Soaking Up Success In Euro Bath Market

By Katie Middleweek, European Cosmetic Markets Tel: (44) 020 7193 6862 | January 24, 2013

It has been a successful year for the bathroom products category in the Big 5 (Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain) with all countries reporting an increase in value sales. That’s quite an achievement, especially when one realizes how much the category has suffered in recent years.

Some consumers view bathroom products (bar and liquid soaps, shower gels, bath salts and the like) as quite boring and utilitarian in an otherwise vibrant and interesting personal care market. So it is good to see that the past year has led to renewed interest here and generally renewed innovation to go with it.

Fresh Times in France

According to SymphonyIRI France, the bathroom products market here grew 2.5% in 2011 to top $960 million. Shower gels dominated the category, accounting for $705 million or nearly 80% of the total. The gels proved to be extremely popular as a sub-sector, posting a 3.5% increase in value terms. The performance of the soap category was more mixed with liquid soap affirming itself as the frontrunner in the category with a rise in value sales of 4% to nearly $121 million, while bar soaps slipped to $103 million. Dermatological soaps, however, really fell out of favor, sliding 6% to $6.5 million, according to SymphonyIRI.

Give ‘em a hand! Liquid soap sales rose in France and Spain.

Within France, premium spa brand Phytomer focused on well-being benefits with its bath and shower line Oligomer Bien-Être with a shower cream, Crème Douche Hydratante Vivifiante, and a bath product, Bain Relaxant Reminéralisant. The product is said to invigorate the skin and offers a sensation of well-being, as well as overcome fatigue and recharge the body.

Pierre Fabre also had a busy year, launching shower products that nourish the skin. Elancyl’s Huile de Douche Tonifiante is an oil-rich, soap-free formulation that gently cleanses the skin while the addition of ivy extract reportedly helps stimulate the synthesis of elastin and protect collagen, thereby restoring skin softness. Meanwhile, Klorane developed a new formula for its latest innovation, Gel Douche Nourrissant Délice Fruité, which is described as a combination of raspberry, gooseberry, strawberry, rose and almond notes mixed with 20% nourishing cream to cleanse and soften skin without drying. Finally, Avène launched Le Gel Nettoyant Surgras Cold Cream, a shower gel specifically designed for dry or sensitive skin. It is said to contain the mildest surfactants to cleanse skin, within a hypoallergenic and paraben-free formula.

German Gains

In Germany, sales rose 2.4% in 2011, according to SymphonyIRI Germany. But taking a closer look, it is evident that some subsegments performed better than others. For example, sales of bath additives declined 3.3% to $181 million, while soap sales soared 11.4% to more than $265 million. Shower gel sales increased a scant 0.6% to $581 million, but at least sales moved in the right direction.

In new product development news, Aveda launched its Stress-Fix bathroom product line, which includes a selection of bathroom wares, one of which is Soaking Salts with organic sugar to exfoliate and soften the skin, sunflower oil to soothe and condition the skin and mineral-rich salts to soften the skin.

Scrubs Success Story

In Italy, sales of personal cleansers increased 1.5% to top $1.5 billion and within the segment, bath and shower foam sales inched up 0.8%, while soaps and syndets grew by the same amount. Liquid soaps also put on a healthy 3.9% while sales of talcums and other powders declined 0.2%, according to Unipro.

Salts scrubs are big business in Italy.
The salt scrubs category continued to be popular across the Italian market with perfumery brand Collistar (Bolton Group) releasing its Thermoactive Thalasso. The scrub contains 90 different types of sea salts of varying grain sizes and a mix of active ingredients to give an energy boost and reinvigorate the body. Six different plant extracts perform a dual action in stimulating lipase enzymes to break down fatty deposits and at the same time prevent the formation of new ones. The 700g jar comes with a spatula for easy application and the big size is designed to last for almost six months, making it easier to justify the expense of adding regular exfoliation to one’s beauty regime.

