The Impact on Home Care of Water Scarcity: Low Water Products and Appliances

October 2018

Water scarcity is rising in strategic importance to the Consumer Appliances, Home Care and Apparel industries. This affects regions at a crisis level now, with a long-term growing impact on consumer psychology and key buying priorities. Water is an opportunity for brands to differentiate, positively impact consumer quality of life, and help fulfil a duty of care around a crisis. This topic affects the high growth emerging markets now - but long term, every market is impacted by scarcity.

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Toilets take 36% of total home water use

Toilets have been dependent on a large volume of water to work; particularly in a crisis, if users realise one flush could use 40% of their daily allocation the pressure on behaviour is dramatic. There is a growing market for products masking odours from delaying a urine-only flush, and there is a hole so far for cleaning/maintenance products aimed at low water domestic toilets. Low water facilities remain low penetration, and if emerging markets use the same inefficient toilets as deployed in US/Europe today, their water demands on treated mains water will get worse, not better.

Showering and bathing takes 30% of total home water use

Recycling showers double the saving from moving from bathing to normal showers. Penetration remains low for all low water applications. On the additive side, the trend is towards convenience-and style-orientated low water hair and body products. There is some stigma to overcome within this area, but the standards of personal hygiene needed socially shift strongly in a crisis. Low water facilities are not strongly penetrated.

Laundry takes 21% of total home water use

Macro objectives involve extending the use-life of garments and increasing appliance penetration to impact total water. “One wash” superior performance and reduced rinse water using dispersant ingredients are the main water-saving claims inside existing formats. There are potential future game-changing technologies (HydroFinity in the home and Electrolux’s polymer patent). “Refresh” has value to deliver in this space.

Dishwashing takes 7% of total home water use

Dishwashers are less adopted, seen as a luxury labour-saving appliance with usage misconceptions (a belief handwash is more efficient). Penetration and education remain macro considerations. There are repeat wash performance concerns lingering after the post-phosphate reformulation; the impact of rewash is greater than any gains from promoting more efficient appliances. 



What This Report Series is All About

How this report fits into the overall picture for Water Scarcity
Key findings for low water products and appliances sold today

What this Report Series is all About

Report 2 looks at products and appliances addressing water scarcity
Snapshot of topics in report 2 : “low water products and appliances”
Report 1 focuses on macro aspects creating water scarcity today
A snapshot of topics in report 1: conservation and new sources
A water scarcity spotlight: HydroFinity’s polymer saves 80% water
A water scarcity spotlight: the Cape Town “Day Zero” case study
If you have already examined other reports in the water series…
The wettest place on earth is also one of the most water scarce
Water can be the great peace maker and equaliser
A water treaty (1996) normalised relations between India and Bangladesh
However, water is intrinsically linked to massive levels of inequality
There is a major “water wealth” disparity in types of problem felt
The UN’s development goals are heavily reliant on water equality
Water scarcity by region and the current “hot spots” for shortages
Climate change is increasing the frequency of floods and shortages
We see this in knock-on economic impacts from crises over time
UN precipitation predictions are that scarce regions will get worse
Economically created water scarcity adds to the problem
Water is breaking into the agenda for governments and business
Water scarcity crises are also driving greater public awareness
Abundant water, food and economic progress are inter-connected
Cost of water redistribution remains one of the key barriers
Water is buried inside many of the things we import and wear
Another country’s water is also hidden inside many imported foods
Crazy as it might sound, embedded water is even inside water
Major exporters of products with embedded water are running dry
Water scarcity grows in key food and cotton exporting countries
Water stress increases when embedded exporters cut back supply
UK is looking at 25% of its food supply with extreme cost increases
Water conflict and resource jealousy exists within everyday society
The role of water in economic development and standard of living
Some key statistics: water withdrawn, who is using it, to what end
Conclusions include a water withdrawal link to income and BMI
A sign of trouble is large withdrawal and farms taking 60% or more
Countries withdrawing around 7% or more self-harm on biodiversity
Our understanding of the full embedded water “cost” is improving
New underground scanning technology illuminates aquifer issues
Urbanisation creates contradictions for water scarcity
Cities have better infrastructure but also larger thirstier populations
It would be a mistake to think this will not affect us all eventually
Water drives three psychologies in a person and community

Typical Uses of Water in the Home

If saving water at home, some activities stand out as key targets
Context: normal water use, versus efficient use, versus a crisis
Water savings to be made within home care can vary by region
US: developed market transitioning to water “compromise”
China: emerging market living between “compromise” and “crisis”
UK: water-affluent nation with a complacent “abundance” mindset
South Africa reveals the scale of challenge for Capetonians in 2018
This report is about “compromise”; Cape Town’s spotlight “crisis”

