Cleaning products have become essential in the everyday life of the modern consumer. For this reason, the market continues to grow year on year - global sales of household cleaning products are predicted to reach $147bn in 2017. It may also be the reason that this market tends to be more resistant to downturns in the world economy than other sectors, such as construction and automobiles.

This obviously presents numerous ongoing opportunities for those in the cleaning products market. Identify niches in this industry with this definitive guide to current trends and drivers in the sector, brought to you by the leading experts at Smithers Apex.

1. Performance
Above all, a cleaning product must be effective and live up to the promise made on the pack. Although essential, cleaning can be time-consuming so products which complete the task quickly and to a high standard are favorable. Consumers in developed economies are more likely to pay a premium for a product if it performs well.

Products which combine their efficiency with innovative features have an advantage in this marketplace. As is the case in a number of other market sectors, the need to stand out from the competition is key for cleaning product manufacturers. While it is essential to differentiate the pack on-shelf, the product itself should also have innovative functions to establish the product and brand as market leaders.

2. Cost-effectiveness
While a number of customers in more developed regions are willing to pay more for a product if it performs better, others may prefer cheaper products, and will accept a certain reduced level of performance.

In most of the developing world price is even more important as consumers have less money to spend. Manufacturers of cleaning products must balance these two aspects in order to succeed in the market. Manufacturers can minimize costs by using less sophisticated ingredients, provided that they still achieve the level of performance which consumers expect. Manufacturers can also reduce pack size as a way of immediately reducing this cost for their customers.

3. Ease of use
Consumers have increasingly busy lifestyles, so products which make the process of gaining a spotless home more quickly and at minimum effort are becoming increasingly popular. Identifying ways to make products as intuitive and easy to use as possible will be key to succeeding in this market.

Cleaning wipes, for example, are growing in popularity due to their simple and disposable nature, and packaging innovations such as dispensers and measured amount sachets are proving popular with European consumers in particular.

Continuing with this idea, products which serve more than one function are generally successful due to their perceived convenience factor. Customers who are looking after their money carefully or who have little storage space at home will be attracted by the idea that one product can serve two cleaning purposes for them. Examples include P&G's 3 in 1 laundry tablets and laundry detergents, which now also contain fabric conditioners.

4. Environmental awareness
Consumers in developed economies have become more aware of how their everyday activities are affecting our world. They are considering how the extraction, manufacture and disposal of cleaning products has a major effect on their energy and water consumption, and are looking for ways to minimize their wider impact. One example of this is the green cleaning products market.

Legislation, particularly in Europe, ensures all products meet basic environmental standards, but does not cover sustainability. For this reason, the race is on to develop sustainable cleaning products using detergent ingredients from natural renewable sources that cost and perform as well as being sourced from petrochemicals. Suitable renewable sources include palm, coconut and other plant oils.

Currently, the most important technical target is to find renewable biodegradable builders to replace STPP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which is thought to contribute to eutrophication; an excessive growth of plants in waterways..

Although important in developed economies, sustainability is not the main driver in the cleaning products market. Therefore most important for manufacturers will be balancing this preference for eco-friendly products with an ability to meet the genuine and perceived needs of consumers.

5. Fragrance, aesthetics and packaging
As the market becomes more saturated, differentiators such as an attractive packs or pleasant fragrances have increased shelf appeal and can influence buyer's quick purchasing decisions.

One of the most important factors of a cleaning product is efficacy, so packaging should showcase both the product's efficiency and quality. Similarly, many cleaning product packaging solutions are clear in order to allow the consumer to see the consistency and color of the products, which can be key indicators of perceived performance. For consumers in both the developed and developing world, a pleasant fragrance is an added bonus indicating cleanliness. Conversely, a number of consumers may prefer cleaning products to be fragrance-free so as to not irritate skin.

Need to know more about what's driving the green cleaning products market? Our in-depth market report, The Future of Sustainable Cleaning Products to 2017, provides qualitative and quantitative market forecasts categorized by region and product type.