Laundry isn’t a category that anyone wants to spend too much of their hard-earned cash on.
But with customers busier, more budget-conscious and environmentally aware than ever, retailers know they have to up their laundry category management game. Alex Yau reports
Raj Aggarwal – Spar Wigston, Leicester
Raj worked with Procter & Gamble in October to make the most of his laundry range across his two Spar stores in Sheffield and Leicester. The sales data in the period provided Raj with information on his best-selling lines.
Ramsey Hasavalla – Premier Speke, Liverpool
Ramsey opened his 2,100sq ft Premier last year. More than 80% of his footfall comes from families living in the area, making laundry an important category. His previous 800sq ft store was unable to have the same 4m laundry bay his new store boasts.
Sunita Kanji – Family Shopper, Bolton
Range is important for Sunita because of her varied customer base. Her footfall is a mix of pensioners living in a care home for the elderly across the road along with unemployed and low-earning younger locals.
What currently works best for you?
RA More than 70% of laundry products in my two stores are pricemarked. Customers are mostly drawn to the £1.99 price.
They don’t have much disposable income, but they still want big brands such as Ariel and Bold because they trust them. Pricemarking means they can rely on us to offer the same price as anywhere else.
SK Having everything pricemarked definitely helps as we have a mix of customers. They’re less bothered about brand and are more concerned if a laundry product offers them value for money. They want to get the most out of the money they spend.
RH All my laundry products are pricemarked. The majority of my customers are busy families, so laundry is obviously an important category for them. The £1 pricemark means they instantly know they’re getting a great deal and it can often help drive basket spend as an impulse buy.
There are so many laundry products on the market. How do you ensure customers don’t get confused or intimidated?
RA Pricemarking again plays an important role here. Seeing a big red circle on a product instantly tells customers how much the specific laundry product is. It also helps separate the different brands. A product with a pricemark on it instantly stands out in a sea of similar products.
RH I keep the 7.2kg boxes of Bold laundry detergent on the top shelf at eye-line level. Our customers want to spend their money on more interesting things so it’s important that what they buy lasts.
Products with a longer life are definitely popular. We instantly sell out in a day when we have them on promotion at £10.99.
SK We have a promotional bay near the till which helps drive sales. It instantly helps the category stand out and I find having them near other household goods such as washing up liquid encourages shoppers to make those impulse buys.
What are the best ways to work with your suppliers?
RA Managing laundry successfully needs to be category-led. When we first started working Procter & Gamble (P&G), they wanted to take certain products out, like our £1.99 pricemarked bottles of Surf. We analysed data over a month and found they were our bestsellers. A product might perform better for you than it does nationally.
RH I always try to get the best deals with Booker because promotions work well for us. Bigger packs priced at £10.99 on promotion, for example, are good and £1 promotions work really well for us too. Shoppers will often buy more Lenor when it’s on promotion at £1 and sales can often treble as a result.
SK I wish suppliers would start pushing tried and tested products more than the new ones they keep bringing out. Detergents and powders are most popular and shoppers aren’t too concerned about what new and wonderful things they can do.
What about your customers? Are certain products more popular with individual shoppers?
RA I find the older generation prefers powders, while younger shoppers go for liquids and capsules. It’s just what they’ve been used to growing up. It obviously depends on where you live, but taking the age of your customers into consideration is important when stocking laundry products.
RH I make my store a destination for weekly shopping, which definitely comes into consideration when I merchandise. I drive those impulse buys. For example, the laundry will be placed near the back-to-school range because it tempts parents to pick up some soap powder when they’re shopping for their children.
Advice from suppliers
Are there any new product developments retailers should be considering?
Dan Jalalpour – fabric care senior brand manager, Procter & Gamble
While washing powders remain an important sub-segment of the laundry detergent category, there is an ever-growing demand among consumers for wet formats.
More than two thirds of shoppers now reach for liquitabs, gels and liquid detergents, and liquitabs recently became the biggest segment of the grocery market.
What’s currently driving growth in the category?
Surf brand manager, Unilever
Capsules are currently driving the laundry category as consumers favour quick, easy-to-use and shelf-efficient products and our new offering is set to tap into this. Our new Surf Dual capsules will be supported by a £4m media campaign to tap into the growing demand for convenient, single-dose laundry solutions.
Are there any particular fragrances retailers should be stocking?
Head of Marketing, Astonish
“Household cleaning is a competitive category dominated by strong brands that deliver.” We’ve created a range of fragrances we believe to be on-trend: Cotton Breeze, Orchard Blossom and Cotton Fresh.
They have been designed to bring freshness back into hard-to-launder items such as carpets and curtains and neutralise unpleasant odours.
How can I better cater for customers with sensitive skin?
EU fragrance manager, Ecover
Many shoppers have sensitive skin. It’s important to stock a product which isn’t damaging to their overall health. Consider stoking one which has been tested by a third party and won’t be guaranteed to cause irritation to these customers.
Our Ecover Zero range is fragrance free, minimising the possibility of damage to sensitive skin.