(no) swiffers in china

Our apartment in China has white ceramic floors. Being Asians, we have dark hair. This is not an ideal combination.

When we first arrived in Shenzhen, we searched high and low for a Swiffer or something similar with disposable dry cloths, but the closest thing we found were sweepers with reusable microfiber cloths that you have to keep washing. In general, we’ve observed that Chinese consumers prefer to clean with mops and brooms. We tried to adapt and do as the Chinese do, but we only lasted about 2 days before we sent an S.O.S. to the husband’s sister (hi K!): PLEASE SEND SWIFFER. NOW. THANK YOU.

There must be a good reason why Swiffers haven’t made it into China — despite the fact that everyone here lives in homes with hard floors that are ideal for Swiffer use. The way people clean has a lot to do with their culture and values — for example, there is an infamous case about how Swiffers bombed in Italy because Italian women don’t want to take shortcuts when they clean. They spend an average of whopping 21 hours a week cleaning their homes, and what they seek are “tough cleansers, not timesavers.”

Chinese people don’t seem to have such a robust attitude about cleaning, so I’ve been asking around to see why this product might be not be popular here. One of my Chinese friend thought it may be because Swiffer pads are too expensive. I guess that could be true, although I would assume that prices would be adjusted for the local economy. Besides, high prices haven’t kept Chinese consumers from purchasing hundreds of other western items and brands. 

I’m looking into whether Chinese consumers have a different attitude about disposable cleaning items, and if tossing the Swiffer pad after use is considered wasteful. Another consideration is that cleaning ladies are super affordable in this country, and for the price of a handful of disposable pads, you can hire someone to clean your whole apartment for an hour. Sort of. This is what we’d call a substitute product/service, I guess. 

Well, it looks like I will have to keep investigating. If I spoke Chinese, I would totally conduct a focus group to get to the bottom of this issue.    

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2 Responses to (no) swiffers in china

  1. Andy says:

    We used to bring these back from the US – stocking up while home…but here in Shanghai the last couple years, the Japanese grocery store chain CityShop has stocked them. Not sure if CityShop is in other cities around mainland.

    Friends are still awaiting Comet though…that I have not seen and so far no one’s found anything truly comparable.

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