Its a Wash

November 9, 2009

Shower gels give a boost to the personal cleanser market, as sales rise 5% in 2009.

It’s a Wash

Shower gels give a boost to the personal cleanser market, as sales rise 5% in 2009.

Melissa Meisel
Associate Editor

From overbooked executives to hypersocial teens, a quick bath or shower is an uncomplicated way to de-compress at home after a long day or primp for that Friday night party. Therefore, bar soaps, shower gels and even hand cleansers are must-have items for Recessionistas whittling down priority shopping due to the economy. Plus, with the global threat of H1N1 influenza, a thorough handwashing is recommended by health officials as a paramount defense against the bug.

Total sales of the soap category rose 5% to $1.9 billion for the year ended Sept. 6, 2009 in supermarkets, drugstores and mass-market retailers excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), a Chicago, IL-based market research firm. This includes deodorant bar soap, which increased 1.8% to $238.3 million; non-deodorant bar soap, which climbed 4.8% to $521.7 million; liquid hand soap, which jumped 3.9% to $330.9 million; and liquid body wash, which rose 5.2% to $743.4 million.

U.S. consumers continue to migrate from bar soap to liquid soap and body wash despite higher prices, noted Virginia Lee, a senior research analyst with market research firm Euromonitor International, also in Chicago.
“Liquid soap and body wash is considered to be both more convenient and to offer more benefits than bar soap,” she said, adding that retail sales of bath and shower products grew nearly 2% in 2008 to reach $4.9 billion.

“There is a global movement toward body washes and more upscale products,” agreed Nancy Mills, industry manager, consumer products, Kline & Company, Little Falls, NJ. “Products such as body washes and, to a lesser extent, bar soaps have become increasingly sophisticated, offering various benefits such as skin care properties starting with moisturization, exfoliation and going as far as offering anti-aging benefits. There is also a trend toward offering skin firming and cellulite reduction features, and there is an increasing number of spa-inspired products entering the market.”


Innovative Formulations

Apart from basic cleansing, the shower is an emotional and experiential place for consumers— particularly for women, noted Srini Sripada, brand director, Unilever, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

“This is often her only ‘me’ time and she likes to experiment and try new products and fragrances depending on her mood,” he told Happi.“The key benefits she seeks from a body wash are first, fragrance and second, moisturization. These are also the key reasons a consumer chooses body wash over bar soap—she is looking for a small treat in her day.”

Clinique taps the personal cleanser market with its new Deep Comfort Body Wash out this month.
Body washes targeting those with sensitive skin were a big trend for 2009. For example, Axe—which leads the liquid body wash category with $52.1 million in sales, according to IRI—is helping guys “embrace their soft side” with the new dermatologist-tested Axe Sensitive Shower Gel. According to the company, the new pH neutral formula is enriched with cucumber and milk protein for a gentle clean. The SKU joins Axe’s Skin Contact line, which features hydrating and smoothing shower formulations.

Suave also rolled out its Kids Free and Gentle 2 in 1, a new multi-action cleanser for both hair and skin. This summer, the brand launched Kids Free and Gentle Body Wash that contains no dyes. All Suave Kids products are tear-free and ophthalmologist-tested, according to the company.

Clinique—known for its allergy-tested, fragrance-free products—is debuting Deep Comfort Body Wash this month. According to the company, this cream mousse formulation gently cleanses even the driest skin without stripping it of natural moisture. It contains glycerin and sodium hyaluronate to provide long-term moisturization.

Moisturizing body wash formulations are also in demand for 2009. One of the biggest rollouts of the season was the Dove Body Wash collection featuring NutriumMoisture. According to the company, NutriumMoisture combines the benefits of DEFI (Directly Esterified Fatty Isethionate) technology found in the classic Dove Beauty Bar with a new moisturizing complex. It contains mild cleansers such as sodium lauroyl isethionate, the main cleansing component that reduces protein damage during cleansing, as well as soybean oil and glycerin to moisturize. The body wash is available in Deep Moisture, Sensitive Skin and Gentle Exfoliating variations.

This season, Colgate-Palmolive launched Softsoap Nutri Serums body wash range, the first body wash to be infused with nutrient rich softening serum pearls and vitamin E, according to the company.

Also in the body wash category, Beiersdorf added Nivea for Men’s Active 3, an innovative three-in-one shower agent combining body wash, shampoo and shaving gel in one bottle, as well as Nivea A Touch of Sparkle cream oil body wash, billed as a silky cream-gel with sparkling diamond powder. The lathering formula is enriched with a blossom scent. This product goes up against Olay’s Body Wash Plus Tone Enriching Ribbons—touted by Procter & Gamble as the only body wash with an actual ribbon of mineral shimmer.

Hand Wash Guest Stars and Lands Permanent Role

Target’s special edition products are a novel way to generate interest in
the mass marketplace with a limited time span on the store shelves. Looking for a way to roll out and test new fragrances in its line of hand wash offerings, Method jumped on board with the concept. This summer, the company launched a limited edition fragrance, mandarin mango.

