There is no escaping the fact that home care products languish towards the bottom of the glamour stakes when it comes to fast moving consumer goods, but while laundry care manufacturers can at least up the luxury by adding softening properties and air care players can create aspirational lifestyle fragrances, toilet care manufacturers have a steeper hill to climb when looking for innovations with which to add value.
Adding to these difficulties, toilet care products still compete indirectly with inexpensive products such as chlorine bleach and scouring agents. Given this lack of major innovation and the functional nature of the category, consumer interest in developed markets the world over is low. Toilet care needs a fresh approach.
A step toward making a nasty task nicer
When looking for possible areas of innovation, toilet cleaning systems would seem to offer the most potential, and it is within this category that SC Johnson has made an attempt to add value. The manufacturer’s Scrubbing Bubbles brand has launched a new toilet cleaning system which, while remaining a far cry from glamorous, promises to make an unpleasant task a little easier.
The Scrubbing Bubbles One Step Toilet Bowl Cleaner is a foot-activated, hands-free toilet cleaner which, according to the manufacturer, will keep the toilet bowl clean for 30 days. The nationwide launch comes after the product was given a trial run and sold online only during 2010. Clearly, there must have been enough interest for the manufacturer to decide upon a full-scale launch.
Previous innovation proved a hit
The launch of the Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaning system comes after a strong year for the brand in the US. In 2010, SC Johnson re-launched its Glade Bowl Freshener Plus Cleaner rim liquid as Scrubbing Bubbles Continuous Clean 3-in-1. The re-branding allowed the company’s toilet care portfolio to benefit from the equity of the Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner brand. After the re-branding the brand launched Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel. To use, a gel disc is stamped inside the toilet bowl with a long applicator.
This gel disc remains in the bowl for up to a week, freshening and cleaning the toilet with each flush. The product proved very popular with consumers as it allows them to clean with minimal effort and the applicator means they never come close to touching the toilet.
While toilet care overall saw a decline of 5% in value terms across the US in 2010, rim liquids witnessed a 3% increase, making it the only toilet care category to see growth. This success has been largely based on the strong performance of Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel, which also served to increase SC Johnson’s and the brand’s share of the toilet care market.
Does it all come down to cost?
While SC Johnson will of course be hoping that its latest launch replicates the success of its Toilet Cleaning Gel, the higher unit price of the system may prove prohibitive. Although the added convenience of the toilet discs served to pique consumer interest, the success of Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel was also in part due to price.
Continued recessionary conditions mean that American consumers are cutting back across the board and toilet care products are no exception.
In fact, despite the functional nature of the category, consumers tend to perceive toilet care products as a luxury purchase that can be sacrificed during difficult times. Given this, the initial start-up price of SC Johnson’s latest launch may be too much to ask in the short term, particularly when the product’s credentials remain unproven to consumers.
Consumers will pay more for convenience
However, the relatively high initial cost of the product does not mean that the innovation is doomed to failure. American consumers, particularly those who lead increasingly time-pressed lives, place a high value on convenience and are often willing to pay more for products that make household cleaning that little bit easier.
Even in the difficult economic climate of 2010, the home care products which prospered and drove category growth were those which capitalised on consumer demand for convenience, with pre-measured single dose formats such as Purex’s 3-in-1 laundry sheet being a prime example.