Making a Splash in Personal Cleansers

November 14, 2005

Marketers are freshening up the category.

Is the personal cleanser segment all washed up? Sales of personal soaps and bath care items sank in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 9, 2003 from $1.9 billion to 1.8 billion, according to data from ACNielsen, Chicago.

The category isn’t saturated, though, according to marketers contacted by Happi. By shifting focus from traditional soap forms to multipurpose cleansers, liquids and body washes, there’s still plenty of room to rejuvenate the segment, industry observers insist.

The numbers bear this out: while bar soaps fell 6.5% to $949 million and liquid soaps shrank from $237 million to $233 million, other categories rose for the year ended Aug. 9, 2003, including specialty soaps, which rose 2.4% to $538 million, ACNielsen data shows.
Aroma Naturals soaps deliver multi-sensory benefits, according to company executives. Four new fragrances are available.

Little Changes, Big Sales
The best-known names in the personal cleansing industry aim to pep up sales in some surprising ways. For instance, Dial added Herbal Springs is this year’s refreshing and uplifting addition to the brand’s other clean-smelling scents such as Mountain Fresh, Spring Water and Tropical Escape.

Coast added a body wash, Coast The Eye Opener! body soap, in 12-oz. and 18-oz. sizes. The invigorating scent opens the eyes and leaves the consumer feeling fresh and clean, according to Dial Corp. executives.

Procter & Gamble has been busy too. Zest bar soap is now available in a variety of scents including Aqua Pure, Rainforest, Energy Rush, Wild Sensations, Citrus Sport and Fiesta Splash. The advertising for Zest’s newest fragrances tap into the emotional needs of consumers with such descriptions as “With Wild Sensations, the world is yours” and “(Energy Rush has) an invigorating, fresh scent that makes you feel like the sky’s the limit.”

The Andrew-Jergens Company, Cincinnati, is updating its Bioré products: the brand, best known for its breakthrough Pore strips, has crossed over into cleansers. “We’re coming out with new daily cleansers,” revealed Maria Mancabelli, Bioré brand manager, Andrew Jergens. “We don’t skin type; we believe that whether our customers have dry, oily or combination skin, the majority are still seeking the basics.” For example, “Many consumers have pore-related concerns. So we’re bringing them solutions for that.”

The company is also working on a restage of its familiar and still best-selling products, with “dynamic breakthrough packaging and great fragrance, like what you get in prestige brands, but at a great value to the consumer,” Ms. Mancabelli said.

Though it’s more economically priced than some prestige brands, Bioré offers more than the standard cleanser, according to company executives.

“Consumers are looking for not just a basic cleansing, but a cleansing that helps give them a more refined appearance,” Ms. Mancabelli pointed out. “We offer cleansers with superior innovation and ingredients that deliver great results. They’re not just your basic clean-your-face-and-go items.” A unique innovation from Bioré is the Self-Heating masque for a deep-down clean. “Anyone can do a basic cleansing,” she said, “but getting those pores clean, that’s a deep, refreshing clean. That’s what we all want: to be fresh, clean, fun, beautiful. That’s what Bioré has always been about.”

Aubrey Organics’ bar soaps sport individualized benefits, natural ingredients and catchy names.

Facing Off
That’s not to say Andrew Jergens doesn’t have some stiff competition. Pond’s and Dove are just two other major brands that go a little deeper when it comes to personal cleansing products.

Dove Gentle Exfoliating Beauty bar and Dove Gentle Exfoliating Moisturizing body wash cleanse the consumer from head to toe. The products are specially formulated with small, soft, smooth blue beads, combining the brand’s moisturizers with gentle exfoliation.

Dove body washes hit the market in the U.S. in 1995 and quickly achieved the status as the No. 1 brand in the category, according to Unilever executives. “Dove is a $2.2 billion global brand with an outstanding record of successful innovation launches,” a company spokesperson said.

Dove Gentle Exfoliating Beauty bar and Gentle Exfoliating Moisturizing body wash were launched in stores in July. The Beauty bar retails for $4.29 for a two-bar pack, $4.29 for a four-bar pack, $5.89 for a six-bar pack and $7.29 for an eight-bar pack. The body wash sells for $3.99 for 12-oz., $4.99 for 18-oz. and $5.99 for 24-oz.

Unilever also stands at the ready with updates and new formulations for its 100-years-strong Pond’s brand. “Pond’s is dedicated to developing products that meet the needs of consumers in their everyday lives,” said Lisa Gruberger, Ponds’ communication manager. “Using world-class technology and consumer insights, Pond’s will continue to deliver superior products, just as they have for over 100 years.”

One such new product is Pond’s Deep Cleanser and Make-up Remover with cucumber extract. The product combines the deep cleansing and moisturizing benefits of Pond’s cold cream with cucumber extract in a restaged, lighter, non-greasy formula, company executives said.

