ATTRACTING LAUNDRY CONSUMERS to traditional supermarkets is crucial at a time when concentrated formulas and increased competition have more retail formats vying for fewer trips.
Wal-Mart and Target are the usual suspects, but even they are challenged by new retailers of laundry detergent like drug stores CVS and Walgreens, Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement. Even Best Buy merchandises HE soap alongside its high-efficiency washing machines.
“If a guest sees a great deal elsewhere they'll buy it and then we've lost that customer for at least a month,” noted Kris Burdis, business manager for United Supermarkets.
Of the three major channels tracked by Chicago-based Mintel, supermarkets hold 40% share of the category, drug 5% and “other” retailers including mass merchandisers, club stores and others, 55%. Sales in “other” retailers have increased 6% from 2005 to 2010 thanks to heavily promoted national brands.
Hiller's Markets is one supermarket that's feeling the strain. “The category for us has always been a challenge because they're offering bundle sizing and very large packaging at an ultra-competitive price,” said Stephen Brooks, assistant grocery buyer, of the competition.
To set its selection apart, Hiller's regularly features a couple of locally produced laundry detergents like Purity, made in Franklin, Mich.
“Made in Michigan is very big for us,” he said.
So big in fact that Hiller's hosts Made in Michigan food fairs where the makers of these detergents share their story with shoppers. “It gives them an added boost,” noted Brooks.