Consumers are becoming more aware of the relationship between the chemicals they use to clean their homes and their health. It explains the continued increase in the use of natural cleansers, soaps and solvents in the American home, according to recent research.
“Consumers seek a healthy environment across all aspects of their lives,” said Jane Perrin, senior vice president and managing director for ACNielsen Global Services, which recently conducted a study examining global growth of household products.
Cleaners that focus on maintaining health and wellness by reducing germs and insects were most popular in 2005, according to the report. Sales of disinfectants rose 13%, and insect control products rose 5% globally.
The activity is just as strong in the United States. Consumers have heard about studies that show volatile organic compounds found in traditional chemical cleaners can trigger asthma attacks. And the Environmental Protection Agency has reported that the air in the average American home is two to five times more polluted than the air outside the home.
“Generally, we think about health as what we eat, and second is skin. We are just beginning to take care of the air in our homes,” said Jeffrey Hollender, president and chief executive officer of Seventh Generation, manufacturer of non-toxic cleaners and author of the book, “Naturally Clean.”
Hollender finds that most shoppers start buying environmentally friendly cleaners when they start having children. “You've already decided you're going to feed [the baby] organic food. It makes a huge amount of sense to clean that child's room with non-toxic cleaners,” he said.
Consumers' growing interest in less-toxic agents shows in the numbers. Sales of household cleaners and supplies jumped 16% to $115 million in natural supermarkets for the 52 weeks ending September 2006, according to SPINS, a San Francisco-based market research and consulting firm. Mostly, shoppers bought more non-toxic air fresheners — a 15% increase in sales in natural supermarkets, compared to a 10% increase for bath, kitchen and “other cleaners.”
It might be time for mainstream retailers to freshen up their aisles, too, and set aside some space for this growing category.