The sleepiest of concepts has become one of the hottest trends in packaged-goods marketing: sundown.
In a push to expand usage and therefore sales, more brands are pushing nighttime versions of such things as makeup removers and laundry detergents that once seemed to work equally well any time of day.
In fact, the percentage of new household products that either had nighttime versions or mention "sleep" or "dreams" more than doubled to 3.5% in the 12 months ended this May vs. 1.6% the prior 12 months, according to Datamonitor.
They're coming from marketers like Procter & Gamble Co., which first addressed America's growing need for sleep with the successful 2012 launch of ZzzQuil sleep aids. The company followed that up last year with a Febreze Sleep Serenity line of nighttime "bedding refreshers" in such scents as "Warm Milk and Honey."
P&G's Tide, Downy and Bounce then piled on earlier this year with the coordinated launch of a Sweet Dreams Collection across brands. Products include Tide Plus a Touch of Downy Sweet Dreams laundry detergent that has "lavender overtones with gourmand vanilla undertones to create a calming scent to help soothe you to sleep."
Johnson & Johnson was way ahead of the trend with lavender-scented Neutrogena Night Calming Makeup Remover Towelettes, now on their fourth straight year of double-digit sales growth. That's not bad in a growth-starved household and personal-care market that's seen sales rise only 1% the past year.
Certainly marketers are no strangers to trying new dayparts to jumpstart growth -- look no further than the Waffle Taco. But nighttime consumer packaged goods products address a real sleep problem that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control calls a "public health epidemic" affecting 50 million to 70 million adults.
Americans ranked tiredness or fatigue as their No. 2 health worry, just behind stress, with 45% of people listing themselves as "concerned about it now" in a survey earlier this year by Datamonitor. Insomnia was No. 4, affecting 30%. Obesity, for all the exposure it gets, was No. 15 at 22%.
Said Datamonitor's Innovation Insights Director Tom Vierhile: "I think marketers may really be onto the right trend."
Sleeplessness is driven by two other major trends – an aging population and rising use of technology. Numerous studies link aging to more insomnia. One study found that only 20% or fewer adults over 65 rarely or never report sleep problems. Yet a 2011 study by the National Sleep Foundation reported that teens actually exhibited the most signs of "sleepiness" of any age group. A follow-up NSF poll this year concluded that teens who leave their electronic devices on at night get an average of a half-hour less sleep on school nights (7.2 hours) than teens who turn them off at night (7.7 hours).
P&G, in response, promoted a "Tuck In. Turn Off."
Independent clinical studies from the University of Maryland and Memorial Sloan Cancer Center have linked lavender scent to improved sleep.
"When we tested the lavender fragrance, we found that it was proven to relax, to calm and help the consumer unwind," said Laura Mehaffey, brand manager-cleansing for J&J's Neutrogena.
And consumers seem satisfied. Night Calming wipes are one of the top 10 cleansing products overall at mass and No. 3 among wipes, Ms. Mehaffey said.