Sink or Swim?

By Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor | November 10, 2011

Marketers try to boost sales of bar soaps and body washes with innovative ingredients, alluring packaging and savvy campaigns.

Even though some household budgets may be tighter these days, consumers are staying loyal to their tried-and-true bath and body products—as evidenced by the maintenance of the personal cleanser category in the marketplace. After all, fashion photographer Cecil Beaton once said, “What is elegance? Soap and water.” Being clean never goes out of style. But it takes more than the basic function of freshening up to move a product from store shelf to shopping bag.

According to data from SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm, soap sales at FDMx outlets (excluding Walmart) rose 1.5% to $2.1 billion for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 4, 2011.
Deodorant bar soap sales fell 8% to $169.4 million, even with large contributions from leading brands Irish Spring and Dial; while sales of non-deodorant bar soaps like Dove and Ivory rose 3% to $568 million. Hand sanitizer sales, mostly consisting of private label brands, plunged 35% to $92.7 million, while heavy-duty hand cleaners like Lava fell 12% to $3.4 million. Liquid body washes, led by Axe and Suave, rose 9% to $917.4 million; liquid hand soap, driven by Softsoap sales, increased 3% to $363.6 million. Bath product (bath fragrances/bubble bath) sales rose 6% to $60.1 million.


Vitabath body washes are back for 2011 with a new look and revitalized formulations.

Innovations in the soap, bath and shower product market revolve around a range of product claims, according to market research firm Mintel in its report, Soap, Bath & Shower Products 2011. For example, natural/organic positioning is a key market trend, with brands offering exotic ingredients such as arnica, milk thistle and seaweed. Multifunctional products, such as Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Crazy for Love 3-in-1 skin and hair wash, are also trending higher in 2011.

Extra moisturizing is also popular. For example, Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Deep Moisture body wash is said to feature seven intensive moisturizers, softening conditioners, healing aloe and skin-nurturing vitamins, according to Mintel. And, vitamin-infused products seek to leverage the health and wellness trend in the 2011 market, such as Jafra Beauty Rituals Ancient Cleansing Oil, which is said to be “elaborated” with vitamins.

Accompanying the trend toward using active ingredients within the soap and shower product is the “enabling” delivery system, according to Anna Ibbotson, industry manager, chemicals and materials, Kline & Company. In short, it’s all about millicapsules.

“Millicapsules are large enough to be seen in clear formulations and are primarily used to achieve a perceived marketing advantage by selling a product (for example, a shampoo or body wash) that contains suspended colored balls,” she told Happi. “Several colors can be displayed in a product and this enables the finished product to stand out in retail displays and shelving, therefore attracting consumers through this instant eye appeal.”

In the Wash

Bar soap sales are weak as consumers continue to switch from this form to higher-priced body washes, according to Nancy Mills, industry manager consumer products practice, Kline & Company, Houston, TX.

“The body wash category is leading some interesting product innovations such as delivering new and interesting fragrance experiences as well as providing skin benefits such as moisturization,” agreed Rob Candelino, US marketing director, personal wash, Unilever. “Packaging is absolutely an important factor in the consumer purchase decision.”

In 2011, Suave introduced a line of new Creamy Body Washes including Suave Naturals Creamy Apricot & Orange Blossom Exfoliating Body Wash, which helps remove dull looking skin while gently exfoliating, Suave Naturals Creamy Cocoa Butter & Shea Body Wash and Suave Naturals Creamy Milk & Honey Splash Body Wash. Its newest fragrances are holiday-themed.

Also in mass and touted as being infused with fragrances that will indulge the senses at half of the price of the leading specialty brand, the Olay Body Collection from P&G features three scent stories encapsulated in both bar soaps and body washes. Variations include Luscious Embrace, enriched with jojoba butter and crushed orchid extract; Silk Whimsy, featuring rose extract and almond oil; and Purely Pristine, infused with seaweed extract and mineral crystals.

St. Ives is also bulking up its bath and body offerings with tropical-infused SKUs. Recent launches include St. Ives Triple Butters Creamy Vanilla Body Wash, St. Ives Triple Butters Creamy Coconut Body Wash and St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Body Wash and Scrub.

