What you need to know

The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the household market. Natural-dominant consumers embraced disinfectants to stay ahead of the virus, while mainstream-dominant consumers gained exposure to natural products when their regular brands were out of stock. This dynamic exposed more consumers to natural cleaners. Today, 24% of all consumers and 36% of parents of children aged five and under say they will increase their natural product usage after the pandemic.

Consumers also express high interest in natural disinfectants, and this suggests an opportunity for brands to make wellness more central to their strategies. Yet the market structure for natural products is also changing. Natural launches from big brands mean that the green niche can’t survive on natural status alone. These brands will have to innovate so that natural formulas make homecare faster and more convenient.

This Report looks at the following areas

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the natural household market.

  • How the pandemic recession’s growing income divide will create both threats and opportunities for natural products

  • Innovation strategies for the recovery

  • How natural brands can create common ground to appeal to both mainstream-dominant and natural-dominant consumers


This Report focuses on how environmental considerations influence the usage and purchase of household care products, which include:

  • Fabric/laundry care

  • Dishwashing products

  • Hard surface care

  • Aircare

  • Bathroom cleaners

  • Household paper products (toilet tissue, paper towels, facial tissues)

The terms “environmentally friendly,” “eco-friendly,” “green” and “natural” are used interchangeably to denote products that are designed to be less harmful for the environment (eg from brands such as Seventh Generation and Method).

This Report also makes reference to “mainstream or traditional cleaning products,” which are defined as those that do not claim to be eco-friendly.

This Report segments consumers into four clusters by level of natural purchase. These are

  • Only mainstream – consumers who buy no natural household products

  • Exploratory – consumers who buy natural in 1-2 household categories

  • Committed – consumers who buy natural in 3-4 household categories

  • Ideological – consumers who buy natural in five or more household categories

This Report was written in May 2021. Consumer research was fielded in January 2021.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on CBO estimates released on February 1, 2021. The CBO’s previous forecast for US GDP to fall by 5.8% in 2020 was revised after a stronger second half of the year, and the updated estimate indicates negative 3.5% GDP for the year. The CBO forecast for GDP to grow by 4.6% in 2021 and unemployment to continue to fall to average 5.7% for the year do not take into consideration the impact of the $1.9 trillion economic relief package, which is expected to further boost growth.

COVID-19: US context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. It was declared a global health pandemic and national emergency in early March 2020. Across the US, various stay-at-home orders were put in place in Spring 2020, and nonessential businesses and school districts closed or shifted to remote operations. The remainder of 2020 saw rolling orders, as states and local governments relaxed and reinforced guidelines according to the spread of the virus in each region.

Vaccine roll-out began in December 2020. Mintel anticipates business operations in the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 as vaccines are widely administered and social distancing restrictions and capacity limitations gradually relaxed.

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