Low Water Laundry Solutions

The laundry water “footprint” and where it is being deployed
Where the water savings are to be found in the laundry process
Almost 80% of laundry water use is in rinsing action
A “stand out” realisation needed is the embedded water in clothing
The altruistic requirement: this saving typically benefits “others”
A side comment before the detail; washer dryers can waste water

Low Water Laundry Solutions: Embedded Water in Apparel

The coming cotton crisis: an early fibre casualty of water scarcity
A drop in cotton use is a good thing overall for water and ecology
This does have major implications for laundry wash performance
Portion saved of total deployed water by doubling the life of a t-shirt
For context of scale of impact in water-saving laundry solutions
The law of unintended consequences strikes again
The extreme edge of the fabric story is “don’t wash me” denim

Low Water Laundry Solutions: Escaping Handwashing (Automation)

The big local water saving in laundry is from appliance penetration
At top-line, possession has been increasing but is now plateauing
Not all washing machines are equally helpful at saving water
Income hierarchy and a related progression of laundry technology
Emerging business models can push appliance use penetration
Services: out-of-home doorstep laundry continues to spread
Subsidised: the economics leading to additive subscription models
Subsidised: this gets over the initial up-front cost for the appliance
Miele experiment with “Blue Horizon” and merged revenue streams
Shared economy: more smartphones than washing machines
Shared economy: with a focus on developed markets
Shared economy: this is more interesting as a C2C platform
Shared economy: picking up and dropping off is a security concern
Shared economy: driving additive brands into selling appliances?
Communal laundry: accelerating the movement into automation
These efforts include Procter & Gamble’s wash house project
Unilever’s community hygiene centre and laundry services in India

Low Water Laundry Solutions: One Wash and One Rinse Solutions

The water-saving benefits of only washing once
Boosting results where we cannot take “one wash” for granted
The black market and protecting “one wash” performance reputations
Particularly in handwashing, a “one rinse” claim saves a lot of water
Foam dispersant is a stand-alone item or integrated into additives
Sunlight SmartFoam has a prominent “half the water” rinsing story
There are solutions both for appliance washing and handwashing
Appliance brands are also making use of polymers for “one rinse”

Low Water Laundry Solutions: Bigger is Better

Water is a long-term topic in appliance research and development
Super capacity washing appliances are more water efficient
This “bigger is better” falls over if bringing in top loaders
Top loaders can be bigger, yes, but they are also far more thirsty

Low Water Laundry Solutions: Refreshing Instead of Washing

Washing too often leads to shrinkage and garment shape changes
A fast way to turn favourites into rags is bleach over-exposure
If “refreshing” avoids one in five washes, 20% of all resources are saved
Refresh appliances try to do a “good enough” job to wear it again
Tersa Steam: a “naturals” wall-mounted upgrade versus Swash
Tersa Steam: we are sceptical but hope to be proven wrong
Fabric fresheners and scent boosters point to a rising refresh appeal
Trust is an issue; critical thresholds all solutions need to exceed

Low Water Dishwashing

The dishwashing water “footprint” and where it is being deployed
Water savings focus on avoiding rewash and appliance penetration
Dishwashers struggle to penetrate regions in need of water savings
Avoiding the need to rewash and the impact of losing phosphates
Incremental gains from competition between appliance brands
Recycling rinse water: genius or unacceptably gross…or is it both?

Low Water Toilet Care

The toilet water “footprint” and where it is being deployed
Water savings focus on modern toilets (including dual flush)
Dual flush saves about 30% of the water used in toilets
After removing gravity differentials we previously added more water
Formats with larger height difference tend to be water efficient
Toilet care is focused today on rising sales from liquids/foams
Small-scale issues from low water toilets (in the home)
Larger issues from low water toilets (trying to get outside the home)
There are crisis products geared around a change in toilet habits

Conclusions for This Report

The focus is on “compromise”, but there is a duty to also help “crisis”
We need to get better at reacting to water psychology shifts
Better data declarations are going to be a standard on packaging
Water use in the home - averages across the world
Water saving in the toilet care category (36% of use)
Toilets need to be available to all; but they also need to be efficient
Water saving in the laundry category (21% of use)
Innovation teams need to keep working on making “refresh” viable
Water saving in the dishwashing category (7% of use)
A spotlight report in this series examines the psychology of “crisis”
A spotlight report in this series examines HydroFinity (formerly Xeros )


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