At J&J, both Clean & Clear and Aveeno have exotic takes on their personal cleanser products. Clean & Clear Morning Burst Body Wash is now available in Boost, a mango and papaya combination; Charge, a pomegranate and lemon zest blend; and Splash, which uses wildberry and guava. Meanwhile, Aveeno’s Positively Nourishing Body Wash features Blackberry + Vanilla and White Peach + Ginger variations.

“There has been an increased awareness for incorporating natural-based items into everyday lifestyles—from food ingredients to beauty products. Bearing that insight in mind, anything with fruit extracts, plant-derived ingredients and other antioxidants have been extremely popular in the marketplace recently,” said Warren Wallo, director of scientific engagement, research & development, Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products Worldwide, Skillman, NJ.

Another popular body wash brand is poised for a comeback this year. Vitabath returns to the market at retail outlets such as Ulta, Ricky’s Beauty, Harmon Drugs and Bed Bath & Beyond, Ulta Cosmetics with four fragrance profiles. Spa Day, In Bloom, Fruit Fanatic and Cupcake Couture are all sulfate- and paraben-free body washes featuring a blend of vitamins A, B3, C, E, pro-Vitamin B5 and antioxidant-rich superfruits to pamper skin exposed to autumn’s colder, dry air.

“Antioxidant-rich superfruits are popping up in grocery stores and beauty aisles all over the country. Savvy consumers concerned with health and aging are interested in how these ingredients can improve the overall condition of their skin,” Richard Neill, chief executive officer, Vitabath, Atlanta, GA told Happi. “We noticed this trend and therefore included açai berry, goji, noni, pomegranate, mangosteen, coffee fruit and green tea extract in our new fragrance collection.”

Meanwhile, Bath & Body Works is hitting the “fast forward” button to 2012 with Live, Love, Celebrate—a trio of new fragrances to its Signature collection that captures the season’s most festive elixirs. This holiday, consumers can say cheers with Strawberry Sparkler, Vanillatini and Jingle Bellini scents in a shower gel, among other SKUs.

Axe is bulking up its Fixers collection with two new variations, Cool Metal and Thai Massage.

For the men’s marketplace, Axe is bulking up its Fixers line of shower gels with two new scents for 2011. Made with cooling silver shower gel, fine quartz and zinc, Cool Metal shower gel aims to help guys keep their cool when things heat up, according to the company. In contrast, Thai Massage, made with tigergrass oil and sea salt, merges the scent of ginger and sandalwood to help them relax after a long day.

Sweet, fruity scents are also predominant in shower products this season, according to industry insiders. Janell Holas, senior brand manager, Dial and Dial for Men, bar, body wash and hand sanitizer, Henkel North America, Scottsdale, AZ, told Happi that the company’s Dial Nutriskin portfolio of products leverages the concept of “nutricosmetics.”

“This platform includes our new Dial Nutriskin Replenishing Lotions, as well as our new Dial Nutriskin with 7 BioNutrients White Peach and Shea Butter, available in body wash and bar soap for your daily dose of healthy skin nutrition,” she said. “Dial Nutriskin replenishes your skin by providing essential moisture and nutrients to help keep your skin looking and feeling its healthy, protected, beautiful best.”

A hot ingredient in soap/shower products right now is sugar, noted Glenn Abrahamson, president, One Bath & Body, Carrollton, TX. His company’s Sun Drenched Lemon Sugar Scrub contains sugar and lemon peel oil. The brand, known for its natural ingredients and eco-friendly packaging, recently got picked up for distribution at Ulta, as previously reported in Happi.

“For basic everyday needs, we find the trend going back to natural, vegetable-based soaps which create a nice lather, but most importantly, they wash off cleanly,” he added. “Many machine grade soaps and shower gels leave a residue that is hard to wash off, which may waste water.”

Robin White, director of international programs and global press, Philosophy, Phoenix, AZ, agrees that innovative, effective formulations are the products that move off the shelves.

“One of the hottest trends right now are shower products that take a multi-sensory approach to showering whether it be through ingredients, colors or scent,” she told Happi. “We just relaunched a shower product under our Amazing Grace fragrance franchise that is an olive oil body scrub. It uses naturally-derived exfoliatants, including diatomaceous earth and sea salt, to gently resurface and help soften rough, dry skin. The olive oil in the formula helps replenish lost moisture on your newly rejuvenated skin and the light touch of Amazing Grace fragrance leaves skin feeling clean and beautifully feminine. The color of the formula is creamy and looks so caring for your skin. It truly inspires your senses head-to-toe.”

