2004 Carpet-Cleaning Chemical Market Study

Chart 1
ICS Cleaning Specialist magazine introduces its second commissioned market study designed to measure the opinions and preferences of floor care professionals as they pertain to the use of carpet-cleaning chemicals and equipment.

The study sample consisted of 1,000 active, direct-request subscribers to ICS magazine who are professional carpet cleaners or smoke/water-damage restoration specialists. The sample was conducted on an Nth name basis from the magazine's domestic circulation. The study received a 25 percent response rate.

It is important to understand the makeup of the sample when analyzing any study. Carpet cleaning is the primary business of 63 percent of respondents (see Chart 1). More than 22 percent cite restoration as their company's primary business, with business service contracting/janitorial, overall floor care and retail floor covering composing the remaining 15 percent.

Chart 2
More than 90 percent of survey respondents are individuals involved in the purchase of carpet-cleaning chemicals. More than 80 percent responded that they are the owner and/or president of their company. Forty-eight percent of companies claim annual expenditures of $5,000 or more on carpet-cleaning chemicals; more than 22 percent spend upwards of $10,000. The median annual revenue for responding companies is $150,000. The median number of employees claimed by companies is four, while 27 percent of companies retain 10 or more.

Residential jobs make up 68 percent of respondents' business, with commercial/industrial/institutional work accounting for the remaining 32 percent. The primary method used for cleaning carpet cited by respondents is hot-water extraction, both truck-mounted and portable, clocking in at 86 percent.

Chart 3
The body of the study concerns the habits that purchasers and users display when dealing with carpet-cleaning chemicals. For example, 35 percent will always try new chemical products when samples are available, and another 56 percent will try them occasionally. Only 9 percent claim they will not try a new product when a sample is available.

More than 65 percent of those responding always use a traffic-lane cleaner or pre-conditioner, according to the study, while 57 percent always use a steam-extraction detergent. Spot and stain removers are always or often employed by 91 percent of respondents. Carpet and fabric protectors are always or often used by 53 percent.

Chart 4
Quality is the most important factor cited by respondents when it comes to selecting carpet-cleaning chemicals (see Chart 2). More than 85 percent claim it is "very important," while only 1 percent dismiss it as "not important at all," and 64 percent singled out quality as the most important single factor in the carpet-chemical selection process. Prior experience with the product ranked second at 16 percent, with cost collecting 6 percent of the vote.

Where companies make purchases can be just as important as why (see Chart 3). Local distributors and suppliers lay claim to 67 percent of the purchases made by survey respondents, with another 24 percent coming directly from the manufacturer. The percentage of purchases made at "Big Box" home centers doubled in 2003, from 1 percent to 2 percent. The remaining 7 percent of purchases were made from other sources.

The Internet continues to make inroads in the carpet-cleaning chemical purchasing cycle. Fourteen percent of respondents make carpet-cleaning chemical purchases online, an increase of more than 50 percent from 2002. And more than 40 percent plan to use the Internet to make their purchases in the future.

Respondents changed how they purchase their chemicals from last year. While 41 percent cited scheduled purchasing as their method of choice in 2002, only 34 percent claimed the same in 2003 (see Chart 4). At the same time, those claiming they "purchase in small quantities" jumped to 54 percent in 2003, up from 41 percent the previous year. Those that "purchase whatever is on sale" remained steady at just over 2 percent.

Survey respondents did not, however, deviate from the amount of chemicals they choose to keep on-hand. More than 65 percent stocked one month's worth of carpet-cleaning chemicals in 2003, the same as in 2002. Overall, 95 percent of those responding claimed a month's worth of supply or more on-hand at any one time.

To continue to strengthen and build on the relationships between chemical manufacturers and their clients, it is important for both sides to understand why, when and how companies make their carpet-cleaning chemical purchases.

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