Are Plant-Based Cleaning Products the Next Market?

Car cleaning
With sales of natural consumer-packaged goods expected to grow over the next few years, firms can capitalize on the opportunity by developing planted-based cleaning product formulations.

Health-conscious consumers have transformed the food and beverage sector with their demand for all-natural ingredients. Despite the organic movement’s small beginnings, annual sales of goods have grown on average 10% each year since 2008. But even though headlines have focused on food and beverages, a similar trend has been happening in the personal care product market.

Organic CPG products such as lotions, lip balms, and shampoos have also grown remarkably, exceeding $3 billion in sales.1 In the United States alone, sales of all-natural and organic products are expected to reach $252 billion by 2019, which is four times the projected growth of regular mainstream consumer packaged goods.2

Developing Plant-Based Cleaning Products for the Next Generation

Plant-based cleaning products have much to offer. While consumers typically think of plant-derived materials in terms of their biodegradability, these materials also boast other advantages when used in CPG products such as soaps and cleaning agents. For example, the increase in allergy and sensitivity awareness, in combination with concerns about the potential health effects of synthetic chemicals, have contributed to a burgeoning market. Plant-based cleaning product formulations that are natural, organic, and non-toxic are perfect for consumers with severe allergies and chemical sensitivities.3 The key to tapping into this waiting demographic hinges upon creating soaps and cleaners from these new naturally-sourced ingredients. CPG firms that are able to target consumers interested in plant-based cleaning products can capitalize on this potential opportunity and gain market advantage.

CPG Companies Must Consider Multiple Factors When Developing Plant-Based Cleaning Products

Developing soaps and cleansers from plant-based ingredients is not enough. CPG firms’ R&D laboratories must ensure their formulations fulfill other consumer expectations.

Expectation #1: Efficacy
Even if a new soap is made from plant-based ingredients that don’t exacerbate allergies or sensitivities, the product will not find traction with consumers if it does not do its job. In the end, the main purpose of soap is to clean, and new formulations must fulfill this basic function at a satisfactory level. To develop effective formulations, researchers must identify novel plant-based ingredients, which then undergo stringent testing to determine their cleaning capabilities. Digital solutions that cut down physical assays by utilizing modeling and simulation can provide organizations the edge they need to bring new products to market faster. For example, scientists could clone previous experiments to quickly modify different recipes, swapping out one surfactant for another and comparing the results with only one experiment instead of two.

Expectation #2: Performance
Efficacy isn’t the only trait an R&D laboratory needs to focus on either. In the case of soap and cleaners, performance also matters. Even the most minor change can raise doubts in consumers. For instance, soaps that don’t exhibit sufficient foaming action can cause suspicion about their function, even if they clean better than competitors. Determining the optimal balance of ingredients required for superior performance may require repeat experiments, which slows down the R&D process. A centralized data environment that allows researchers instant access to information regardless of time zone or geographical location can dramatically lower time spent in this area. Scientists can also use past experiments to ascertain whether a new formulation candidate has the potential to give the desired performance, or whether it needs further testing.

Expectation #3: Appearance
Consumers expect soaps and cleansers to have attractive visual and olfactory traits, and appealing colors and pleasant scents are more likely to win buyers. To successfully incorporate these qualities into new formulations, researchers need the ability to aggregate insights from multiple sources. Doing so will help them identify which plant-based ingredients are best suited for providing these attributes. To decrease the amount of time the act of gathering this information takes, scientists can implement digital tools that manage multiple data streams, offer comprehensive analysis and give researchers the means to understand which physical traits are attainable and appropriate for new formulations.

When developing innovative plant-based cleaning product formulations, CPG firms must ensure comparative function and performance to existing alternatives through extensive testing and adjust, if necessary. Finding the perfect balance of ingredients to achieve these results can be difficult, especially since it is often a matter of fine-tuning. More than ever, formulation optimization will depend upon a comprehensive digital solution that will streamline R&D workflow, support efficient sharing of information and minimize wasted resources.

How CPG Companies Can Stand Out in a Crowded Field

The countless plant-based ingredients can prove overwhelming, and consumers are always looking for the next best thing. In order to capitalize upon the growing all-natural CPG market, firms will need to identify the most desirable benefits and source the ingredients best able to deliver. At the same time, they can use groundbreaking research to determine whether new and unique ingredients can be combined in novel and innovative formulations.

To learn more about BIOVIA’s solutions to support Formulations in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry click here.

1 “Demand For Organics Shows *No Sign Of Slowing* After Double Digit Growth,” February 24, 2016,
2 “Northern Labs unveils natural cleaning products,” May 14, 2016,
3 “Vermont Soap Has a Formula for Cleaning Homes the Nontoxic Way,” June 13, 2016,

BIOVIA Technical Marketing