Europeans Play It Safe In Personal Cleansers

By Katie Middleweek, Editor, European Cosmetic Markets | January 10, 2012

It has been a mixed year for the personal cleanser sector in Europe with some Big 5 countries recording gains and others posting losses. This can be seen as quite a “utilitarian and everyday” cosmetics and toiletries category and, as such, can suffer from a lack of new product development and interest from consumers. On one hand at least, soaps, showers gels and bath additives are always going to be in regular use by people, thus securing the future of the market for the long-term. But it does have to be said that the very safe rollouts of the past year leave a lot to be desired in terms of making the category more interesting.

Lathering Up Nicely

The French bathroom products market seems to have been lathering up nicely during the past year, and according to Symphony IRI France, the market grew 2.7% in 2011 to more than $1.3 billion. Much of the activity here is focused on the shower category that accounts for about 73% of the French spending for bathroom products. Shower products grew 2.5% to $678 million, while sales of products more than 500ml in size grew 9.3% to $96 million as French consumers opted for larger formats, perhaps because of the greater value for money they offer. One rapidly emerging sector here is dermo protection shower gels—products that offer enhanced skin care benefits—such as Dove’s very recent launch, Mon Soin Cocooning. The three-gel range contains the brand’s hydra nutrium technology, featuring glycerine and lipids designed to intensely nourish the skin to leave it feeling soft and silky.
This sector expanded 12% last year to $12 million, while sales of exfoliating shower products grew 17% to $8 million.

Bubbling Up

According to the latest data from SymphonyIRI Germany, personal cleanser sales rose 2.4% to more than $1 billion last year, on a 2.5% gain in volume to 180.8 million units. Shower products were the dominant sub-sector, accounting for 56.5% of value sales, with soaps coming next with a 25.8% share and bath additives taking third place with 17.7%.

When it came to NPD, personal care giant Schwarzkopf & Henkel dominated, rolling out a raft of new additions for the bathroom. A couple of note include Fa Fantasy Moments Dark Diamonds and Jade Blossom Shower Cream and Fa Sensual and Oil, a bath and body care range. The first product is a rich and moisturizing shower cream which has light aquatic top notes of citrus and bergamot, a heart of lily, violet and rose and a base of amber, musk and heliotrope. The second range was launched especially for use in during the winter months and is said to have moisturizing benefits of argan oil, marula oil and sweet almond oil, all presented in festive gold packaging.

Keeping Moisturized

Although NPD in the field of bathroom products was strong in Italy in the past year, the statistics did little to support this. According to the latest data from Italian trade body Unipro, the market slipped 1.2% to slightly more than $1 billion. Of this, bath and shower products accounted for more than 60% of sales.

Vichy’s Nutriextra ShowerCream contains glycerine to soften skin and vitamin B3 to soothe it.

In terms of new products, L’Oréal brand Roger & Gallet launched its new collection, Bois d’Orange, to much acclaim. The range includes a bar soap which is ideal for travelling, a set of three bath soaps, a shower gel and a shower oil. Meanwhile, fellow L’Oréal stablemate Vichy focused its launch activity on tackling dry and very dry skin with the launch of its moisture-packed Nutriextra Shower Cream. This SKU is packed with glycerine, said to be great for softening skin during bathing and vitamin B3, an antioxidant that also helps to soothe the skin.

Spanish Shower Slump

Sales declined as well in Spain, according to SymphonyIRI Spain, as the market tumbled 1.6% to $71 million. Volume fell 1% to 15.4 million units, which concluded a dismal year for the category, as Spanish consumers continued cutting down on cosmetics and toiletries and making savings where they could.

Unlike other cosmetics categories, however, there has not been a massive move away from the more specialist pharmacies and modern drugstores toward supermarkets, hypermarkets and own-brand goods. Indeed, although volumes have fallen across the board, and sales values in supermarkets fell 3% to $92 million in 2011, the value of soaps and bath salts bought in pharmacies actually rose by the same amount to more than $10 million.

Looking at new launches, Lactourea (Puig) released a bath gel that is said to be ideal for daily use and for sensitive skin. The gel-cream is lightly perfumed and lathers quickly for easy absorption into the skin. La Toja (Schwarzkopf & Henkel), meanwhile, launched two bath gels that are designed to bring the spa experience into the home of the consumer at a fraction of the price.

There was also a major launch from Sanex (Colgate-Palmolive) in 2011. Dermo Repair is said to combat the daily wear and tear of the skin, by repairing pH levels and providing the necessary hydration. Dermo Repair uses Sanex’s Activ Restore Complex, which contains high levels of allantoin and hydrating agents, specifically glycerin and lipids that are identical to those in the skin. Along with deodorants, there is a bath gel that is suitable for both dry and normal skin types.

Gelling Together?

UK bathroom product sales rose 2.9% to $872 million. Volume increased 2% to more than 441 million units, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

Bois d’Orange is new from Roger & Gallet.

Having suffered during the recession, sales of branded products are picking up again, growing 6.4% to account for 85.2% of the market. Conversely, private label dipped by 13.4%, as a result of brands improving their product offering plus serious discounting.

Following the success of its previously launched children’s product Gelli Baff, Gelicity UK introduced Gel Spa, an adult bath product that turns bath water into a thick gel-like substance. A gel former transforms water into gel in five minutes and a gel dissolver turns the stuff back into water. The range comprises Gel Spa Relax Bath Gel in lavender, jasmine and bergamot scents, Revive Bath Gel (infused with rosemary) and a Soothe variant containing juniper. There are three foot spa treatments in Cool (peppermint and lemongrass), Refresh (tea tree and grapefruit) and Soothe (lavender and lemongrass) options.

Gel Spa is certainly different and perhaps reflective of what marketers must do to boost sales. There is certainly room for more creativity than is evident in the past year and while playing it safe is certainly one option, the mixed sales results indicate that 2012 is the year for marketers to assume more risks.


European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited, Tel: (44) 0207 193 7447 • Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622