According to Method, the fragrance has been so successful it will add mandarin mango to its permanent lineup of hand washes. It joins the collection of triclosan-free formulations available in scents such as cucumber, French lavender, pink grapefruit, sweet water and sea mineral, to name a few.

More info: www.methodhome.com
“Women are looking for a body wash that not only deeply moisturizes the skin, but also leaves skin tone looking its best,” said Jessica Hansman, Olay brand manager, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH. “Olay Body Wash plus Tone Enriching Ribbons delivers both benefits with an actual ribbon of mineral shimmer along with deep moisture to hydrate the skin and enhance its tone, leaving skin with a beautiful, radiant finish.”

The formula contains two separate phases: a cleansing “ribbon” and a moisturizing “ribbon.” These ribbons sit side by side, but do not interact until they are mixed with water. Once activated, the cleansing ribbon carries the moisturizing ribbon, which contains the skin enriching mineral shimmer, allowing it to wrap skin with a hydrating glow, according to the company.

Fruits and floral were also body wash buzzwords in 2009. With the link to health and the notion that sweet scents appeal to a wide range of consumers, infusions from berry to rose are headlining product rollouts this year.

“Sweet, floral and exotic fragrances are being used in soaps and body washes as more consumers look toward these products to escape stress and take time to indulge,” said Dr. Florian Wolf, vice president of research and development at Jurlique, Australia, which has rolled out a new jasmine shower gel. According to Dr. Wolf, the formulation cleanses and moisturizes the skin with a blend of coconut oil and sugar cane, but also has the added therapeutic and calming benefit from the natural fragrance of jasmine and sweet violet that consumers crave.

Ahava’s new Mineral Botanic line is a collection of seven luxuriously “flower inspired” cream washes that deliver the benefits of Dead Sea minerals and nourishing organic plant extracts, according to the company. Formulations range from Orange & Frangipani, Hibiscus & Fig to Lotus & Chestnut.
Dr. Bronner’s—known for its multi-purpose castile soaps—is also bulking up its offerings with shikakai liquid hand soaps in exotic scents such as lemongrass lime.

In the mass market, Suave is adding on to its best-selling Naturals lineup ($31.4 million in 2009, according to IRI) with a new Wild Cherry Blossom Indulgent Body Wash.Dial and Tone also rolled out Dial Antioxidant Body Wash with Cranberry & Antioxidant Pearls and Tone Antioxidant Body Wash with Blueberry & Vitamins, respectively. Both products provide dual ingredient benefits to help achieve younger, healthy looking skin, according to the company.

“Beauty consumers are looking for fresh ingredients and scents inspired by nature to help them achieve a healthy glow. Popular ingredients this year include blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries, as they are considered to be super-fruits with strong antioxidant and vitamin power,” said Jasmin Manner, vice president of personal care for The Dial Corporation, Phoenix, AZ.

The Body Shop is also looking to whisk shoppers away to a remote island with its coconut bath and body range. Designed for normal to dry skin, the line is packed with active natural ingredients and contains organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil, sourced for the first time from the pacific islands of Samoa, according to the company. The range features everything from a shower cream to hand wash. For Holiday 2009, The Body Shop is offering the Nutmeg & Vanilla Collection, reminiscent of home-baked treats.

Lush’s 13 Soap—Unlucky for Dirt is infused with oregano to keep germs at bay.
Philosophy—well-known for its 3-in-1 shampoo/shower gel/bubble bath products—is also getting cozy with The Cookbook, six “recipe-inspired” cleansers (pumpkin spice, red velvet, hot cocoa, warm pear cobbler, gingerbread and cinnamon buns) in a gift set.

Soaps Raise the Bar

Even as sales of shower gels and scrubs climb, the classic bar soap offers a novel way to clean in its own way with new and exciting fragrances and textures. Deodorant variants such as Irish Spring ($49 million in sales for 2009, said IRI), Lever 2000 ($36.2 million) and Dial Clean and Refresh ($34 million) lead the way in the soap category; while classics such as Dove bar soap ($197.7 million) and Ivory ($32.7 million) lead in the non-deodorant category.

One way to garner interest is to revamp or expand your brand. For example, popular kids’ cleanser Mr. Bubble is getting a makeover this year. The iconic bubble bath, which is now owned by The Village Company (TVC) of Chaska, MN, even has some new sister products, including Mr. Bubble Foam Soap. In addition, Mr. Bubble has received pediatrician approval.

“The purchase of Mr. Bubble has been a great acquisition for TVC,” said Frank Klisanich, president and chief executive officer. “It is a recognized brand that we have reenergized and given some much needed attention and innovation.”

Another pink product reaching out to a different segment—those looking to support Breast Cancer Awareness—is from Avon. The company rolled out Breast Cancer Crusade Moisturizing Bar Soap last month. According to the company, this gentle and moisturizing glycerin-based soap is ideal for face and body and features a refreshing grapefruit fragrance.

