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Pots and pans – pain points and opportunities

Pots and pans – pain points and opportunities

To uncover the truth behind the assumption that most people don’t like doing the dishes, we conducted a range of studies into people’s emotions about the task. We also commissioned an in-home video ethnographic study for unique insights into how people do their dishes.

By David Visvanathan, Global Market Insight Manager Novozymes Household Care
May 1, 2019

It would be easy to assume that what’s true for me is true for most consumers. For example, I don’t like doing the dishes. The thing I dislike most about it is all the time and hard work that goes into scrubbing pots and pans. 

But as a Market Insight Manager with a background in shopper psychology, I know how risky those kinds of assumptions can be. To give consumers what they need, you can’t work on assumptions. You need to really know what their pain points are.


Getting to know consumers’ needs

That’s why we conducted a range of surveys into the emotions consumers feel about doing the dishes. We’ve investigated what they dislike most, and what they want from a detergent. 

One Novozymes study of North American consumers showed that 51% of them find scrubbing annoying(1). The same holds true for European consumers, based on a survey of Danish, French and German consumers. We asked participants what they wanted from a hand dishwash detergent. Less scrubbing came out a clear winner.

What is important for you when you evaluate a hand dishwash detergent's performance?

Figure 1.
Interviewees were selected to represent half those using dishwashers and half those washing by hand. The responses are an average of consumers from Denmark, France, Germany.

Source: User Needs 2013, Novozymes internal consumer survey. N=1507

Avoiding foods we love

Studies have shown that many of the foods European consumers love most are also the ones they most hate cleaning up after. The combination of starch and protein in home-baked goods and many rice and pasta dishes form some of the most stubborn soils, especially when they’re baked into pots and pans.  

Participants in a recent study (2) mentioned pasta carbonara and pesto pasta: 


"They are very fat, so you need to wash twice."


In the same study, some participants said that they simply avoid making certain dishes. Cleaning up afterwards is just too much hassle. 


"Sometimes I’ll make spaghetti bolognese instead of lasagna."


Going deeper with an in-home study 

Knowing that consumers don’t like to scrub is one thing. But we wanted to go deeper. We wanted to know how consumers approached the task, so we could understand what might make it easier for them. 

That’s why we asked our Human Factors Specialist here at Novozymes to design an in-home study of dishwashing habits. For the study, consumers in Italy, Spain, the UK and Russia wore video cameras as they did the dishes. 

The study confirmed our earlier findings - pots and pans are consumers’ biggest pain point when it comes to scrubbing. But what made the study fascinating was seeing first-hand the time and effort that goes into scrubbing, rather than just hearing about it.

"This is really hard work..."

Jill, UK, scrubbing her cookware

The impact of shrinking households

And the challenge for consumers is set to grow. Changing demographics across Europe mean households are getting smaller, with single-person households becoming more common. In 2017, households made up of single adults without children accounted for around one third of EU households. 

These single-person households are less likely to have – or use – a dishwasher. It’s far more likely that people living alone will do the dishes by hand after each meal. 


Finding the opportunities in changing demographics

This trend represents an opportunity for the hand dishwash detergent segment. Smart marketers who target their efforts to this key demographic will get better results. 

Another opportunity for the segment comes from consumers’ dislike of scrubbing pots and pans. After solo cooking, these make up a far larger proportion of the cleaning up than they do after cooking for a crowd. Whether you’re making pasta for one or six, you still have the same number of pots and pans to scrub. 

European players who leverage performance-boosting innovations to turn this consumer challenge into a market opportunity will lead the segment in the years to come.

Find out why enzymatic detergents cut scrubbing time and effort


  1. Novozymes Hand Dish Wash consumer survey in North America, January 2017, n = 1005
  2. DishGo study (2018). In-home video ethnographic study by WESEETHROUGH on behalf of Novozymes.