According to Euromonitor International, the bath and shower market in Western Europe posted minimal growth in 2018, rising 1.6% to about $7.8 billion (results for 2019 were not available at press time). The category was dominated by the four major nations—Germany, UK, Italy and France—which accounted for more than two-thirds of Western European sales. At barely a third of its size, Eastern European sales rose a robust 3.6% to top $2.3 billion. Russia and Poland are both key markets for personal cleansing products. According to Euromonitor, washing habits vary considerably between the two European regions: in Western Europe, body wash and shower gel sales top $3.7 billion, nearly half of total sales; in contrast, in Eastern Europe bar soap, body wash and shower gel each account for approximately a third of sales.
Mintel research among users of soap, bath and shower products, shows that 29% of Italian consumers are willing to pay more for aromatherapy products with sensorial elements, such as cooling or warming, while UK consumers are partial to products that are fun and holistic, with gifting offering a strong opportunity for brands.
One example is Dutch holistic beauty brand Rituals, which launched The Ritual of Holi, a range of fun formats and textures, including Crackle body mousse, Jellylicious shower jelly, Shower Flower foam and Playable foam. They are packaged in bold and colorful designs inspired by the colors and scents associated with the ancient Indian celebration of Holi, where participants cover one another with colorful powder in a bid to symbolically rid themselves of emotional impurities and to start anew.
Rosalia di Gesu, global beauty and personal care analyst, Mintel, suggests that a gap exists for sleep-aiding soap, bath and shower products.
“There is scope for products appealing to those who seek more holistic ways to de-stress and rest the body and mind,” she explained. “Bath products are especially well placed to tap into sleep-aiding trends, since bathing is commonly done as a relaxing activity.”
UK organic spa brand Bamford has launched the Bamford B Silent collection, based on its eponymous spa treatments. The products consist of a night-time bath concentrate containing Roman chamomile and St John’s wort, in addition to trendy Cannabis sativa, commonly known as hemp. di Gesu has identified magnesium as a key ingredient in personal cleansing launches to help de-stress, sleep well and help muscles recover post-exercise. Al!ve Magnesium Plus bath and body care products feature magnesium as the hero ingredient in order to keep skin and body feeling and looking healthy, while combating fatigue and offering anti-inflammatory properties.
Gastronomia, fragrance and ingredient innovations continue to be inspired by the food and drinks markets and are another way to bring novelty and fun into the personal cleansing category, according to Mintel’s BPC 2025 Trends. In addition to the more usual additions of ingredients such as coffee and green tea, Mintel researchers report more specialized tea and coffee variants:
- Natura Siberica Tuva Siberica Mongolian Tea Invigorating Shower Gel is infused with Mongolian tea to nourish and smooth the skin (Belgium, France);
- Dr. Organic Coffee Skinny Body Scrub uses organic Arabic coffee and an extra shot of mint to stimulate the skin and also has an energizing blend of ginger, black pepper, guarana and nettle (Netherlands, UK);
- Good Phys Ed. Recovery Bath Soak uses turmeric and apple cider vinegar to soothe post-exercise (France);
- Monsavon au Lait Bio Apricot Touch of Basil My Moisturizing Shower combines the natural scent of apricot with basil for a mood-enhancing experience (France); and
- Stevia sweetener makes an appearance in beauty courtesy of Italian brand Collistar, which uses the natural plant sweetener in Collistar Natura for its powerful antioxidant flavonoids to repair and hydrate the skin.
But whatever they select, Europeans want to purchase sustainable products. According to GlobalData’s 2018 survey, 74% of Europeans said that a brand’s sustainability and ethics influence their personal care purchases, including personal cleansing products. This sentiment is most marked among consumers living in Turkey (86%), Romania (86%) and Hungary (83%)—all Central/Eastern European countries.
“Consumers now hold a holistic perception of wellness and associate the purchase of sustainable products to a feeling of personal well-being,” said Yamina Tsalamlal, associate analyst, GlobalData.
Bar soap has made a surprise comeback, becoming more synonymous with sustainability, according to Gabriella Beckwith, senior analyst on Europe bath and shower, Euromonitor. She said, “To encourage the use of bar soap, brands such as Little Soap Company and Ethique are aiming to premiumize the segment.”
Plastic packaging has also come under scrutiny, although the alternatives have yet to spread out into the mainstream. According to Mintel, just 2% of soap, bath and shower product launches in Europe are refills; one of them is UK men’s grooming brand Bulldog’s 5-liter shower gel refill kit.
Moving forward through 2020, personal cleansing brands must appeal to discerning European consumers who care deeply about the potential to damage the planet through their actions. A brand’s ethical and sustainable position will become ever more important.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher who commentates on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles, has served on the Board of Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW UK) and won the prestigious Cosmetic Executive (UK) Achiever Award. Founded by Imogen in 1993, The Premium Market Report remains the only in-depth report to examine trends in the premium cosmetics, skincare and fragrance industry. www.imogenmatthews.co.uk