All of the Big 5 countries had a successful year when it came to bathroom products. All of them posted gains in value terms and although launch pace was slow in some areas, the sector seems to have kept its head well above water.
It must be said that the definite slowdown in launch activity seems to be a direct result of the credit crunch. Many companies seemed to have shelved plans for new rollouts or simply added a line extension product onto the market rather than risking their necks with any big money activity.
On the other hand, perhaps they were just biding their time until 2010 swung round before they showed their true plans. With reports that the market is improving, this may have been a sensible move.
Having said that, all countries did report growth, some more slender than others but market stalwart France, seemed to have come up smelling especially rosy if data is anything to go by. According to data from AC Nielsen, the French bathroom products market had a good start to 2009, as shower products alone had a value growth of 2.7%, a vast improvement on the previous year, which posted no growth at all. Mintel meanwhile has estimated that the category is now worth $984 million with the average growth standing at just under 1% overall. September and October 2009 were particularly fortuitous as the sector grew 9% during the two-month period.
Despite the economic slowdown, personal cleanser sales are strong in much of Europe
Taking It Easy
Although launch pace was definitely slower in 2009, this did not seem to affect the German bathroom products sector. IRI Germany reported that sales rose 1.1% to $980 million during the first nine months of 2009. Volume sales were up 0.7% to more than 183 million liters.
German favorite Beiersdorf rolled out two lines for women this year under its Nivea umbrella. Nivea’s Crème Oil Shower Diamond Touch contains micro fine particles of diamond with a white calla lily scent. The product was designed so that cash-strapped consumers can still enjoy a bit of luxury during these tough times. There is also an accompanying Crème Oil Bath and Diamond Touch Crème Soap that is said to offer long-lasting moisturizing benefits and leave skin shimmering and glistening. And the very newest addition to Nivea’s bathroom stable is Water Lily & Oil Shower Gel, which the company calls a unique combination of care and freshness. The product contains golden oil particles that burst when they come into contact with the skin. The shower gel leaves the skin with a subtle shimmer and has a water lily and rose scent.
Staying Afloat in Italy
The Italian bathroom products market managed to stay just about afloat in 2008, according to Unipro. Sector sales totalled $1.1 billion with bath and shower items, including salts and oils, accounting for $673 million of this total. When it came to new products, there was a fair amount of activity with Unilever’s Dove brand leading the charge. With a focus on mature skin, Dove added to its Dove Pro Age range, which has been a hit in the country. Targeting women in their late 40s and 50s, new Pro Age Beauty Cream Bar is said to be ideal both for the body and face while new Dove Pro Age Bagnodoccia di Bellezza is a shower gel said to facilitate skin cell renewal. Meanwhile Borotalco (Manetti & Roberts) also focused on transforming the daily shower in a proper beauty experience for the skin. Its new Borotalco Silk Care range includes a shower gel and a bath wash enriched with pure extracts of silk and with a fragrance of rose and amber.
Making a Splash
While other categories have been affected badly by the Spanish recession, the bathroom products sector seems to have come up squeaky clean. Results from AC Nielsen for the first nine months of last year showed that value sales rose 1.8% to $357 million, while volume sales put in an even more impressive performance, adding 2.4% to 89.1 million liters.
Spanish consumers are very into spa-themed bathroom products. Tapping into the popularity of the spa experience, Spanish company Natural Honey introduced a bath gel variant to its range of natural products whose ingredients are based on oat extracts, green, red and white tea, honey, ginseng and moisturizing almond oil. Natural Honey Instant Body Milk is designed to penetrate, moisturize and nourish the skin while leaving it feeling silky smooth.
Thinking Outside the Box
Meanwhile, the UK bathroom products market has also managed to buck the credit crunch, and through a mixture of high launch activity and innovative marketing campaigns, was worth $894 million in the first 11 months of last year, down about 1% from the same period in 2008. Meanwhile, volume growth was even more robust, putting on a very healthy 5.8% to exceed 482 million packs, according to data from TNS Worldpanel.
UK marketers obviously know the benefit of ad campaigns to attract consumers during times when their purse strings are tightening. Radox, for example, has focused on trying to get women aged 25-44 to take time out for bathing and pampering. The $7 million “Be Selfish” campaign began in June and will run until the middle of this year. It focuses predominately on the brand identity itself, rather than the products, although this will be subliminally communicated. A website, www.be-selfish.co.uk, is dedicated to the campaign, while a television advert urges women to take an hour a day to pamper themselves.
On the whole, manufacturers seem to be thinking outside the box when it comes to attracting consumers to this somewhat utilitarian of categories. It is true that bathroom products are considered more essential than luxury items, which may explain why value sales increased in a difficult year. That bodes well for 2010 if some real thought and investments are given to the sector.