Raising the Bar

Non-deodorant bar soap sales are on the rise—reaching out to the no-frills consumer who wants a simple sort of clean…or do they? Marketers this season are stepping up to the plate with a variety of exotic ingredients infused into their bar soap SKUs; throwing a curve ball to their shower scrub/body wash counterparts.

“In addition to offering value, which is of great importance in today’s economy, bar soaps appeal to those who prefer the sensorial experience of lathering with a bar soap compared to liquid soap or body wash,” said Jennifer Schweitzer, brand manager, Nature’s Gate, Chatsworth, CA. “They are useful for travelers who appreciate the ease of packing bar soaps in their carry-on luggage. And with their concentrated formulas and compact size, they offer convenience in homes with space constraints around the sink, shower or tub. Their small size also offers environmental benefits in that they require less space during the shipping and warehousing processes, therefore reducing energy use and emissions.”

Nature’s Gate rolled out five bath bars to address the green consumer’s growing demand for this form of soap, according to the company.These vegetable-based, triple-milled cleansing bars feature key ingredients and scents from the brand’s top-selling hair and skin care products. The range includes Pomegranate Sunflower, Aloe Vera, Oatmeal, Tea Tree and Herbal (myrrh and lavender blend) variations, all featuring the brand’s signature “7 Natural Moisture Boosters” including sodium hyaluronate, vegetable glycerin, shea butter, sweet almond oil, vitamin E, apricot kernel oil and soybean oil.

Colgate’s mass market category leader, Softsoap, also recently branched out into bar soaps touting deep cleansing benefits in three invigorating fragrances: Juicy Pomegranate & Mango, Coconut Scrub and Sweet Honeysuckle & Orange Peel.These SKUs complement other Softsoap products, including body washes, Body Butter scrubs and classic liquid hand soaps.

Softsoap is branching out into the bar soap category this season.

SheaMoisture, a natural brand sold at Target, Walgreen’s and Duane Reade, bulked up its bath and body portfolio with the Organic Red Bush & Sage Collection. This line includes an exfoliating sugar scrub, nourishing bar soap and soothing bath treatment. These 100% natural products contain red bush, which is rich in alpha hydroxy acid and zinc to help exfoliate and heal skin; as well as sage, for its antibacterial and calming properties that balance skin functions.

SheaMoisture’s Organic Red Bush & Sage Soap with Egyptian Musk is an organic, nourishing bar soap that contains deeply hydrating certified organic shea butter from a fair trade cooperative in Liberia. This bar soap cleanses away impurities without causing any dryness, tightness or irritation, said the company, which just won a 2011 Esquire Grooming Award for its Men’s Groom Three Butters Utility Soap—another popular bath bar from the line. This all-natural, no-fuss product can be used for body, shampoo or shaving.

“While consumers will always appreciate the convenience and ease-of-use of shower gels, bar soaps are enjoying a Renaissance and making a strong comeback,” noted Richelieu Dennis, founder and chief executive officer of Sundial Creations, makers of the SheaMoisture brand, Amityville, NY.“The palpable and sensory aspect of bar soap—being able to hold it in your hand, smell it and feel it—is attractive to consumers.”

St. Ives’ Naturally Clear body scrub features green tea and salicylic acid.

Seasonal and global trends are also coming into play in the bar soap sector. This fall, indulge in calming relaxation with the Naturally Signature Collection in Golden Maple Sugar—the scent of fresh maple syrup blended with lightly sweetened butter and warm undertones of brown sugar from Upper Canada Soap.

Products in the paraben-, mineral oil- and synthetic dye-free Naturally Signature range include the Moisturizing Bath Soap Bar. Packed with white tea extract, this pampering triple-milled soap protects skin from free radical damage, according to the company. It joins white tea ginger, creamy almond milk and goji berry hemp variations at the company.

And for those looking for a little bit of luxury in a bath bar, C.O. Bigelow stores just added Alighiero Campostrini Italian soaps to its apothecary inventory. Founded in Florence, Italy, Alighiero Campostrini has been carefully creating coveted formulas since 1894. In honor of this legacy, Alighiero Campostrini continues to produce handmade soap with ingredients including vegetable oils, beeswax and glycerin using antique bronze molds.