The new variant was created by the Pond’s Institute to appeal to a younger audience that looks for products with lighter formulas and scents. The cleanser retails in 6.5-oz., 7-oz. and 10.1-oz. containers at price points ranging from $5.99-8.39. “It is important to the Pond’s consumer that products clean without drying the skin, and leave the skin radiant,” added Ms. Gruberger. “Pond’s is committed to meeting consumer needs in 2004 launches and beyond.”

Nature Girl
The same big names held the most market share in 2002-2003, but as marketing data shows, it was the specialty segment that comparatively grew the most.

Natural ingredients have become so popular among consumers and so economically accessible to formulators that even the natural-products segment had to go the extra mile to make an impact on the consumer.

Aroma Naturals, Irvine, CA, developed a Bath and Shower gel that is sulfate-free, using only mild and gentle surfactants, according to company executives. “The product has no artificial color or synthetic fragrance, either,” added Tina Rocca-Lundstrom, president and founder, Aroma Naturals. “It’s very, very gentle and can even be used on kids.”

The product’s fragrance comes from essential oils. Four variants are available. Tranquility contains lavender and tangerine essential oils; Spontaneity, with grapefruit and mandarin, is a tart, fresh citrus; Synergy, which contains ginger, is warm and spicy and Vitality, with rosemary and mint, is invigorating and energizing.

The products complement lines based on the four scents that include vegetable-based soaps and a unique foaming face scrub that derives its deep green color from natural chlorophyll. “The products contain certified organic extracts,” Ms. Rocca Lundstrom said. “They are wonderful, all plant-based, very emollient and not drying to the skin.”

The company plans a January launch of another complementary item, Salt rub, with 8% shea butter and 3% essential oils.

“Those are a very high percentages,” Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom said, “and the scrub is preservative-free and contains the same certified organic extracts that we use throughout the product line.”

Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom was quick to point out that the products are not for mass, but “I think mass should be more conscious of what they’re using; for instance, they should look into using gentle, sulfate-free formulas,” she advised. “I find that our consumers are really looking for a healthier alternative to what’s out there.”

Bradford Looks at the Future of Personal Cleansing
Want to gaze into the future of personal cleansing? Then lose the crystal ball and look into what’s happening at Bradford Soap Works, West Warwick, RI. A couple years back, Bradford transitioned itself from a company that reacts to trends in the market to one that anticipates them. Now, Bradford is going a step further by identifying the trends that will have an impact on personal cleansing formulations years before they hit the store shelves.

“It’s an evolution on what we started two years ago,” explained John Howland, president of Bradford. “We’re able to look forward, 12 to 24 months down the road, to help our customers understand what they should be selling a couple of years from now.”

To help its customers get a handle on the future, Bradford works with Peclers Paris, a global consulting firm, to help identify key consumer trends. At the recent HBA show in New York, Bradford executives detailed the four big lifestyle trends that will have an impact on everything from food to fashion to yes, even soap, in 2004:

• Natural Luxe. Luxury with a more casual feeling, that combines comfort with ease of style. Bradford interprets the trend with monochromatic soaps and cleansers that are heavily influenced by woods and nuts and boast natural fragrances and additives.

• Cosmogenesis. Bradford describes it as “science infused with spirituality.” For personal cleansing applications, it translates into luminous soaps with metallic glow, soaps infused with unusual swirls of color and metallic streaks and cleansing muds that leave a subtle shimmer on the skin.

• Kawai. The word means “cute” in Japanese. The trend is characterized by wide-eyed optimism and cheerfulness. Bradford’s take on the Kawai trend includes brightly colored soaps with unexpected shapes and textures that can be scented with natural fruits and infused with vitamins and antioxidants.

• Modern Romantic. The key idea here is updating the traditional romantic look to reflect the active lifestyle of the modern woman. Bradford insists it’s gracious living that’s more casual and simple. To capture the Modern Romantic theme, Bradford has created soap products with garden-inspired fragrances and additives, in peach, pink and mauve shades.

“These trends can last up to two years,” explained Sue Jonas, president of Davannah Associates, Francestown, NH. Ms. Jonas provides marketing and product development services to Bradford Soap Works. “We have a great R&D team that can take these ideas and create novel personal cleansing products.”

Advanced R&D Efforts
Leading that R&D team is Edmund George, vice president of technical services. In recent years, the R&D staff has developed a variety of techniques to create unique cleansing products. For example, Bradford’s Eco-Ex soap base contains 60-70% natural oil blends that have beneficial effects on the skin. Bradford’s Tuscany blend contains saponified hazelnut, walnut, almond and coconut oil, while the Polynesian blend contains saponified kukui nut, macadamia, almond and coconut oil.

Children’s products benefit from Bradford’s novel chemistry, too. The company’s fruit scented Soap Putty contains a high level of emollients that keep the product soft and malleable throughout its shelf life.

Kawai is one of Bradford Soap Works’ four trends.

Bradford also has several manufacturing techniques to create novel products. Using a proprietary striation technology, the company can create a soap bar that delivers two distinct skin care benefits. For example, soaps within the Spa Stripe line may contain skin softening pecan oil as well as skin rejuvenating sandalwood oil.

