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2024 customer research highlights key industry trends

Thursday, 22 February 2024

We've collated the results from our recently conducted annual survey to understand the most pressing issues and prevailing sentiment in the industry. Read on to find out.

Voice of the industry
We recently conducted our annual survey of cleaning distributors to understand the most pressing issues and prevailing sentiment in the industry. The results revealed a cautious optimism for the year, with just 34% of respondents forecasting price increases in the year (in contrast to the over 90% that predicted increases in 2023) and general anticipation that inflation and supply chain issues will have less impact in 2024 compared to last year.
Alistair Scott, sales director at Robert Scott, commented: “2024 is set to be a mixed bag of optimism amidst some persisting uncertainties. While the industry is not fully insulated from the impacts of ongoing global events such as the conflict in Ukraine and logistical challenges in the Red Sea, there is a sense of emerging stability. 
“In response, businesses are adopting a wait-and-see approach, while remaining hopeful for economic recovery. Cost rises have certainly already begun to ease, and many businesses have absorbed elements of previous increases to reduce the impact on their customers – a commitment we share at Robert Scott.”
Prevailing trends
Given the continuing uncertainty combined and cautious outlook, it isn’t a surprise that achieving value for money came out as the most important trend for the year in the research (62%).
Perhaps a little more surprisingly, given the prevailing mood, is that the second and third leading trends identified were ‘reducing plastic waste’ (55%) and ‘green cleaning’ (48%). In fact, both issues have seen a significant increase in priority since last year.
Even as cleaning and FM businesses continue to grapple with challenging market conditions and move with caution in their planning and decision-making, their growing commitment to and concern around sustainability issues has not waivered. It has, in fact, grown.
No doubt, this is in part due to the changing market demand they are facing. Indeed, 80% of survey participants acknowledged that sustainability is either important or very important to their clients.
Consequently, initiatives to cut down on plastic waste (55%) and promote green cleaning (48%) have seen a significant increase in priority since last year, ranking as the second and third biggest predicted trends for 2024 respectively.
A focus on sustainability
“At Robert Scott, we’re doing their bit to help businesses reduce their supply chain footprint too. For example, many of our essential products – from wet floor signs to buckets – now contain 70%+ recycled plastic content”, explained Alastair. 
“In addition, we have also reduced the amount of plastic used in certain core products, moved to 30% recycling plastic packaging and recycle all end-of-life plastic. Taken together, these initiatives amount to 270 tonnes of plastic saved each year.”
“It is also evident in the success of our Toucan Eco range is a testament to this shift, supporting safer work environments and contributing to sustainability goals, through reduced chemical use and plastic wastage. “
Turning point for the industry
With a general election looming, 20% of respondents also anticipate that the political environment will impact their business this year. Key industry expectations for the government include measures to combat inflation (34%) and reduce regulatory hurdles (21%).
Alastair added: “Despite the headwinds, it’s an exciting period for our industry with emerging opportunities arising as the sector adapts to new market priorities. Businesses with robust sustainability practices are set to stand out in the market, and as the industry continues to grapple with labour shortages, investing in training and innovation will help businesses enhance workforce efficiency.
“We have almost 100 years’ heritage and experience of adapting to change and helping cleaning businesses succeed in the face of evolving demand. We’re likewise committed to supporting our customers make the most of the opportunities on offer today, through cutting-edge, sustainable solutions that not only elevate cleaning standards but also enrich the careers of those within the industry.”
Proud of our reputation
The survey also explored Robert Scott’s customer satisfaction levels. Alistair concluded: “We’re also committed to providing the best possible service to professionals in the cleaning industry, so customer satisfaction levels are incredibly important to us. 
“We’re therefore very proud that 93% of our customers rated our overall service as good or great, with 100% stating they’d recommend our products. This is an area we’ll continue to dedicate ourselves to and ensure we never rest on our laurels.” Additionally, 97% of respondents stated that Robert Scott had good or great product availability.