European consumers’ strong preference for taking showers is confirmed in Kantar Worldpanel year to September 2017 data, showing high penetration levels across the largest countries. Showering is most popular in Spain, Italy, Germany and France, where consumers tend to use shower products primarily in the morning to feel clean and refreshed.
Although British and Polish consumers prefer showers, they also enjoy taking a bath, mainly in the evening, as a way of indulging themselves with pleasantly fragranced products.
Liquid shower products have taken the place of solid soaps, according to Mintel data which demonstrates the widespread use of liquid soaps/gels in Europe. In Spain, 91% of consumers say they prefer to wash with liquid soaps, which is true for 87% of Germans, 85% of Italians, 79% of French and 74% of British consumers.
Despite high penetration of liquid shower products, Mintel research shows that more Europeans wash less frequently to save time, water and to reduce the stress of cleaning products on their skin.
“Taken together, these behaviors will reduce the rate of growth across the European soap, bath and shower market,” maintains Jamie Rosenberg, global household and personal care analyst at Mintel.
Recent Mintel data confirms that as many as 37% of French and 31% of Italians have changed their routine in the past six months to use less water or more environmentally-friendly products.
GlobalData confirms that European consumers are increasingly concerned about using chemicals, too, with 54% stating they are either very or extremely concerned about the impact of chemicals on health and appearance, according to results of GlobalData’s 2016 Q3 global consumer survey. Mintel analysts report a sharper focus on the avoidance of ingredients perceived as unhealthy: in 2017, 49% of French consumers said they avoid buying products with parabens, up from 41% in 2014, a behavior that could be motivated by the EU’s recent banning of certain parabens in leave-on products such as lotions.
“Although the same restrictions do not apply to rinse-off products like soap, the rule may be influencing consumer behavior across the beauty and personal care market,” observed Rosenberg.
As consumers become more discerning about the impact of ingredients in personal cleansing products, new opportunities are emerging for brands to explore natural propositions across bath and shower, including preservative-free claims and the use of “real” ingredients. One recent example is a new UK body wash range, GreenFrog Botanic, that was created using Ayurvedic soapberries and essential oils while also claiming to be 100% natural and vegan.
Waterless personal cleansing solutions have yet to go mainstream, although they offer high potential on the European market, noted Jamie Mills, analyst, GlobalData, whose 2016 research shows that 36% of Europeans say they are interested in buying waterless personal care products, but that interest hasn’t translated into purchase.
“While consumers are increasingly environmentally-conscious, according to GlobalData’s consumer research, sustainability remains a secondary factor when making personal care choices,” argues Mills. She believes brands must promote the benefits of waterless formulations by highlighting the potential of enhanced efficacy and improved results, as well as the convenience factor that such products could offer.
Although bar soaps lag liquid formulations in popularity, artisan bar soaps outperform the bar soap category as a whole, with new soaps made using traditional, sometimes cold-pressed manufacturing methods.
“Artisan bar soaps offer strong skin benefits and appeal to the senses,” commented Rosenberg.
Examples include Organic Artisan Handmade Rose Geranium Bar Soap made in the Cotswolds, England, and Savon de Marseille Artisanal French Vegetable Soaps, which are handmade in Provence, France. Taking the concept a bit further is Christophe Robin a l’Aloe Vera Hydrating Shampoo Bar, which is designed to cleanse the hair and body in a 100% natural and vegan formulation.
Skin Care Benefits
Innovation in personal cleansers tends to be focused on liquid shower products, with skin care benefits a key area for growth as awareness of the drying effects of water become more widespread.
“Moisture is a top purchase driver,” maintains Rosenberg, stating that this benefit has mainstreamed in the shower product market with at least 58% of European consumers reporting that they look for moisturizing shower products.
Dove Care & Oil Shower Oil (Germany) has tapped into this trend with an argan-oil-enriched formulation designed to cleanse, moisturize and soften the skin. Furthermore, European consumers actively seek out products for sensitive skin, points out Rosenberg, citing that between 37% and 43% of people living in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK use sensitive skin formulations for sensitive skin.
Mintel has also noted an interest in personal cleansers with exfoliating benefits, especially among Italians. In body wash, 32% of Europeans look for exfoliating capabilities, while just 21% of bar soap users say this is important. St. Ives Renew & Purify Exfoliating Body Wash uses sea salt and kelp extracts to exfoliate and revitalize the skin.
According to Mintel, fragrance has always been a strong purchase driver with at least half of all Europeans reporting that scent is important and between 77% and 84% by country agreeing that bathing/showering is a good stress reliever. Beyond scent, there are opportunities to provide new sensory benefits, such as merging aromatherapy with warming and cooling sensations. Mintel has recorded a high interest in such products, with between 21% and 29% of Europeans willing to pay more. An example is Rituals Samurai Ice Shower containing organic bamboo and Japanese mint, specially designed for use after sport and in warm weather.
Going forward, the challenge facing personal cleansing brands will be to balance consumers’ growing awareness of sustainability issues with a desire for luxurious formulations.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.