Household supplies aisle in the supermarket, shelves filled with cleaning products. Vector background.

What comes first, the product or the brand? It depends. In 1956, the permanent marker was invented, and then in 1964 along came the Sharpie. Xerox quickly became the term used for any photocopying machine after its introduction into the marketplace in 1959. More people ask for a Kleenex than a tissue and Jell-o is synonymous with gelatin.

When it comes to products used in restrooms, many recognizable consumer brands come in versions suitable for commercial cleaning. Carrying these well-known brands can be advantageous to jan/san distributors.

When the decision-maker recognizes the brand, that can make the buying decision easier, says Glenn Rasin, chemical specialist and lead trainer for EBP Supply Solutions, Milford, Connecticut.

Many distributors offer a variety of name-brand options for soap, hand sanitizer, cleaning chemicals, paper towels, toilet tissue and other restroom products. Most consumers have either used these brands at home or are at least aware of them. But will restroom patrons notice these brands in a commercial setting?

“I think the general public doesn’t realize they’ve seen the brand names, but subliminally, they see it and recognize it,” says Jack Loughrey, account manager at Dalco Enterprises Inc., New Brighton, Minnesota. “I would bet, if you were shown flashcards with the brand logos without the type, just the color and shape, you could identify many, if not most of them.”

It’s the entire package of attributes — the logo, font, design, colors, smell, price, etc. — that makes a product memorable. When someone sees these famous-name products, it provides a sense of assurance, a promise of sorts.

Sometimes a hint of this promise wafts through the scent or when visualizing the color of the product. Either of these sensations creates a level of comfort for the cleaning staff, says Rasin. They have familiarity with this product. That comfort level comes from seeing literally decades of commercials, ads and marketing efforts costing billions of dollars, he says.

Not only do these products breed familiarity, but they have also been proven effective.

“These brands are the leaders for many reasons,” says Loughrey. “Performance and reliability are two of the most important [attributes] for those who work directly with the products.”

Custodial staff members appreciate when products perform as advertised. They don’t like it when they have to work with inferior products like paper towels that “tab” leaving bits of paper all over the floor, leaky soap dispensers or paper towel dispensers that jam, says Loughrey. It means extra work for them.

A company’s brand name is one of its key assets so it has to protect product quality. If something goes wrong, a company has a great deal to lose. For example, Takata airbags are still being recalled. These airbags were installed in millions of vehicles, making this a costly experience for Takata, not just in terms of dollars, but in publicity. Perhaps not surprisingly, Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Because well-known manufacturers do work upfront to ensure product quality, distributors shouldn’t have to worry if the product will perform when pitching it to clients.

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Best Markets For Consumer Cleaning Products