Gabey Goh
Apr 6, 2016

Urbanization changing SEA consumer preferences in global fight against grime: Nielsen

SINGAPORE – Rapid growth in Southeast Asia’s urban centres is creating new demand for fast, efficient and convenient household cleaning and laundry products, according to a new global survey by Nielsen.

Laundry is a daily task for more than a third of people in Southeast Asia, according to Nielsen
Laundry is a daily task for more than a third of people in Southeast Asia, according to Nielsen

The Nielsen report, examining home cleaning and laundry habits, highlights product efficacy and convenience as the most sought-after product attributes by consumers seeking to buy cleaning and laundry products.

Regan Leggett, Nielsen’s executive director of thought leadership and foresight for Southeast Asia, North Asia and Pacific, said the research firm sees major demographic and lifestyle changes in Southeast Asia, driven primarily by growing urbanization across the region.

“Nearly half the Southeast Asian population lives in urban centres, and these consumers are more time-strapped than ever and are increasingly adopting the ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle, but they still face the unavoidable task of cleaning and laundering,” he said. “They’re seeking products which can cut down on the amount of time they need to spend doing these chores.”

Wanted: Convenient cleanliness

Efficiency and value are at the top of consumers’ list of most important attributes in a home cleaning product.

Sixty percent of respondents in Southeast Asia say performance (it cleans well) is very important when selecting a household-cleaning product.

In addition, more than half (57 percent) say good price/value is very important. Previous experience and trust are also important for consumers when selecting a household-cleaning product.

Four in 10 global respondents (41 percent) say previous experience is very important when selecting household-cleaning products, while a little over a third (38 percent) say a trusted brand name is very important.

Product packaging rates among the secondary attributes that consumers look for. Three in 10 respondents (33 percent) say pack sizes that fit their family’s needs or packaging that is convenient to use or store (30 percent) are very important.

Leggett said that urbanization largely means smaller storage spaces, and as a result availability of a range of pack sizes, concentrates and multiuse/multifunction products is key.

“Mode of transport in Southeast Asia is also a key factor in determining pack design,” he added. “Relatively few consumers own a car, with many using public transport or a motorbike as their primary means of transport, creating demand for light and easy-to-transport products.”

When it comes to purchasing laundry detergent, consumers in Southeast Asia list performance as a top attribute when making a choice with 68 percent reporting that stain removals is the main attribute they seek in a laundry detergent.

More than half (56 percent) say they look for high-efficiency products (ie, products that require less water), and 54 percent say they’re looking for detergents they can use on multiple types of items.

Modern retail channels preferred

Modern retail channels are the preferred choice of store for purchasing cleaning products, even in Southeast Asia, where traditional trade still reigns for everyday shopping.

In Southeast Asia, 75 percent of respondents purchased household cleaning products from a large retail chain (such as a mass merchandiser or hypermarket) in the past 12 months.

Just 38 percent of respondents in the region purchased cleaning products from a small, family-owned shop during the past 12 months.

Traditional store preference is highest in developing countries such as Vietnam (58 percent), Indonesia (37 percent) and Thailand (36 percent), compared to fewer than one in 10 respondents in developed Asia Pacific countries such as Japan (8 percent), Australia (7 percent) and New Zealand (7 percent).

Digital retail channels are yet to gain any significant traction in Southeast Asia when it comes to purchasing household cleaning products. Just 16 percent of respondents have purchased household-cleaning supplies from an online retailer in the past 12 months, compared with 23 percent globally.

Nearly half of respondents in Southeast Asia (47 percent) say they clean every day, and 36 percent say they do laundry daily.

Although 37 percent of respondents say the female head of household does the majority of cleaning, men are sharing in the load with cleaning being a shared responsibility in 39 percent of Southeast Asian households. Just 10 percent of respondents say men do the majority of cleaning.

Nielsen found that responsibility for purchasing household cleaning and laundry products largely mirrors who is doing the cleaning, with even greater female influence.

More than half of respondents (53 percent) in Southeast Asia say the female head of household buys the majority of cleaning products; more than a quarter (29 percent) say it’s a shared responsibility and more than one in 10 (14 percent) say the male head of household is responsible for the majority of household cleaning and laundry product purchasing decisions.

“Traditionally, cleaning and laundry product marketing has been aimed toward women,” said Leggett. “However, given the relatively high level of shared responsibility for household chores in Southeast Asian households, marketers need to consider what this means for their strategy.”

The Nielsen Global Home-Care Survey polled more than 30,000 online respondents in 61 countries to understand cleaning and laundry behaviors and sentiments around the world.

The survey examined who’s cleaning, the tools they’re using and the benefits they’re looking for in home-care products. It further explored the underlying macroeconomic forces affecting the home-care industry, and offered insights into how to adapt to the changing environment by aligning offerings to consumer needs and desires.

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