Each unique Alighiero Campostrini La Florentina bar is housed in a handcrafted keepsake box with designs dating back to the late 19th century. Variations include Medici’s Rose, Lavender and Olive Oil & Tomato Leaf.

A Bubbly Outlook

According to Mintel, the mass market for soap and shower products remains strong, and is expected to grow between 2010 and 2015. Multi-tasking, natural and novel scent variations also will draw consumers to try new personal cleansers in the upcoming year.

Olay offers a spa-like shower experience for an affordable price.

“Increasingly, consumers will prefer using products that can provide beauty benefits, such as anti-aging and skin firming, in addition to the expected moisturizing and cleansing properties,” noted Mills of Kline & Company. “With the recent recession, consumers are more conscious about their spending patterns and choose to spend on products that can offer multiple benefits at a reasonable price.”

“Our research and development teams are always evolving our products for what our consumer is looking for,” said Candelino of Unilever. “We anticipate consumers will continue to look for high quality body wash products with a focus on fragrance and moisture.”

Natural and organic formulations will continue to be in demand, observed Dennis of SheaMoisture. Consumers will also continue to educate themselves on ingredients and read labels with care.

“We’ll also see an increase in multifunctional soaps and washes, such as bar soap that cleanses, tones, brightens and exfoliates skin in one fell swoop,” he said.

“We are continuing to see products taking a natural angle in product development,” noted Neill of Vitabath. “As consumers become more aware of product ingredients, they are creating an increased need for shower and bath products that not only smell and feel great, but that also enhance their overall well-being.”

“The trend of using your shower time to enjoy the ritual of cleansing and incorporating aromatherapy is still very strong,” added White of Philosophy. “Whether you choose clean, fresh, feminine notes or a fun seasonal option in your product, we know that the scent will affect your mood and change the way you face the day.”

A Season for Giving

The holidays are a time when friends and family come together, spirits are soaring and hearts are glowing. Consumers are also shopping…for teachers, hostesses, Secret Santas and other important folks in theirlives. Classic bath and body kits are always a hit. Therefore, personal care marketers are ready to capture their attention, offering innovative scent stories such as frosted plum, peppermint bliss and lemon and petitgrain, to name a few. Here are some exciting offerings for Holiday 2011 at all price points:


• Packed in a ready-to-give box, Philosophy Fun in the Frosty Air ($25) features Sugar Plum Frost, Ginger Berry Frost and Fresh Vanilla Frost 3-in-1 Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Baths in the 6oz size.

More info: www.philosophy.com



• To recall memories of holidays past, when families took the time to be together, Jason offers the new Simple Comforts Limited Edition Pure Natural Gift Sets ($8.95). Featuring vintage scents from 1959, the year Jason was founded, each kit includes a special, limited edition body wash and a bath sponge, responsibly sourced from 100% recyclable materials. The Frosted Plum variation features plum, natural vanilla extracts and pure almond oil.

More info: www.jason-natural.com


• Last Christmas, a handful of Lush employees were sent off around the globe to gather inspiration for this holiday season. They were inspired to create the Jilted Elf ($5.95 100g/$10.95 250g), a shower jelly product crafted from a blend of honey, vodka and fig decoction. Despite its name, this jelly has a warm, uplifting fragrance sure to put a smile on even the grumpiest scrooges, according to the company.

More info: www.lushusa.com


• For holiday 2011, Suave has a range of limited edition seasonal body washes ($1.99) in four scrumptious scents: Candy Apple Luscious Body Wash, Holiday Pear Refreshing Body Wash, Peppermint Bliss Shimmer Body Wash, Toasted Vanilla and Sugar Indulgent Body Wash. These limited edition body washes are currently on shelves at Walmart stores nationwide.

More info: www.suave.com


• Sothys boasts an at-home spa experience with its Perfumed Soap Trio Box ($20). This holiday set contains three hydrating soaps featuring subtle fragrances inspired by the new Sothys Body Escape Collection. Made in France, each soap is engraved with the Sothys logo and individually wrapped. The collection includes: Lemon & Petitgrain Escape, a fresh, citrus; Orange Blossom & Cedarwood Escape, a woody, musk; and Vanilla & Sandalwood Escape, a powdery variation.

