How general merchandise products are striving toward clean-label

Consumers are increasingly seeking products with clean-label ingredients, and that desire goes far beyond the foods and beverages that they consume. From cosmetics to cleaning products and beyond, many shoppers are carefully reading the labels on their general merchandise purchases to see which ingredients they contain.

Some 39% of shoppers say they’d be willing to switch brands so they could use products with more accurate ingredient information, according to a recent study from Nielsen and Label Insight. CPG firms have responded with new formulations and innovations that provide consumers with more peace of mind in the products they’re using.

Cleaning products

Consumers who seek clean-label foods and beverages feel the same way about ingredients in the products they use to clean their homes. Companies are answering the call, and brands like Seventh Generation have created entire portfolios of products that provide consumers with new choices that give them deeper insight into what they’re using to clean their homes.

The eco-friendly, natural and wellness portion of the cleaning products space is growing at a 70% rate, Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein told Forbes. “Think about it, we eat two to three pounds of food each day,” Bergstein said. “Yet, we consume 30 to 40 pounds of air every day.”

That interest in wellness goes beyond the items consumers use to clean their floors and counter tops, and into laundry as well. Last month, eco-friendly detergent and fabric care cleaning product firm The Laundress was acquired by Unilever -- the same company that owns Seventh Generation.

“Natural ingredients are actually far more efficacious than synthetic ones, although they are more expensive,” The Laundress co-founder Gwen Whiting told The Business Journals.

Personal care and beauty items

Consumers who care what they put into their bodies also scrutinize what they put onto them, so items like shampoo, cosmetics and feminine care products are increasingly moving toward clean-label formulations as well.

Last year, Johnson & Johnson released an updated version of its Johnson’s Baby Shampoo product, which had been colored yellow for decades. The company’s new clean-label formulation stripped the yellow coloring from the product, but the firm packaged it in a yellow bottle to ensure that its fans could still find the familiar-colored product. J&J worked with several social influencers to spread the word on its reformulated shampoos, The Wall Street Journal reported.

On the retailer side, Target is expanding its natural beauty line, debuting a wide variety of personal care, beauty, baby care and other products that don’t use phthalates, formaldehydes and several other ingredients. From deodorant to toothpaste, the chain has more than 1,300 natural beauty products on its shelves, Glossy reported.

Feminine products are also reformulating, and big firms are taking notice. Earlier this month, Procter & Gamble acquired natural feminine hygiene brand This Is L. The company's products are available in over 5,000 US stores, The Business Journals reported.

Packaging

Consumers who are working to reduce their environmental footprints aren’t solely looking at what’s inside the packaging, but also what’s on the outside. Therefore, general merchandise manufacturers are responding with more eco-friendly packaging options. “Ultimately, brands must decide how important clean packaging is to their customers -- the end consumer -- before they can strategically approach clean packaging,” HAVI’s Wendell Williams told Packaging Digest.

Some firms are moving away from plastic packaging, or are gravitating toward concentrated formulations that will allow for smaller packages. In addition, personal care companies are releasing innovative alternatives to typical packaging. For instance, personal care brand Cleancult sells its soap and detergent refills in paper milk cartons.

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