24 January 2005 00:01 [Source: ICB Americas]
Innovation in the home and fabric care market is being driven by a variety of factors, including consumer demand for multi-functionality, convenience, greater disinfecting properties and a more pleasing olefactory experience. Also, changes in regulations, such as the European Detergent Regulation, set to take effect this October, are further pushing product development for biogradable and environmentally friendly products.
“Sales growth will be driven by products that are convenient to use, offer pleasing scents, have antibacterial and disinfecting properties, and are perceived to be environmentally friendly,” says Lenka Contreras, vice president, consumer products, with Kline and Company, a Little Falls, N.J.-based consultancy. “Multifunctional benefits and fragrance offerings remain key to maintain share,” says Ms. Contreras. “Consumers expect a cleaning product to offer protection, whether it is extended germ killing on hard surfaces or fabric protection in laundry care.”
The push to multi-functionality not only addresses consumer demand, but is also an important vehicle for product differentiation, especially in an environment of higher raw material costs. “Some manufacturers are working to differentiate their detergent and cleaning products by adding new capabilities or developing new, smarter formulations that provide multiple benefits to offset higher per-pound costs,” says Tony Latella, business director, consumer specialties, in the performance chemicals group at BASF. “In general, consumers could see more multiple use products and new performance attributes.” Others agree. “It is a case of doing more with less,” says Herman Mihalich, home care vice president with the Rhodia Home, Personal Care and Industrial Ingredients enterprise.
The introduction of a new Tide Product in 2004 underscores the multi-functional theme in home and fabric care. “In laundry detergents, the introduction of Tide with Downy in 2004 was a good example,” explains David Del Guercio, business director, textile care, Nafta at Degussa. “It is a two-in-one product, which offers both cleaning and care,” he says. “It also reflects the consumer’s growing interest in fragrancing as the product was introduced with three scent formulations.”
Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) launched “Tide with a touch of Downy” in August as part of the company’s strategy for innovation in home and fabric care. “We tested more than 125 Tide product ideas with consumers, and the concept of Tide with a touch of Downy received the highest response,” says Julie Woffington, Tide Brand Manager. “This introduction is representative of a long line of consumer-drive innovations from Tide that take advantage of a new technology to leave a touch of Downy softness on fabrics.” P&G says it identified an unmet need of consumers who want clean and soft laundry, but for various reasons were either unwilling to add liquid fabric softener or were inconsistently adding it because they simply forget. Tide with a touch of Downy combines Tide detergent with a new Downy formula called “Through Wash,” which adds softness and freshness that starts in the wash and continues through the rinse cycle. The product is available in both liquid and powder form in three scents: “April Fresh,” “Clean Breeze,” and “Soft Ocean Mist.”
The three-scent formulation is also reflective of a growing interest in custom fragrancing. “The scenting of the home and the use of aromatherapy systems in home care, also known as ‘air care,’ is an important trend,” says Degussa’s Mr. Del Guercio. “We’ve seen this trend in the past with dishwashing liquids, and now in laundry detergents and fabric softeners.” Degussa is currently developing fragrance-enhancing technology for use in textile care products, which it plans to roll out in the late first quarter or early second quarter of this year.
International Flavors and Fragrances is said to have developed a new generation of encapsulation technology that analysts expect will be launched in powder detergents and softeners in 2005 and 2006 for the US and European markets. “IFF is currently testing the technology with two leading detergent manufacturers,” says one analyst. “The company has production capabilities for the new product line both in the US and Europe.” The technology is based a new-generation encapsulation technology to be incorporated into food packaging as well.
Reflecting the trend toward increased use of natural ingredients, Degussa is launching an avocado oil-based emulsion to be used in surfacer polishes. “The product Tego Polish Additiv WE 50 is a preformulated emulsion that can be used in sprays or in polishing wipes,” says Janet Kosiek, marketing manager, personal and home care, Nafta, at Degussa.
Degussa launched also launched a product for the hard-surface cleaner market last year: Tegotop 105, which uses nanotechnology to create a “Lotus Effect,” in hard-surface cleaning. “Nanostructures create a self-cleaning effect and repel water and dirt,” explains Degussa’s Ms. Kosiek. This property is so named because the leaf of the lotus plant has a highly hydrophobic surface, and as result, water and particulates do not adhere to the surface of the leaf. “The surface not only gets cleaned, it stays cleaner longer and actually repels dirt,” she says.
Another product launched by Degussa last year for the hard-surface cleaning market is Rewopol WP 35, a glass-cleaning concentrate with a low alcohol content, which can be used in sprays or in cleaning wipes.
Other producers also point to the value in the growing cleaning-wipes market. “The disposable ‘wipes’ category continues to grow, and this is good for us, as it’s another opportunity to incorporate our very broad product portfolio and offer manufacturers access to our innovative wetting agents, chelates and polymers as well as specialty chemicals that deposit more effectively on surfaces,” says BASF’s Mr. Latello.
“Wipes remain the format for the greatest potential for growth with new entries in the highly segmented household cleaners market,” adds Kline’s Ms. Contreras. US sales of cleaning wipes (top 20 brands) increased 39.6 percent in 2004 to $179 million, based on sales to supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart), according to Information Resources Inc. Clorox is the leading producer, with a 48.4 percent market share, followed by Reckitt Benckiser (22.2 percent) and Procter & Gamble Company (19.7 percent).
