When it comes to bringing consumers back into retail operations across the board, cleanliness and sanitary environments have become the new bellwethers, replacing more traditional concerns of the past. If you’re looking for a sort of universal statistic regarding the importance of cleanliness, in general, these days, consider this: According to The Wall Street Journal, hand sanitizer sales jumped 600% in 2020.
In fact, consumers have indicated that they’re willing to open their wallets for spaces they deem to be clean.
For example, a March 2021 study by global consultant Simon-Kucher & Partners reveals that restaurant customers are likely to spend more than two times as much money at establishments they feel meet their cleanliness standards, making a sanitary facility truly “table stakes.” In fact, notes the study, lower menu pricing is not receiving the same attention as food safety post-COVID-19. Sanitation standards have become among the top purchase criteria for consumers.
Those standards extend beyond the restaurant business into general retail expectations on the part of consumers. Customer experience management software and services company Intouch Insight recently produced its spring consumer habits study, which explored changes in in-store customer expectations due to COVID-19. Topping the list were ensuring that customers wear masks or face coverings and improved cleanliness.
Other key findings in the Intouch study included higher customer expectations that retailers would provide cleaning materials for customer use; 82% of respondents said they feel more comfortable entering a store when hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are made available for their use.
Consumers Better Understand Sanitization
“Cleanliness and hygiene have always been important to club members, but now people will insist on the highest levels of cleanliness before they are comfortable coming back to gyms and studios,” notes Stewart Mandler, chief executive officer at GoodEarth Products, founded in 1996.
To that end, he says, consumers have become more informed about the products they use in their everyday lives. Gyms should expect that when their members return, they will be just as informed about the effectiveness of their disinfectants, sanitizers, and other cleaning products because they have needed to become more informed for personal and at-home cleaning.
The fact that we have all, to some degree, become germaphobes—at least according to Forbes—has played a role in consumers stepping up both the education about and acquisition of their cleaning products during the past year.