The Green Theme

The value of the bathroom products market in Spain has increased a modest 0.5% to $400 million, according to SymphonyIRI Spain. Volume sales also inched up by the same percentage to reach 110 million units. Shower gels dominate, although sales of these products slipped 0.4% in the past year. Meanwhile liquid and cream soaps increased their hold over bar soaps, with the former growing 6% to more than $43 million. More impressive, sales of bath salts and oils soared 86% to $2.9 million.

When it came to NPD activity in Spain, green products were a solid favorite in the bathroom stakes. To take advantage of this growing demand, retailers operating in Spain introduced a number of new products in the course of the past year. Mercadona, for example, introduced a shower gel called Frescor Verde (green freshness) to its Deliplus range. The product contains citrus and chlorophyll for a fresh, clean sensation. The ergonomically designed one-liter bottle is said to offer great value for money, particularly in the summer when temperatures soar and more than one shower a day is needed. Mercadona has also highlighted the fact that Frescor Verde is dermatologically tested, has a pH of 5.5 and has not been tested on animals.

Another store that heavily promotes the green credentials of its products is The Body Shop (L’Oréal), which was also active in new product development in the bathroom category last year. The first range is Earth Lovers, a line of 100% biodegradable bath gels that decompose naturally without leaving “harmful contaminants” in the waters they pass through, according to L’Oréal. The range is made up of seven different gels, including one that has no aroma, and the company has also focused on making the packaging from recycled plastics.

A second range from the British firm to hit Spanish shelves is Chocomanía. The products are said to have a rich, sensual texture to transport the senses with a delicious chocolaty aroma. The star of the range is the body butter, but it also includes a body scrub which contains cocoa butter, Brazil nut oil and soya oil. The collection includes a shower gel that hydrates the skin while it cleans and a set of mini soaps.

Not to be left out, Spanish retailer El Corte Inglés has also brought out two new additions to its existing cosmetics and toiletries lines. The first is a fig-flavored scrub to its Ingredientes range that is said to transform daily routine into a sensual ritual. A new Colorama line, meanwhile, includes liquid hand soap and shower gel among its range of five products that are sold with aromas such as rose, green tea and grapefruit.

Inspiration from Nature

UK bathroom product sales jumped an impressive 4.6% to nearly $940 million in the past year, while volume sales inched up 2.1% to over 462 million units. Looking at individual sub-sectors, however, there were highs and lows. Bath salt sales soared 11.1%, while body wash sales increased 0.7%, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Unfortunately, sales of liquid soaps fell 2.6% and shower products dropped by a more worrying 16.3%.

Shower gels are an essential part of Europeans’ bath time routine.
There was good launch activity, however, as UK consumers clamored to get their hands on new items. One noteworthy new name on the bathroom products scene this year was Noble Isle, which had an exclusive April launch at prestige department store Fortnum & Mason. The 24-SKU, unisex collection included premium bath and body ranges that incorporate ingredients sourced from throughout the British Isles. The range is designed to leave “a unique and lasting sensory impression set to become the new tradition in luxury bathing,” according to the company.

A unique aspect of Noble Isle is that each range is designed to tell a different story about the area from which it takes inspiration. For example, the Willow Song range takes inspiration from Lavenham Walk, a two-mile promenade in the countryside surrounding the village of Lavenham in Suffolk. The range, which uses willow bark and water lily extracts sourced from a stream near Lavenham Walk, includes a Bath & Shower Gel, Body Cream and Candle. Other bathroom products in the collection include: Fireside Bath & Shower Gel, which tells the story of the Mynwy Valley in Wales; Summer Rising Bath & Shower Gel, inspired by Cornish Hedgerows; and Lightning Oak Soap Bar, which incorporates ingredients from Hertford Heath.

Clearly, bathroom product sales were on the rise during much of the past year. It would appear that manufacturers all around have improved their game to capitalize on this renewed interest, which has been reflected in the sales figures. May this category continue to keep bubbling with new products and unique marketing campaigns.

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.