Press Room

The dirt on cleaning: men share more of the load than you think

In Belgium, 40% say that housework is either a shared responsibility (26%) or the domain of men (14%)
Insights explore the underlying macro-economic forces impacting the homecare industry

Brussels Today, 45% of Belgian respondents say the female head of household does the majority of cleaning. But that’s not to say men aren’t sharing in the load. In Belgium, 26% say house cleaning is a shared responsibility between the two heads of the household, and 14% of respondents say men do the majority of cleaning. Responsibility for product purchasing largely mirrors who is doing the cleaning—with even greater female influence. More than half of Belgian respondents (56%) say the female head of household buys the majority of cleaning products, nearly one-quarter (23%) say it’s a shared responsibility and slightly fewer (18%) say the male head of household is responsible for the majority of purchasing.

“The perception that home care is only women’s work is inaccurate,” said Sarah Peters, Nielsen Global Business Partner. “The female head of household remains a key stakeholder in the cleaning process in many homes, but as more men play an active role in housework, marketing strategies need to reflect a more balanced approach—from product innovations to marketing messages. This will require a deeper understanding of how each gender approaches the task of cleaning and where gaps in current offerings may exist.”    


Modern retailers come out on top in every region as the self-reported place to purchase cleaning products. 90% of Belgian respondents say they purchased household cleaning products from a large retail chain (such as a mass merchandiser or hypermarket) in the past 12 months.

When choosing a particular shop to purchase their house cleaning products, Belgians are very clear in their preferences: 52% report that they choose the shop where they can find the best prices, followed by where they can find their desired products (38%).

Purchasing of household products online in Belgium (5%), however, still lags behind other faster growing regions, though Belgian statistics match those seen in Europe (9%).

“Presently, e-commerce accounts for only a small share of household products sales, but it is growing rapidly, particularly in Asia. As increasing economic prosperity in the region drives sales of household cleaners, establishing and maintaining strong relationships with both brick-and-mortar and pure-play online retailers will be important for capitalizing on this growth,” said Peters.


It should come as no surprise that efficiency and value top the list of most important attributes in a home cleaning product. Fifty-nine percent of Belgian respondents say performance (it cleans well) is very important when selecting a household cleaning product. In addition, more than half (55%) say good price/value is very important. Connected with efficacy is previous experience. Almost four in 10 Belgian respondents say previous experience is very important when selecting household-cleaning products, while 33% say sales and promotions on the product are very important.

Consumers purchasing laundry detergent also list high efficiency products (i.e,. products that require less water) as a top attribute (51%), along with ability to get stains out (43%) and preservation of color (40%). The usually price conscious Belgians noted lowest cost (38%) as fourth most important factor when purchasing a laundry detergent. Less important to Belgian consumers is the environmental factor: about one-fourth (26%) of Belgian respondents say they seek detergents that don’t contain harsh chemicals and slightly fewer (22%) want environmentally friendly detergents.


The Nielsen Global Homecare Survey was conducted Aug. 10 – Sep. 4, 2015 and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 61 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America. The sample includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of equivalent size would have a margin of error of ±0.9% at the global level. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion.


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit


Andrew McCaskill, 347.331.5725,
Stephanie Manning, +31 (0)20 398 8328,