7% of non-pet owners, indicating a greater demand for cleaning products and related appliances. Although the percentage of pet owners cleaning daily decreased during the pandemic, aligning with the occasion cleaning trend observed in other households, pet-owning households generally have more extensive cleaning needs, higher average wealth, and a strong willingness to invest in pet care and home maintenance.Chart showingPercentage of respondents who report cleaning at least once a day by pet ownership

In the appliances space, manufacturers are focusing on developing innovative products tailored to address the needs of pet owners, particularly in the laundry, wet and dry vacuum, and air treatment sectors. For instance, Whirlpool has introduced the Maytag Pet Pro Washer & Dryer, equipped with a Pet Pro filter that effectively captures and eliminates pet hair and dander during the laundry cycle. In the robotic vacuum cleaners market, recent advancements in mapping technology have significantly improved the ability to handle pet waste, and the iLife V3s Pro is recognised for its efficient tangle-free design that picks up pet hair effectively. Additionally, in the air treatment space, there is a rising demand for air purifiers equipped with filters designed specifically to capture pet hair, offering relief for those with pet allergies. Mila smart air purifiers, for example, provide a range of filters tailored to various user needs, such as the Critter Cuddler filter, designed with a robust HEPA and carbon filtration system to effectively remove pet dander and odours, thereby enhancing air quality and freshness.Chart showing Percentage of respondents who report owning a smart appliance by region and pet  ownershipOver the next five years, air purifiers and robotic vacuum cleaners are projected to experience a CAGR of 3.0% and 6.8% (in retail volume terms), respectively, driven by their alignment with the prevailing occasion cleaning trend. Consumers are increasingly seeking cleaning solutions that save time and require less effort. Both air purifiers and robotic vacuum cleaners meet this demand by providing passive, continuous cleaning capabilities. Additionally, appliance manufacturers can collaborate with consumable brands to unlock greater value for consumers as seen in iRobot and Bona’s partnership, which combines iRobot Braava jet m6 robot mop technology with Bona’s highly effective hardwood cleaning solutions and PowerPlus Microfiber Deep Clean Pad. Manufacturers that cater to the specific cleaning needs of pet owners, who represent a significant portion of households worldwide, may also gain a competitive edge through differentiation in their respective categories, such as Bona’s Pet System which targets pet hair and odours with pet-friendly cleaning formulas.

Read our article, CES 2024: Manufacturers Bank on AI and Assistive Tech, for more analysis on trends in the small consumer appliances space.

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