SINK or Swim?
Marketers try to boost sales of bar soaps and body washes
with innovative ingredients, alluring packaging and savvy campaigns.
Melissa Meisel • Associate Editor
EVEN THOUGH SOME household budg- ets may be tighter these days, con- sumers 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.
Innovations in the soap, bath and
shower product market revolve around a
range of product claims, according to mar-
ket research firm Mintel in its report, Soap,
Bath & Shower Products 2011. For exam-
ple, 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.
Vitabath body washes are back for 2011 with a new look and revitalized formulations.