That same striation technology is combined with a tinted translucent vegetable base and reflective particles to create an array of soaps with wood-like appearance.

Clearly, Braford offers a wide array of products, techniques and services to forward-thinking personal care executives who are willing to let their creativity run a little wild. “Creativity is the new currency,” insisted Ms. Jonas. “It lets marketers move soap from a commodity to an art form.”

Natural Leaders
The best-known names in natural-based personal care are pulling out all the stops, too. Aubrey Organics, a 36-year-old company, recently introduced old-fashioned body bars with fun new twists. The packaging is “minimal, but very cool in a neo-hippie, ‘whole-foods’ kind of way,” a company spokesperson said.

Aubrey’s offerings include G’Day Eucalyptus bath bar, which is invigorating and deodorizing; Meal & Herbs Exfoliation Skin Care bar, with oat, almond and walnut meals; Rosa Mosqueta Moisturizing cleansing bar and a variety of natural oil-containing bars to suit every skin care need. For the holidays, the bars will be available in miniature sizes as gift sets, according to Aubrey Organics executives.

Crabtree & Evelyn offers Hand Recovery for softer, smoother hands. Hand Recovery is applied to dry hands and massaged into both skin and cuticles. The product is then rinsed off. It produces a gentle, warming sensation, according to company executives, who recommend that Hand Recovery be used three or four times a week for optimal cleansing and caring benefits.

Bath & Body Works, based in Reynoldsburg, OH, launched Pure Simplicity, a line that utilizes natural ingredients in a technologically advanced way, according to company executives.

“(For the new line) Bath & Body Works has used a new patented process titled ‘unitanicals,’” said Dana Harrell, assistant merchandising manager, Bath & Body Works Pure Simplicity brand. “This technology penetrates beyond the cell wall deep into the heart of the plant, extracting the naturally potent essences of water and oil extracts at the core, without the use of harsh solvents.”

In facial cleansers, consumers look for a product in terms of ingredients, performance and price, and “this is how we’ve positioned our facial cleansers,” she said. “Our ingredient-based line offers cleansers based on skin type: rice for normal skin, oat for oily skin and milk thistle for dry skin.”

Consumers look for gentle, effective natural cleansers in treating skin on both face and body, Ms. Harrell said. “While we offer both the liquid cleanser and bar soap in the body category to suit either preference, we see a bigger consumer interest in the body cleansers as opposed to the bars.”

Cleansers are the latest addition to the Bioré brand lineup.

Just What the Doctor Ordered
Dermatologist-developed or recommended cleansers have soared in popularity in recent years. Cleansers that contain cosmeceuticals are within reach of the average consumer, though they come at a steeper-than-average price. But for their multibeneficial and skin-caring or healing properties, they’re worth it, according to marketers.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone introduced nutritive cleansers for all skin care needs. Vitamin C Ester Citrus facial wash is mild, protective from environmental damage and helps to repair visible signs of aging, according to company executives. It retails for $25 for 6-oz.

Other offerings in the Dr. Perricone line include Nutritive cleanser with alpha lipoic acid, an anti-inflammatory product that helps eliminate redness and blotchiness, and Olive Oil Polyphenols Gentle cleanser with hydroxytyrisol for delicate skin. They retail for $30 for 6-oz. and $35 for 6-oz., respectively. The products are available at Sephora, Nordstrom, Henri Bendel, Clydes, select Nieman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue stores.

Staying Fresh
Whether mass, class or niche, all cleansers can benefit from a periodic face lift, according to industry experts contacted by Happi.

Jergens, a trusted name for decades, is “becoming more and more a beauty-oriented brand,” said Ms. Mancabelli. “We’re bridging the gap and bringing a much more beauty-oriented look, feel and fragrance to the mass and grocery channels.”

Ponds’ time-tested products are frequently updated to advance with the times. The company relies on its longstanding reputation among consumers, while at the same time adding new products or tweaking formulations for better performance.

“Pond’s was the first to launch cold cream, pre-moistened towelettes and 8% alpha hydroxy acids in mass products,” Ms. Gruberger said, adding, “The Pond’s consumer trusts and depends on the brand to deliver gentle, efficacious products at affordable prices.”

And while niche items currently promise the next wave of growth, marketers must be careful in how they plug their products, according to Ms. Rocca-Lundstrom. For instance, “false labelling is a big problem and a challenge in the beauty industry right now,” she said. “If a product contains natural ingredients, does it contain synthetics, too? And what percentage of that ‘natural’ ingredient is really in there? Consumers are smarter than ever. They come to us because they know we’re (Aroma Naturals) the essential oil experts. That’s our main area, so they trust us.”

Whether marketers’ efforts will clean up sales remains to be seen. But industry professionals agree that if companies are willing to explore new avenues, there’s still plenty of room for growth in this longstanding segment.

Looking for a new ingredient to incorporate into your personal cleanser? A list of them can be found on p. 88 in the print version of Happi.