Natural formulations are all the rage this year—thanks to the growing green trend, which shows no sign of slowing in 2010. Portico re-launched its spa range, the first phase of the company’s re-emergence as an eco-friendly brand catering to the beauty/spa and home markets. The range features everything from body washes to exfoliating bath bars and is available in three signature scents: soothing Cucumber + Grapefruit—light, crisp and clean; invigorating Blood Orange + Jasmine—fresh, zesty and sweet; and seductive Amber + Olivewood—rich, sensual and exotic.

Earth Therapeutics is also banking on exfoliators to liven up its bath and body range. The brand recently rolled out a “loofah-and-soap-in-one” product. The glycerine-based bar soap is available in Aloe Vera & Kiwi, Oatmeal & Honey and Peaches & Passion. Going back to basics, the 30-year-old Molton Brown brand is also launching an exfoliating oatmeal bar soap in response to the demand from its popular hotel line. According to the company, the texture gently helps to smooth the hands and body, while a creamy lather helps to soften, soothe and rebalance as it cleans.

Herbs and floral extracts also played a key role in novel bar soap formulations in 2009. Lush, a purveyor of natural bath and body products, just released its 13 Soap–Unlucky for Dirt. According to the company, this oregano-infused bar was created after nurses recognized the spice’s ability to kill germs fast and efficiently. An infusion of rose petals along with Manuka honey pampers the skin.

The Body Shop’s latest range is Nutmeg and Vanilla, which is available in a shower gel, body scrub or bath bar.
Lush also recently rolled out Noubar—a bar soap that looks just like a candy nougat—features crushed pistachios, chopped peanuts, almonds and walnuts for an exfoliating scrub.

In response to enthusiastic consumer support of its Rose Petal Bar Soap, One With Nature, a line of 100% natural Dead Sea salt-based skin care products, added a body wash and hand wash to its range.

Thymes, another bath and body brand, rolled out Kimono Rose soaps this past season. The rosy range was blended with peony and jasmine petals for a unique fragrance formulation and features moisturizing magnolia bark extract.For Winter 2009, the brand just released the Naia collection, which features triple-milled soaps scented with water lily and cyclamen aromas balanced with subtle hints of citrus and lychee extracts.

Future Focus on Personal Cleansers

Retail sales of bath and shower products are predicted to grow at much slower rates between 2008-2013 than during the 2003-2008 period, noted Ms. Lee of Euromonitor.

“While consumer demand for liquid soap and body washes is expected to grow, the level of growth will slow down, as these products have achieved higher levels of household penetration,” she said.

As a result, sales of bath and shower products are forecast to grow by a total of 2% in constant value terms over the forecast period, down from the 7% constant value growth of the review period.

Body washes and shower gels are predicted to be the fastest growing subsector, with a 15% gain between 2008 and 2013 to total $2.1 billion, said Ms. Lee. Liquid soaps are expected to be the second fastest growing subsector between 2008 and 2013, growing by 13% to reach $879 million.

Natural ingredients, mild fragrances and added benefits will ensure that body wash use will continue to increase and consumers will continue to shift away from basic bar soaps, said Ms. Mills at Kline.

Global Soap Project Looks to Make the World A Cleaner Place—One Bar of Soap at a Time

The Global Soap Project (GSP) is joining with UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Bank, USAID and others to draw attention to the importance of handwashing. How? By recovering and recycling discarded soap from hotels using a process by which the bars are sanitized, melted and remolded into new soaps; then distributed to refugee camps in Africa, initially, and then worldwide.

According to the GSP, there is a huge supply of soap with more than 4.6 million hotel rooms in the United States alone, and an estimated 2.6 million bars that are discarded every day. GSP has collected nearly six tons of soap from 60 local Atlanta, GA hotels and plans to ship the soap to Uganda this month.

More info: soaproject@aol.com. Donations may be mailed to: Global Soap Project, P.O. Box 94021,Atlanta GA 30318
Anti-aging products and those designed for mature skin will be the focus of new product activity in the forecast period. All in all, it could be those niche markets that truly clean up in the category.

Some see scent stories as the next big thing. According to Mr. Sripada at Unilever, “While floral fragrances were popular in 2009, citrus scents have recently experienced a growth in consumer interest (up 8% versus a year ago). Suave Naturals body wash will launch a new scent in 2010 called Mango Mandarin. We can also expect earthy and natural ingredients to influence body wash innovation.”

Mr. Sripada added that moisturization is likely to grow due to technological improvements that deliver on superior skin health.

Customizing products for consumers with busy lifestyles will continue into 2010. According to Ms. Manner at The Dial Corporation, as women continue to look for products that adapt to fit within their on-the-go lifestyles, marketers can expect to see more multiple benefit products that offer at-home treatments.

“These treatments give women the ability to indulge in small pick-me-ups that fit within their schedules while also offering the dual benefits they require to keep their skin healthy and moisturized. In 2010, we can expect dual benefit products offered at affordable prices to meet the cost conscience consumers’ needs,” she said.

And isn’t that the secret to most products’ success?
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