Summer holidays are a prime time for extra mess, so it should be a top priority to get your laundry range in order. Nikki Allen finds out how you can increase your sales.

Why invest in laundry?

Consumers run 4.4 billion washing loads a year, with the average household washing clothes up to five times a week.

Shoppers buy laundry products 14 times a year, creating an opportunity to give them a reason to visit you at least once a month.

“All those washes translate into cash, with laundry worth £111m in the convenience market,” says John Drake, Procter & Gamble head of convenience.

“The average shopper visits their local store 3.6 times a week, spending £10.90 per trip on the category.”

It’s not just core washing powder that offers opportunities to convenience retailers – 94% of shoppers also buy detergent and stain removers, while 71% buy fabric conditioner.

But while volume sales are rising by 6.1% in the sector, value growth has been slower. Retailers are also losing up to £40m a year in laundry sales due to poor availability and out-of-stock products.

Nick Widdowson, Partners for Growth merchandising & creative controller at Unilever, says shoppers want to see the brands they trust, so retailers should make sure their shelves are kept fully-stocked with the bestselling products.

“While some shoppers may switch brands if they can’t find what they’re looking for, ultimately, they will go elsewhere,” he explains.

Do it: Use your EPoS data to identify your bestselling lines.

Get the right core range

With so many products to choose from it’s easy to overload your laundry shoppers. You should focus on a tight core range that contains powders, capsules, conditioners, washing liquids, gels and stain treatments.

Drake says: “We have worked with retailers to help them simplify their laundry offering, focusing on lines across varying prices and making shopping the laundry category much simpler.”

Kent retailer Amit Patel, owner of Belvedere News, Food and Wine, follows this strategy in his store. “We want to give customers a choice, but not too much so that it becomes an inconvenience, so we stock one or two big brands and a discount brand for each household product,” he explains.

To get a clear range that meets shoppers’ needs, follow trends in the sector. Consumers are moving from dry formats like powders and dry tablets into formats such as liquids and liquitabs, for example.

“While powder detergent is still the biggest section of the convenience market, accounting for 35.3% of value sales, wet formats are driving growth in the main wash category, giving convenience retailers real opportunities,” says Widdowson.

You should also pay attention to the affluence of your shoppers. More affluent laundry consumers tend to buy skin friendly or premium fabric conditioners, while less affluent ones tend to go for powders.

Do it: Make sure you are stocking the bestselling powders, capsules, conditioners, washing liquids, gels and stain treatments.

The power of price-marks

For 33% of consumers, knowing a convenience store sells price-marked packs influences their decision to visit it.

“Consumers are looking for the best deal and, while they accept that they often pay a premium for the convenience of shopping locally, they are less inclined to do this on large items such as laundry,” says Widdowson.

Patel agrees. “Everything is driven by value for shoppers, so we stock PMPs in the laundry sector as much as we can. It’s why our Euroshopper brand goes so well,” he says.

Supporting the trend towards value, the own label laundry market is in growth of 6.9%. Cath McIlwham, Spar head of brand, says: “Own label is essential in the laundry category to offer consumers lower cost options.”

Offering a broad range of prices on a tight range of brands is the best way to approach the laundry category.

Drake says: “Retailers should stock lines like Ariel Pods and Liquid at the top end, through to Daz at the value end and Fairy Non Bio for buyers looking for sensitive detergents. This is what shoppers want and will bring value back into the category.”

Do it: Talk to your wholesaler or symbol group about introducing a range of own-label laundry products.

Retailer View

James Brundle“In my three stores, we have a laundry range that includes bestselling brands, as well as a few own-label products. This helps us target people who want big brands and those looking for value. Liquid formats are definitely growing more than dry powders.

“Overall, the laundry category works fairly well for us as an impulse or top-up area, as shoppers often come to us when they run out of the essentials.”

James Brundle, Spar, London and Kent