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Cleaning products manufacturers bet on conscious consumption

As the awareness growths among Brazilian consumers regarding sustainability, the cleaning products industry reinforces its portfolio with items that are less harmful to the environment. In the past, these products used to be fabricated only by less traditional companies, but nowadays it is possible to find options produced by the giants in the sector, such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble.
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Source: Juliana Kirihata, iG São Paulo (09/01/2010)

noticias_produtos_limpeza_24.02.2010.jpgA new survey carried out by ESPM (School of Marketing and Advertisement) found out that 76% of people in classes A, B and C are interested in buying products of brands involved in  environmental matters, even if they cost a little bit more.  This information is strong enough to stimulate the development of new products focusing on sustainability.

Ingleza's ecological line took four years to be developed

In 2008, Unilver launched Comfort Concentrado, fabric softener, which uses less water, energy and plastic in its composition. The soap powder Ariel Ecomax, developed by  Procter & Gamble and commercialized exclusively by Walmart, uses 30% less water because it produces less foam during washing. Meanwhile, 3M has announced the replacement of solvent by a water based adhesive for its whole Scotch-Brite sponge line, as well as the use of recycled fibers of PET bottles.

The vice-chair of Ingleza, a traditional cleaning products company from Minas Gerais state, Antônio Novaes, bets on the recently launched line Amo o Verde (I Love Green, in Portuguese) to win new customers in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states – markets in which Ingleza has a small share.

According to him, the Amo o Verde Line took four years do be developed. Besides using biodegradable raw material, products were not tested on animals and the packing is made of recycled material. “We have carried out extensive research in European countries to learn the laws in which these products are based,” explains Novaes.

The company with the biggest number of cleaning products listed in the sustainable catalog of Getulio Vargas Foundation's (FGV, in Portuguese) Center of Studies in Sustainability is Cassiopeia, which was one of the precursors of this movement. Creator of Biowash line – elaborated with biodegradable babaçu coconut and aloe vera based products, Cassiopeia previews a increase of 20% in the line income for 2010, leaded by the “continuous increase in people's awareness of the importance of protecting the environment.”

Price may limit consumption

However, although people are increasingly more interested in green products and companies are willing to invest in this segment, the fact that sustainable lines are usually higher priced is still an obstacle to increase this type of consumption. “The market is thinking that the consumer is the one who has to be conscious and pay more, but it is the company who has to absorb the costs,” says Fábio Mariano, Professor of Applied Sciences of Consumption at ESPM. In his opinion, companies are wrong if they think that products choice is based only on ideology.

Consumers are more aware

Novaes, at Ingleza, agrees with the professor. “People feel inclined toward the product, but when they have to buy they look at the price,” he says. The Amo o Verde line is in average 5% more expensive than normal lines, a difference that, according to Novaes, is not that significant to the consumer. With new products at competitive prices, the company hopes that within four year the green line will increase in R$ 30million the income of the brand, which accounts for 30% of the total. “The objective is to grow and inspire people to invest more on the green. Not only us, but also our competitors.”

Novaes believes that it is likely that all Ingleza's products become sustainable, mas he admits that the process will be slow, since not only the ecological aspect is important, but the price also has to be accessible. “We are developing new products which are not feasible yet, because they would be too expensive or because they are not as efficient as the normal ones yet.”

Sociologist Maria de Fátima Portilho, who wrote the book "Sustentabilidade ambiental, consumo e cidadania" (“Environmental sustainability, consumption and citizenship”, in Portuguese), believes that it will take time for the awareness process to be efficient in the Brazil. “The buying practices have always being seen as individual practices, alienated, in a way, from the collective context,” states Portilho. But the scenario is starting to change, she says. “More and more the so called 'environmentalization' is becoming present in consumption discourses and practices.”

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