Aside from seeking convenience in new product forms such as wipes, consumers are seeking improved performance in traditional properties such as stain removal, particularly as the fiber mix continues to change. “We are carefully watching the growing share of the synthetic fiber market, such as nylon and polyester, over cotton,” says Rhodia’s Mr. Mihalich. “New athletic wear, such as Nike Dry Fit, has increased the penetration of synthetic fibers, which in turn creates opportunities for stain removal products. There is a specific challenge to remove stains from polyester.” In response, Rhodia is adding offerings to its Repel-O-Tex line, a product family of soil-release polymers.
Other producers point to the value in innovation. “We focus resources and developmental efforts on accurately defined core competencies such as crystal growth control in various media or wetting and foam control,” says BASF’s Mr. Latella. “Applying this knowledge in joint and close cooperation with our customers, who know their markets best, has been a key to success.”
One recent example is melamine foam, which works as a result of the composition of the polymer and through the proprietary manufacturing process of the foam. “This foam has application for P&G, but it also can be used in other areas such as sound insulation,” says Mr. Latella.
BASF is also developing low-foaming surfactants with enhanced fat emulsification power for three-in-one applications and dirt repellent products on the basis of nanotechnology. One example is a superhydrophobic product under the Mincor trade name, and another example is the hydrophilization of a surface through addition of a new polymer that prevents spotting from water hardness.
In another innovation move, BASF will introduce a new group of surfactants to the North American market: Lutensol XL and Lutensol XP for use as all-purpose cleaners, degreasers, floor cleaners and hand dishwashing detergents. The company is targeting them as replacements for C9 to C11 alcohol ethoxylates. “Although they are short-chain alcohol ethoxylates with superior, highly dynamic wetting action, their high emulsifying power is comparable to that of surfactants based on longer-chain alcohols,” says BASF’s Mr. Latella. “This makes them a good alternative to C12-C14 alcohol ethoxylates and alkylphenol ethoxylates.”
BASF also sees opportunity for biodegradable surfactants. The role of biodegradable surfactants will continue to grow,” says Mr. Latella. “One example is the European Detergent Regulation (EDR) coming into effect in October 2005. The EDR lays out biodegradability requirements for surfactants used in detergents. “While the regulation has a direct impact on surfactants used in European detergents, other regions may also be affected through the growing trend to harmonize detergent formulas globally,” adds Mr. Latella.
Low-phosphate requirements are driving innovation in other detergent products. “Regulations, particularly with respect to phosphate use in both laundry and dishwashing detergents, will continue to drive those markets to alternatives,” says Mr. Latella. “Specifically, in anticipation of possible requirements for low-phosphate content in auto-dish detergents, particularly in the European market segment, BASF’s Sokalan CP42 polymer was developed to deliver scale-inhibition and anti-filming properties relative to conventional polycarboxylates,” he says. When stronger sequestration is necessary, the company offers its biodegradable Trilon M chelate.
In the area of fabric care, Ciba Specialty Chemicals highlighted several products from the company’s portfolio at an Innovation Day last month. “Fabric appearance is about making clothes look and feel newer longer, by maintaining, improving and restoring the look and feel of fabrics during laundry,” said Nicolas Spillman, business head fabric appearance at Ciba. “The company’s approach to innovation is to look into key unmet customer needs and translate functionality into competitive advantage—recognizably helping to improve the consumers’ experience.”
Examples from Ciba include Tinosorb FD and Ciba Tinosorb FR UV absorbers, which offer sun protection to skin through the application of special ingredients that are added by detergent manufacturers to washing powder and rinse conditioners. The UV-protection level is increased each time clothes are washed with the product.
Another offering by Ciba is its Tinolux photocatalytic systems, which address the problem of graying or yellowing white fabrics through a combination of traditional base whiteness, fluorescent whitening agents and new tinting and shading effects. The Tinolux system uses the sun’s rays to bleach stains and, at the same time, improve the appearance of white fabric to achieve a “total white” effect. Other products include Tinotex (an anti-wrinkling agent) and Tinofix, a dye fixative designed for color protection in washing.
Cold-water washing is an emerging trend in fabric care, and both the major consumer product companies and specialty chemical companies are moving forward with products. Earlier this month, Procter & Gamble introduced the first laundry detergent specifically formulated for cold-water washing. The product, Tide Coldwater, will be rolled out next month in certain markets and nationwide during late February and mid-March. The product will be available in both liquid and powder forms.
“Our research tells us that most consumers recognize and value the benefits of washing in cold water, primarily fabric protection and money and energy savings,” says Procter & Gamble’s Ms. Woffington. “Approximately, 60 percent of US households switch between temperatures to meet their laundry needs. Yet, while consumers like the benefits of cold-water washing, they won’t trade off the cleaning performance associated with warm water. Tide Coldwater addresses this concern by delivering Tide’s deep cleaning in cold water, allowing these consumers to enjoy the benefits of washing in cold water without worrying about performance.”
Cold-water washing creates new opportunities for specialty chemical companies. For example, Novozymes launched its new Stainzyme detergent enzyme product, which is designed to work in cold-water temperatures, earlier this year. “We have been working on this product for five years, and we are proud to have succeeded in producing a completely new type of enzyme that is so effective and environmentally friendly,” says the company.
All of these trends are driving the US market for specialty raw materials for home and fabric care, which is estimated at $1 billion with a volume of 800 million pounds, says Kline. Specialty surfactants and specialty bleaches, activators, enzymes and optical brighteners, combined, account for an estimated 73 and 70 percent of total market volume and value, respectively.
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