The Evolution Of Consumers' Use Patterns

Smithers Apex sat down with Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President, Education & Meetings, American Cleaning Institute and Dr. Steve Bolkan, Director of Research, Church & Dwight Co. Inc. and asked them to share their insights into how consumer behaviors, attitudes and habits have changed over the years when they are dealing with cleaning products.

Smithers: At this year’s event we will include different perspectives of how the Cleaning Products Industry has evolved over the years as a way to look back and learn from the past for future decisions. Without giving away too much of your presentation, can you share with us the top 3 changes in the last 30 years that have been the more striking for you of how consumers purchase and use home care products?

Nancy: Looking back over the past few decades, I would say that the consumer’s expectation for easy-to-use cleaning products is now the rule, not the exception.  Cleaning has always been seen as being a chore, but the availability of easy, effective and efficient cleaning products and delivery systems are driving the products that end up on the shopping list.  Think about products like disinfecting and cleaning wipes, electrostatic dust catchers, and unit-dose detergents for laundry and dish cleaning. It’s easier to clean than ever before.



Steve: The top three changes within cleaning industry over the last 30 years has to include the conversion of consumer laundry from powdered to liquid format, being driven by consumer convenience and improved detergent solubility.  I think two others of significance would be the rise and viability of natural products and natural ingredients as well as the growth of pre-treat and laundry additive products.   



Smithers: In your opinion, how can consumer products companies respond to consumer feedback for new product development, packaging technologies updates, sustainability challenges and convenience while at the same time being the innovation drivers?

Nancy: I believe that our industry has always been at the forefront of not just listening to consumers, but delivering what consumers ask for as well as getting ahead of the next big cleaning trend. But make no mistake about it, it is often an expensive, time-consuming process to pull together the R&D, raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes, product use and safety testing, and product branding, marketing and  distribution. At the end of the day, our industry knows that the consumer is boss and must respond with innovations that offer a continuous sustainable solution for cleaning.

In my years working at ACI, I would say that our member companies have really looked inside and outside their companies for solutions and embraced collaboration more than ever to produce effective cleaning products that provide better living and get the job done

Steve: The only ways to stay relevant with consumer products are to talk with, listen to, and watch the consumer….period!


Smithers: Can you share with us one example of a product or a technology that has been a game changer for the home care market and that will probably remain current in the future?

Nancy: If you look in the past 30 years or so, I’d say the introduction of liquid detergents really changed the way people did their laundry in the U.S., especially when you look at liquids as the dominant product form on the marketplace today. It’s possible that we could see liquid laundry packets have that effect in the 21st century, but I think it’s still too early to tell.

 Steve: This is a toss-up for me but I would have to say that the energy efficiency designs currently begin implemented and offered to the US consumers for HE washers.  We have seen improved cleaning and energy savings in the form of less water and electricity.  


Smithers: What are you looking forward to hear at Cleaning Products US 2015?

Nancy: I’m really looking forward to the thought-provoking presentations on topics that are important to the work of the Institute. ACI is fortunate to represent so many industry leaders as well as innovators of new chemistries that are laying the groundwork for more sustainable cleaning products that can continue to enhance the well-being of individuals and families.

Steve: I am always very excited about attending the Cleaning Products Conference because of the range of topics and diversity of experiences and points of view that I encounter.   I have never been disappointed with the networking and sharing of ideas.