Will COVID-19 Change How Consumers Shop for Cleaning Products?

Like toilet paper and canned food, cleaning products are flying off the shelves in unprecedented numbers. With shoppers more conscious of germs than ever before, having a well-sanitized home has become a matter of life and death for many. But is this a temporary change, or is coronavirus likely to affect consumer hygiene habits permanently?

Of course, some people will inevitably go back to their pre-quarantine cleaning routines after the pandemic is over. According to Politico, “how quickly that awareness recedes will be different for different people, but it can never vanish completely for anyone who lived through this year. It could become second nature to recoil from shaking hands or touching our faces—and we might all find we can’t stop washing our hands.”

Some experts have compared the current situation to the Great Depression, noting that people who lived through that period often held on to their survivalist habits for the rest of their lives, such as stockpiling food and avoiding banks. If the pandemic has a similarly traumatic impact on people, it’s likely that many of them will continue to be diligent cleaners and disinfectant zealots for decades to come.

Despite this expected shift in consumer behavior, not all cleaning product brands will be able to sustain their current growth. Notably, the Environmental Protection Agency has released a list of products officially approved as effective tools against Covid-19. Clorox and S.C. Johnson are both large companies that made the EPA’s list of producers, and Clorox stock in particular rose more than 17.3% YTD as the Dow Jones overall plummeted 22%.

With confusing and sometimes conflicting information circulating online (especially on Facebook, where fake news really thrives), brands that have a strong legacy and that can point to reliable scientific data are going to be more likely to sustain lifetime loyalty from shoppers.

New developments in the grocery shopping experience could also have an impact on consumer behavior, if stores adopt some of these practices permanently. More extreme measures (such as restricting the amount of people allowed in stores at a time) are probably going to be relaxed as soon as it’s safe to do so, but elements like hand sanitizing stations and wipes for cleaning cart handles could become enduring fixtures in many grocery stores. If this happens, it will encourage shoppers to think about hygiene and cleaning products as soon as they walk in the door.

We won’t know exactly what kind of impact the pandemic will have on long-term consumer behavior until the quarantine is behind us, but it’s very likely that certain cleaning product brands will see continued growth for years to come as a result.

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