laundry washing line pixabay

The average pack of own-label detergent has fallen by 24% to £3, while brands are up by 7.3% to £5.11

An £8.1m decline in laundry detergent sales doesn’t seem much to celebrate. But it depends who you talk to.

Firstly, it’s an improvement on last year, when The Grocer reported a £15.1m decline. Secondly, some lines are making substantial gains. Own label is £3.2m in the black, having seen volumes soar by 21.9%.

Brands, meanwhile, have lost £11.4m on unit sales down 9.4%. “Brands such as Persil have seen the growth accumulated in 2020 offset by staggering declines,” notes NielsenIQ senior client manager Nicoleta Cierghi.

Growth was likely impacted by the closure of schools and offices in the first half of the year, which led to consumers washing clothes less, she suggests.

Plus, the collective tightening of the nation’s purse strings has worked against brands. The average pack of own-label detergent has fallen by 24% to £3, while brands are up by 7.3% to £5.11.

Ocado head of own brand & technical compliance Rachel Cox-Reynolds backs up that supposition. Laundry detergents have been one of the “most popular” lines in its new own-label household range, she says. The range has performed “really well” because it offers “value for money but at a high quality that is reflective of the Ocado brand”.

Still, some detergent brands have managed to buck the downward trend. Take Fairy, with its average pack price of £6.15. It’s grown volumes by 2.9%, adding £10.7m in the process.

Other, smaller laundry detergent brands have also grown value. These have largely been “sensitive propositions and brands with disinfectant properties”, says Cierghi, while “interest for Earth-friendly products continues”. This can be seen in the value gains for Ecover (6%), Surcare (5.1%) and Dettol (1.4%).

Branded fabric conditioners, meanwhile, have fared better overall, growing by 3% in value while own label fell by the same amount. However, P&G is “entirely responsible for the growth experienced” in branded conditioning, says Cierghi, pointing to Lenor’s extra £25.5m.

She highlights P&G’s “exceptional above the line marketing campaigns” and “continuous innovation”, such as Lenor’s Outdoorable range (see Top Launch, below).

Not that innovation guarantees success. After all, Comfort experienced a 10.6% value decline despite an eco-friendly overhaul of its Ultimate Care range earlier this year, which saw it cut down on plastic and offer a more concentrated formulation designed to help clothes last longer.

Febreze has also seen a dip in its value, despite an Instagram push from none other than Khloe Kardashian at the end of 2020.

Top launch 2021

Lenor Outdoorable | P&G


Unpredictable weather means drying clothes outdoors can be a gamble. Hence Lenor Outdoorable, an “ultra concentrated” fabric conditioner that promises “the freshness of drying outside, even when drying inside”. Packed in 100% recycled plastic, it comes in Spring Awakening, Pink Blossom and Summer Breeze (rsps: £3/504ml & £5/840ml). Unveiled in February, it was followed in July by news of a sustainable paper bottle for Lenor, which is set to be trialled in western Europe next year. 

The Grocer’s Top Products Survey 2021: who’s up, who’s down – and our overview of the key trends