ICS Magazine

ICS Carpet-Cleaning Chemical Market Study

February 6, 2003


Chart 1
ICS magazine recently commissioned a 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 size and scope of the study dictates that only specific responses can be represented here; see the box at the end of the feature for more information.

The study sample consisted of 1,000 active, direct-request subscribers to ICS Cleaning Specialist who are professional carpet cleaners or smoke/water damage restoration specialists. The sample was selected on an Nth name basis from the magazine’s domestic circulation. The study received a 27 percent response rate.

More than 95 percent of survey respondents are individuals involved in the purchase of carpet-cleaning chemicals. More than 80 percent are the owner and/or president of their company. Companies reported a median expenditure of $4,750 annually on carpet-cleaning chemicals; 26 percent of those responding spend $10,000 or more. The median annual revenue for responding companies is $150,000.

Chart 2

It is important to understand the makeup of the sample responding to any study. A number of company features, some expected and some not, came to light as the responses were compiled. Carpet cleaning is far and away the primary business of respondents at 71 percent (see Chart 1), while restoration claimed a 16 percent response. The median number of people employed by responding companies is four, while 22 percent of respondents claim 10 or more employees.

Residential jobs make up 69 percent of respondents’ business, with com-mercial/institutional/industrial account for the remaining 31 percent. The primary method used by respondents to clean carpets is hot-water extraction, both truck-mounted and portable, coming in at an overwhelming 90 percent.

Chart 3

The main body of the study concerns habits that purchasers and users display when dealing with carpet-cleaning chemicals. For instance, 47 percent will always try new chemical products when samples are available, and another 48 percent will try them on occasion. Only 5 percent claim to never try a new product if a sample can be had.

Traffic-lane cleaners and pre-conditioners are popular items, as 65 percent of respondents will always use them on the job. Another 21 percent use them often; only 4 percent never employ them. Spot-and-stain remover, carpet and fabric protectors and truckmount-formula detergents also enjoy a high degree of use on a consistent basis.

The most important factor our respondents take into consideration when selecting carpet-cleaning chemicals? Quality (see Chart 2). More than 60 percent of those responding named quality as the single most important criterion they consider when selecting their chemicals. Prior experience with the product was second with 14 percent, while cost collected 9 percent of the vote.

Chart 4

Just as important as why companies are making their chemical-purchasing decisions is where they are making them (see Chart 3). Study respondents make 65 percent of their purchases from their local distributor or supplier, while another 25 percent came directly from the chemical manufacturer. Only 1 percent of purchases are made in “Big Box” home centers, while another 9 percent are made from other sources.

Technology is slowly but surely making inroads in the chemical-purchasing paradigm. While just 9 percent of respondents currently make purchases of carpet-cleaning chemicals online, almost 40 percent plan to use the Internet to make purchases in the future.

The driving forces behind how responding companies make their buying decisions shows a generally well-organized, professional approach (see Chart 4) to purchasing in the industry. Forty-one percent of respondents purchase carpet-cleaning chemicals in small quantities, while another 41 percent name scheduled purchasing to best describe their buying habits. Only 2 percent named “purchase whatever is on sale,” as their purchasing approach.

This methodical approach to purchasing is reflected in the supply of chemicals companies keep on hand at any one time. When asked, 65 percent of respondents claimed an on-hand supply of one month’s worth of chemicals (overall, 94 percent of respondents claimed a month’s worth or supply or more.).

To enhance and improve the synergy between chemical manufacturers and their clients, it is important to understand the underlying reasons of why, where and how a company makes its carpet-cleaning chemical purchases.