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Home Care Wipes in Brazil: Understanding Culture to Achieve Growth

1/11/2022
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The pandemic has led to the launch of new product formats in Brazil, including aerosol home care disinfectants and all purpose cleaning wipes. The latter experienced dynamic value growth in 2020, supported by new market entrants and a growing presence on retailers’ shelves. Industry players that have managed to launch new products and benefit from this development include Unilever with its Cif and Omo brands, Química Amparo with Ypê, and Reckitt Benckiser with Lysol. This recent development is evidence of growing demand for convenient hygiene solutions amongst Brazilian consumers.

According to Euromonitor International’s overall figures, in 2021 all purpose cleaning wipes reached per capita usage of 0.31 sheets. However, while consumption has grown, it remains at a comparatively low level. To put this into perspective, per capita consumption in Chile increased from 14 to 29 sheets between 2019 and 2021, moving it closer to the average per person consumption rate in the US (32 sheets). In order to make sense of this difference in demand, it is essential to closely analyse the unique challenges that this category faces in Brazil. While Brazil is commonly highlighted as a market carrying significant potential for growth based on demographic factors, there are cultural barriers and deeply ingrained cleaning habits amongst local consumers standing in the way of broader category adoption.

Pandemic challenges traditional cleaning routines

When cleaning floors, balconies, windows and bathrooms, Brazilians often use water as a base in conjunction with an appropriate product, with home care disinfectants and bleach being the preferred options. Traditionally, Brazilians are unfamiliar with the concept of “dry cleaning”, which is widely perceived as being less efficient. Unlike markets in Western Europe and North America, where consumers value all purpose cleaning wipes as a convenient alternative to more traditional cleaning methods, doubts over efficacy have so far limited the consumer appeal of this format in Brazil.

However, the pandemic has created new opportunities for such products as it placed an increased burden on many consumers’ lives. Prolonged periods of home seclusion, remote working, children's indoor schooling and entertainment resulted in increased demand for convenience and products that provide consumers with relief during a challenging period. All purpose cleaning wipes have enhanced the routines of an increasing number of families, in addition to single and young consumers, who increasingly seek ways to remove the inconvenience of cleaning. While practicality is a strong driver in favour of this category’s growth, Brazilian perceptions of cleanliness is clearly a notable challenge.

Greater education regarding efficacy needed to drive up demand for all purpose cleaning wipes

Foaming is another important attribute for Brazilian consumers in terms of perceived product performance and efficacy. In consumers’ minds, foam cleaners and disinfectants – especially those applied to surfaces – provide a superior cleaning performance compared to their non-foaming equivalents, which are widely regarded as ineffective. While consumers value products that offer a more convenient way of cleaning, perceived cleaning efficacy continues to take precedence for Brazilians when making a purchasing decision. This constitutes an additional obstacle to the broader penetration of all purpose cleaning wipes in the country.

Traditional use of domestic help remains considerable barrier to convenient home care solutions

A third and equally important factor that continues to influence consumers’ cleaning routines is the fact that more affluent Brazilian households typically rely on domestic help for cleaning and other chores on a weekly, daily or even bi-weekly basis. Domestic helpers tend to be the decision makers in terms of purchasing related cleaning products. Due to their demographic profile, they usually rely on more traditional cleaning products and are lacking in knowledge regarding formats such as all purpose cleaning wipes as an alternative to standard surface care. In addition, consumers who use domestic services lack the incentive to invest in a comparatively more expensive product for the sake of added convenience alone, when they can rely on their domestic workers to accomplish tasks using traditional methods.

However, labour legislation has evolved due to the Labor Reform in 2017, which resulted in an increase in costs associated with domestic services. This is expected to lead to a decline in the number of Brazilian households accessing domestic help. Households that are transitioning from domestic help to having to take on cleaning chores themselves are more likely to prioritise convenience over other factors when purchasing surface care. While domestic workers are still commonplace, this recent development is set to support an uptake in demand for all purpose cleaning wipes in the market.

Economic uncertainty presents barrier to stronger uptake in the shorter term

Another factor influencing demand for all purpose cleaning wipes is the current economic climate in the country. Currency devaluation and rising unemployment have led to reduced purchasing power of Brazilian consumers. Given the relatively high unit price of all purpose cleaning wipes compared to other surface care options, even consumers who are curious to experiment with this novel product type are discouraged by its lack of affordability. In a period of great economic uncertainty, using cloth in conjunction with home care disinfectants and other surface care products such as multi-purpose cleaners or kitchen cleaners, has proven popular amongst consumers as it provides them with a more affordable alternative to disposable wipes. Nevertheless, experience shows that over time, the introduction of new products results in more efficient sourcing of raw materials and a reduction of manufacturing costs in line with greater competition.

Stronger potential depending on more competitive prices and consumer education

The example of all purpose cleaning wipes in Brazil illustrates that the growth potential of a category does not entirely depend on characteristics such as territorial size, population and population growth. There are many unquantifiable cultural factors deeply ingrained in a society having an effect on consumption. The increase in hygiene awareness during the pandemic has led to growth in consumer demand for cleaning and disinfection. This has mostly benefited traditional cleaning products. However, there is an opportunity for all purpose cleaning wipes to also profit from this pandemic-induced re-engagement with hygiene. The elevated importance of hygiene in conjunction with an ongoing decline in domestic services provides a fertile ground for home care wipes to gain momentum.

While stronger potential is predicted, product pricing and a lack of awareness amongst Brazilian consumers remain the biggest barriers to broader adoption. If brands intend to expand the presence of all purpose cleaning wipes, it will be crucial to introduce lower price points, to close the price gap to more traditional product formats and in turn, appeal to consumers who seek convenience in their daily routines. Manufacturers are further advised to launch multi-channel advertisement campaigns, including promotional activity, in order to educate Brazilian consumers on the benefits of home care wipes if they want to tap into the existing growth potential. In this context, the focus should be on convenience and cleaning performance. Furthermore, it will be imperative for brands to focus on realistic usage occasions, such as cleaning or disinfecting countertops prior to meal preparation.

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