(Story updated with expert analysis from brand and communications research firm)
Procter & Gamble Company
NEW YORK (
During the recent recession, 70% of consumers surveyed by marketing research company Kelton Research said that they were making purchases differently compared with just a few months ago. The recession caused them to break their habits and affected their so-called brand loyalty. The bed bug out break could be, like the recession, another consumer-behavior-changing event that brings opportunities to large consumer goods companies such as Procter & Gamble.
"Something like this bed bug epidemic can really disrupt and change people's behavior," said Kelton Research analyst Tom Bernthal -- and he means that to the benefit of P&G. Bernthal explained that Procter & Gamble can easily continue to sell to current customers, but new customers can be more expensive to acquire. A disruption to consumers' behavior due to events such as the bed-bug epidemic could send customers to areas of the aisle that they've never looked at before to meet new needs and lead to more revenue for P&G.
Bernthal said the marketing and communications departments at companies such as P&G have been on overtime looking at how their products fit in with the bed-bug epidemic.
P&G provides branded consumers packaged goods to more than 180 countries worldwide through mass merchandisers, grocery stores, membership club stores, drug stores and neighborhood stores. The laundry category constituted about 17% of the company's net sales for fiscal years 2010, 2009 and 2008. The diaper category constituted about 11% of net sales for fiscal years 2010 and 2009 and 10% in 2008. P&G's product segments comes in different prices: super-premium, premium, mid-tier value and low-tier economy products.
As with P&G, the bed bug epidemic could be a golden opportunity for Clorox, Bernthal said.
Like P&G, the cost per acquisition of new customers for Clorox can be steep "because again they have to put out something new. They have to put out something disruptive that will change consumer behavior and that's just a very expensive innovation process," Bernthal explained. What the bed-beg epidemic does is possibly send new customers to Clorox. It would get these types of consumers to "read parts of the label seeking out a product to meet a new need in their lives."
Bernthal said that with good commmunication, Clorox would be able to pick up new consumers who wouldn't have thought twice about them just weeks or months ago.
Clorox is a manufacturer and marketer of consumer and institutional products with about 8,300 employees globally and fiscal year 2010 net sales of $5.5 billion. The company sells its products mainly through mass merchandisers, grocery stores and other retail outlets. Top brands include its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Glad trash bags and Burt's Bees personal care products.
As a component of the $8.7 billion extermination, insect and pest control industry, Rollins could certainly see additional revenue streams from the bed bug outbreak, on top of its main focus on ants, termites and roaches. "The company has an extensive pest control business and is likely to be observing increased demand due to bed bug problems," IBISWorld says.
Rollins has a 12.4% market share of the extermination, insect and pest control industry and operates under brand names such as Orkin Pest Control, Western Pest Services, the Industrial Fumigant Company, PCO Services, Home Team Pest Defense and Crane Pest Control. IBISWorld said Rollins, like all companies in the extermination business, is subject to seasonality, as different pests "come out of the woodwork" at different times of the year. Rollins' revenue growth has benefited from the many domestic and international acquisitions made over recent years, IBISWorld said.
How Monsanto (MON) Will Benefit From the Bed-Bug Epidemic:
Any business that is involved in the manufacturing of pest control products is likely to observe increased demand from the bedbug epidemic, IBISWorld pointed out. Monsanto is, of course, one of the biggest names in the business.
Although Monsanto's pest control products serve mostly the crop, livestock and agricultural sector, a small proportion does go to households, IBISWorld noted. "From the retailing aspect
looking for do-it-yourself pest-control products, to the professional services sector like the extermination, insect and pest-control industry, demand is likely to come from both sides."
Despite its gradually diminishing role in the crop-protection industry, Monsanto is still most well-known known for its flagship herbicide product Roundup -- a name synonymous with pesticides -- IBISWorld said. Once the third-largest crop-protection company, Monsanto has been positioning itself as a provider of seed and biotech trait products and focusing on helping corn, soybean and cotton farmers increase their crop yields.
Bayer, like aforementioned Monsanto, is one of the biggest names in the manufacturing of pest control products and therefore is likely to see a pickup in demand from the bedbug epidemic, according to IBISWorld. Like Monsanto, Bayer AG also primarily serves the crop, livestock and agricultural sector, but like Monsanto, has a hand in the household sector.
Bayer AG's Profile:
Bayer AG company Bayer CropScience AG is a top-three player in the global crop-protection industry, according to IBISWorld. Bayer CropScience describes itself as a leader in crop protection, non-agricultural pest control and seed and crop-plant biotechnology.
How Sealy (ZZ) Will Benefits From the Bed-Bug Epidemic:
"The problem with bed bugs is that if you have them, you need to 'bomb' your house to kill the eggs and leftover bugs and also get yourself a new bed," IBISWorld pointed out. Thus, the mattress business is another that's expected to see an uptick from the bedbug outbreak. "Exterminators recommend that you throw away carpets, rugs and anything that may house bed bugs -- including mattresses," IBISWorld says. "This would mean firms like Sealy could see a slight uptick."
Headquartered in Trinity, North Carolina, Sealy is the world's largest manufacturer of mattresses.
Like previously-mentioned Rollins, Ecolab is part of a $8.7 billion extermination, insect and pest control industry whose key areas includes ants, termites and roaches. However, the bed-bug epidemic could result in additional revenue, said IBISWorld.
Ecolab has a 5.3% market share of the extermination, insect and pest control industry, according to IBISWorld. The diversified company provides cleaning, sanitizing, pest control, maintenance and repairs services and has pest control operations all over the world -- including the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the U.K. Much of Ecolab's clients are in the hospitality, food service, health care, government, institutional and industrial sectors. Ecolab has an "estat" pest reporting system with electronic documentation that clients can access with the Internet.
E.I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS
Like Monsanto and Bayer AG, du Pont could experience an uptick in demand due to the bed-bug epidemic because of its leading role in pest-control product manufacturing, IBISWorld notes. The household portion of its business may be small, but could experience a demand uptick due to the outbreak. E.I. du Pont de Nemours caters mostly to the crop, livestock and agricultural sector.
E.I. du Pont de Nemours' Profile:
DuPont Crop Protection business is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. The company's products include herbicides, fungicides and insect-control products.
Brand and communications research company Hall & Partners said its WebWord tool -- which the company uses to monitor online "buzz" for clients and brands it's tracking -- shows that "fail" and "resistant" are among the words most strongly associated with searches on "bed bugs and cure." However, no brand is being singled out as a failure. Likewise, no search results were showing up for "cure."
Hall & Partners believes these results indicate an important opportunity for many consumer goods companies. "While people are talking a lot about bed bugs lately, no one seems to know what to do with them," Hall & Partners director Brigette Lytle said. "If a brand started talking about how they are a cure for bed bugs they can have a stronghold in the market before anyone else gets out there with it."
Hall & Partners' search also included the words, "exterminate, cures, fix and treatment." The following pages display the company's charts illustrating the peak in bed bug chatter over the last few weeks.
The above popularity curve shows the occurrence of the term "bed bugs" on Twitter. Source: Hall & Partners
The above popularity curve shows the occurrence of the term "bed bugs" in the online blogging platform. Source: Hall & Partners
The above popularity curve shows the occurrence of the term "bed bugs" in the online forums platform. Source: Hall & Partners
-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.
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