Downy Unstopables

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Millennials and Laundry Products

Some key decision-making factors among Canadian millennials when it comes to selecting laundry products include natural ingredients, label transparency, multifunctional and time-saving properties, and innovative, eco-friendly scents. A deep dive of these findings has been presented below.

1: Natural Ingredients and Label Transparency

  • According to a 2020 report by Euromonitor, sales of sustainable laundry care products in Canada have been growing due to their appeal among eco-friendly consumers. The report further notes that "consumers in Canada are becoming increasingly interested in green cleaning."
  • In today's society, many millennials are health conscious when it comes to their dietary habits, especially with regard to the ingredients in their food. A recent study found that millennials who avoid GMOs are also highly likely to base their purchase decisions surrounding laundry detergent on natural ingredients as well. In fact, the study found that millennials who actively avoid GMOs are also 4x more likely to look for natural ingredients when it comes to shopping for laundry detergent.
  • A recent study found that only 37.7% percent of Canadians feel GMO foods are safe to eat. When analyzed with regard to the data presented above, this may suggest that the vast majority of Canadians would likely prefer natural ingredients when it comes to laundry detergent as well, given the correlation between these two preferences as evidenced above.
  • According to Nielsen, "Sales of conventional products are declining, while sales of products that tout being simple, ‘clean,’ sustainable and free from artificial ingredients are on the rise. Millennials are leading the way with respect to buying products they believe are better for them, their families and the planet. They care much more about transparency and clean label than older generations do, and their spending prowess is growing.
  • According to Reuters, millennials' laundry detergent demands include environmentally sustainable products.
  • "Forbes reported on a survey of more than 2,000 consumers that found a staggering 94 percent of respondents said they are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency. They also said that when consumers switch to more transparent brands, 56 percent say they would stay loyal to that brand for life. Transparency was the number one factor for their loyalty, the survey found, with 78 percent of respondents saying they trust a brand more if it offers product transparency, even more so for millennial moms at 83 percent."

2: Multi-Functional and other Time-Saving Properties

  • According to a 2020 report by Euromoitor, multi-functional qualities are driving sales of laundry care in Canada. The report states that multi-functional properties have been gaining increasing importance among the Canadian consumer base, particularly because consumers are very busy and they are seeking easy and simple laundry care items to better align with this.
  • According to a report published by Reuters, millennials laundry detergent demands include products that help them save time.
  • Key players in the laundry market, such as P&G, Unilever, and Henkel have been rolling out various pre-measured and all-in-one offerings as a way to help entice millennial buyers who are looking to save time.

3: Innovative and Eco-Friendly Scents

  • According to a 2020 report by Euromonitor, innovative scents are a key driver of the Canadian laundry market.
  • According to Broc D. Martin, Senior Market Research & Insights Manager at Arylessence, brands are swiftly responding to millennial consumer demands for eco-positioned products "with messaging strategically reinforced by fragrance."
  • This means that millennials are seeking scents that are derived from environmentally safe formulations, such as Gain Botanicals, which is made of 65% plant-based ingredients.
  • According to Michelle Harper, VP of scent design at Arylessence, “There’s an aromatherapy attribute to eco products, as well. The pervasive fanaticism of consumers who are passionate about essential oils is witnessed across scented products in the marketplace. Essential oils and similar naturally derived compounds are a perceived gateway to mental and physical wellness; this purchasing driver is definitely here to stay. Furthermore, stories around how these fragrance ingredients are made and sourced such as organic claims and fair or ethical trade also play a strategic role in the broader eco narrative.”

Research Strategy

To conduct this research, our team began by trying to look for any available survey data showing the laundry detergent preferences and purchase drivers of Millennials in Canada. However, no such survey data was found to be publicly available, meaning available hard data related to this specific topic is severely limited. This lack of available information likely has to do with the highly niche nature of the desired information and the relatively small population of Canada. Despite this, we were able to research this topic from two different angles to determine which preferences exist at the intersection of millennials and Canadians. This information was obtained from available surveys, market reports, and insights from expert analysis.
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Millennials and Laundry Frequency

Millennials in Canada typically do their laundry once per week. This is true for college-aged millennials, working millennials, and millennial families. Some common laundry motivators among the cohort are the number of times they have re-worn the clothing, the quality of their laundry facilities, and whether the clothes are visibly dirty. A deep dive of these findings has been presented below.

Laundry Frequency Among Canadian Millennials

  • One study found that college students and young professionals do their laundry once per week on average. Families with kids also tend to do their laundry once per week on average and spend around 2-5 hours doing so.
  • On average, millennials spend between 5 minutes (men) and 17 minutes (women) per day doing laundry, according to BLS.
  • According to the LEIT Canada, the average amount of laundry done per household is around 8 loads of laundry per week.
  • "According to a recent Reuters story, millennials are doing their laundry less frequently than older generations."
  • 10% of Canadians say they wash their bedding once per month.