More info: www.sothys.com


• Dr. Hauschka debuted the Serenity & Relaxation Set ($29.95), featuring the soothing scent of lavender. The kit includes a Moor Lavender Body Oil and Lavender Bath in streamlined white packaging. Lavender essential oil and Moor (peat moss) extract are said to provide comfort, protection and a sense of well-being.

More info: www.drhauschka.com

Use these Four FeaturesTo Score with Shoppers

Dr. Rolanda Johnson Wilkerson, senior scientist, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, shares with Happi the four main components that consumers are looking for in a body wash or body cleanser:

• Lather – ease of generation, stability, “creaminess” and amount

• Sensory – how the product feels on the skin during and after use (draggy, coated, smooth)

• Mildness & Moisturization – absence of flakes, tightness and redness

• Scent – has a pleasant scent and leaves an appropriate level of scent on the skin


Consumers also look for value; multi-purpose bath & body products that work to cleanse and moisturize at a good price point and deliver noticeable benefits, added Johnson Wilkerson.

New Life for Ivory Soap

Not only does Ivory Soap float...it has come back to life in a big way. Procter & Gamble is giving its oldest consumer brand a new advertising campaign and product packaging to contemporize the 132-year-old franchise. Targeting the modern mom who is incredibly complex yet driven by simplicity, the new campaign highlights the value and simplicity of Ivory, focusing on giving busy moms and families a product that delivers what they want.

“Ivory is P&G’s oldest and most beloved brand, and while consumers relish in the nostalgia and heritage of the product, it’s time for a holistic reinvention of the brand as we work to touch and improve more consumers’ lives in more parts of the world more completely,” said Jay Sethi, Ivory brand manager. “We’ve answered the call for consumers wanting a ‘simple and clean’ solution and the most powerful aspect of Ivory still remains the simplicity of the product.”

Developed by Portland-based Wieden+ Kennedy, the new ad campaign takes a humorous look at what are called “Ivoryisms”― refreshingly honest product truths―that will appear in all of the television, print and online advertising. These honest truths include a series of simple and straightforward messages that reintroduce Ivory’s perspective on keeping things clean and simple.

The new television campaign includes five commercials, including one 30-second and four 15-second spots, all slated to appear this month in select cities nationwide. Two of the television commercials, “Identity Crisis” and “Soap Dish,” take viewers through a melodic journey of bathroom decor which spotlights a number of distinctly personal soap dishes with the message, “A Soap For Every Dish.” The “Soap Dish” ad takes the same jazz-filled journey through the bathroom only to highlight a variation of soap sculptures, which then begs the question, “At What Point Does Soap Stop Being Soap?”

Ivory’s print and online campaign is equally entertaining, as it offers the same kind of simple and straightforward messages, including “When Dirt Changes Its Formula So Will We,” “Just Add Water” and “Cleanliness Needn’t Involve Costliness.”

The print and online campaign broke last month.

No Link Between Antibacterial SoapsAnd Antibiotic Resistance

Newly published research reaffirms that the use of antibacterial wash products in the home environment does not contribute to antibiotic or antibacterial resistance, confirming previous research that showcased similar findings. The study, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Microbiology Research, compared the use of over-the-counter antibacterial liquid hand and body cleansers and antibacterial bar soaps—containing the germ-killing ingredients triclosan and triclocarban—against the use of non-antibacterial cleansers.

Lead author Eugene Cole, who has spent more than 35 years in the field of environmental health research, says the study discounts claims that the use of antibacterial wash products have contributed to the selection and spread of drug-resistant bacteria on human skin.

“There was no statistically significant difference in antibiotic resistance of Staphylococcus isolates obtained from the skin of regular antibacterial wash product users in comparison with non-antibacterial product users,” said Dr. Cole, professor of Environmental Health Sciences of Brigham Young University’s Department of Health Science. “There was also a definitive lack of antibiotic and antibacterial cross resistance among those bacteria.”

The research was supported by the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) and the Personal Care Products Council.

“Hygiene product manufacturers and ingredient suppliers continuously review and analyze research and fund new studies to ensure product and ingredient efficacy and safety. This is part of our industry’s long-standing commitment to product stewardship,” said Dr. Francis Kruszewski, ACI director of human health and safety. “After decades of use, antibacterial wash products continue to play a beneficial role in everyday hygiene routines for millions of people around the world.”

More info: www.FightGermsNow.com

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