Here’s a few stats to get your head in a spin. The average Brazilian family does three to five loads of laundry each week. If you consider that each load takes between four to five hours from wash to dry, that’s way more time than most people want to spend on dirty socks and their laundry basket.

Hours wasted is not the only factor making people look to outsource laundry responsibilities.

Companies such as Airbnb and Uber which have emerged during the lifetime of millennials mean wide acceptance of a business model where private individuals are happy to share assets and services.

This sharing economy means “people, especially young people, are more comfortable with accessing goods rather than owning them,” as Christoph Lutz, Associate Professor of Communication and Culture at BI Norwegian Business School, explains to Businessbecause.com.

Why buy when you can share?

If your mindset is ‘why buy a car when you can grab an uber?’ it doesn’t take a massive leap to think ‘why buy a washing machine when you can get your clothes cleaned at a launderette?’

These are just two of the factors making Omo Brazil’s Business Development Director Teo Figueiredo excited by the laundry brand’s recent acquisition of the Acerte Group’s chain of 123 franchised laundromats and ‘express’ tailors.

He also adds one more. “There’s a considerable sustainability angle to having your washing done by a laundry service provider,” he says.

Inside an OMO branded laundromat in Brazil on launch day

How green is your machine?

“Commercial top-loading washing machines hold more clothes and use up to 72% less energy and water than front-loading household machines,” Teo explains. “The average residential washing machine uses 120 litres of water per cycle, our machines use 40 – and that’s a considerable water saving, not just for the planet but for Brazilian households that pay for their water supply.

“Instead of spending four to five hours taking clothes from wash to dry,” he continues, “our machines have your washing ready in 75 minutes. They use 2kW of energy per cycle, smaller household machines use 9kW.”

Residential washing machine - 120 Litres per cycle - 9kW of energy per cycle - 4-5 hours to wash and dry - 28kg of plastic per year Omo Lavanderia (machines + product) 72% less water and energy - 40 litres per cycle - 2kW of energy per cycle - 75 min to wash and dry - 18kg of plastic per year

Less is more

Larger loads can save detergent and cut back on plastic too. “Most people overwash clothes and add too much detergent to machines which can really impact an individual’s carbon footprint,” says Teo. “If all your laundry was service washed by a professional provider, you’d reduce your plastic consumption by 10kg a year.”

Not just the machine but what goes in it

And it’s not just the process that can be more sustainable, having clothes properly laundered can add to their lifespan in people’s wardrobes. According to consumer psychologist Kate Nightingale who is quoted in the Guardian newspaper, as more people invest in sustainable clothing, “going to a laundry run by a trusted brand that produces quality products means, by association, that your products will be safe”.

The Acerte stores are currently in the process of being rebranded as Omo launderettes, the first one is customer ready, and 15 stores have been sold to licensed franchisees.

The launch of an app is imminent. It will allow customers to have their washing collected and returned freshly laundered to their door. Teo expects the app launch to be followed by an increase in franchisee and customer interest, as it provides minimal social contact and access to professional cleaning services while the public continues to live with the threat of Covid-19.

So what should we expect from Omo launderettes in five years’ time? “The idea,” says Unilever Brazil’s Vice President of Marketing, Eduardo Campanella, “is to have the largest franchise in the sector – taking numbers from 123 to 500 stores.” And the ambition doesn’t stop there – the franchise has potential to roll out to the other 162 countries where Unilever is present and where people are keen for more me-time away from household chores.

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