Laundry Motivators Among Canadian Millennials

1: Number of Times Clothing Has Been Worn

  • "60 percent of millennials would prefer to reuse their lightly-worn clothes instead of washing them again to save time and be environmentally sustainable."
  • One survey found that 39.3% of men and 54% of women wash their jeans after 1-2 wears, while 30.4% of men and 31.1% of women wait until after 3-6 wears. Only 7.2% of men and 2.5% of women wait until after 11-20 wears.
  • About one-third of Americans surveyed said they re-wear their gym clothes without washing them, which was also true for 37% of those between the ages of 25 and 34. The same was also true for 32% of those between the ages of 35 and 44, and 31% of those between the ages of 18 and 24.

2: Quality of Laundry Environment

  • "Roughly 45% of Canadians would enjoy doing laundry more if they had a nicer, newer laundry room, or if they had nicer, newer laundry appliances (39%). 48% wish they had an ultra-luxurious laundry room in their home, and some, 18%, even admit that they are envious of a friend or neighbor's laundry room."
  • In general, millennials appreciate experiences and this includes their laundry experience. This cohort wants well-equipped laundry rooms with energy-efficient and water-efficient machines.
  • "A laundry room is the most popular specialty room—defined as any room other than a bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen—among millennials according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The survey, What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 Edition), found 86% of millennials indicated a laundry was either desirable or essential/must-have."

3: Clothes Are Visibly Dirty

  • A survey of over 1,000 Canadians found that 26% only wash their pants/skirts/dresses after they have become visibly dirty, while 31% do the same for jeans.
  • In a thread on Reddit, millennials discussed their laundry habits. One millennial stated that when it comes to jeans and T-shirt, they "only clean [them] when they get visibly dirty", while another suggested that things only need to be washed once they get dirty or smelly.
  • On a side note, a number of the millennials in the Reddit thread noted above were suggesting only washing clothes when they were running low on clean clothes, so this might be another common laundry motivator among the cohort.
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Millennial Activities

In regard to physical activities that tend to generate unpleasant smells (e.g. musty, smelly, damp, sweaty), the following activities have been identified as the most favorite for Canadian millennials: cooking and eating, working out and physical fitness, and wilderness activities. Meanwhile, the following activities have been identified as their least favorite: biking, skiing, and foraging for food. The activity preferences of this cohort was determined by analyzing insights from surveys and industry experts to determine what a majority of the cohort report participating in or not participating in. A deep dive of these findings has been presented below.

Most Favorite Activities Among Canadian Millennials

1: Cooking and Eating

  • A survey of 750 Canadians found that 47% report cooking as a leisure activity they perform daily. Additionally, 26% said they dine out on a weekly basis.
  • According to a 2017 survey, "47% of millennials cook at home 5 or more times per week, compared with 55% of those aged 30-44."
  • 54% of Canadians surveyed reported food as one of their hobbies and interests.

2: Working Out and Physical Fitness

  • 76% of millennials surveyed found they work out at least once a week.
  • 40% of Canadian millennials say that improving their self-confidence motivates them work out, while 47% say their motivation is to improve their overall quality of life.
  • 25% of Canadian millennials say they make going to the gym more often a New Year's resolution.
  • Among Canadians overall, 20% say they workout on a weekly basis.
  • 38% of Canadians surveyed reported health and fitness as one of their hobbies and interests.

3: Wilderness Activities

  • 70% of Canadians surveyed said they participate in wilderness activities, and 41% said they do so on a regular basis.
  • Due to the country's vast number of lakes, fishing is one of the most popular hobbies in Canada.
  • Aside from fishing, hiking and backpacking is another favorite wilderness activity in Canada, with 44% of survey respondents saying they did so recently.

Least Favorite Activities Among Canadian Millennials

1: Mountain Biking/Riding Bicycles

  • Only 13% of Canadians surveyed said they go mountain biking, and it was among the lowest ranked outdoor activities according to survey results.
  • A 2017 study found that millennials are riding bikes less often than older generations, with 74% of millennials surveyed saying they had not ridden a bicycle recently. Only 2% of millennials bike to work on a regular basis.

2: Skiing

  • Only 13% of Canadians surveyed said they go cross-country skiing/snowshoeing, and it was among the lowest ranked outdoor activities according to survey results.
  • According to industry experts, millennials have not been taking to skiing as their older counterparts did. "Jim Powell, vice president of marketing at the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said this is a trend that ski resorts are seeing more and more every year. Millennials simply do not ski or snowboard as much as the baby boomers. 'Skiing is not a growing sport,' he said. 'We have a problem — the baby boomers are aging out. And they have been a big source of skier days.'"
  • "According to the National Ski Areas Association, without drastic changes, snow sports participation could decline 2.5% every year for all ski areas. The main reason for this decline is millennial participation."

3: Foraging for Food

  • Only 16% of Canadians surveyed said they go foraging for food, and it was among the lowest ranked outdoor activities according to survey results.
  • There doesn't appear to be any readily available data showing the percentage of millennials that forage for food, which likely indicates that this isn't a topic that is being widely discussed due to a general lack of interest and participation among the cohort.
  • This idea is further supported by other survey data showing that the majority of millennials generally lack survival skills. "Only a third of respondents knew how to naturally ignite a fire, and 44 percent had never been camping before. Moreover, half of the young adults surveyed were unable to tie a survival knot, less than a third had ever caught their own fish, and 40 percent of young people surveyed reported having never swum in open water."

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