AS A MAINSTAY of basic hygiene, the personal cleansers mar- ket is a category on solid footing—although a recent rul- ing may very well impact what products consumers pick
up next time they are in the supermarket or mass merchant store.
Over the years, sales of body washes, bar and liquid soaps,
and hand sanitizers have ebbed and flowed with consumer preferences that center mainly on format, fragrance and benefits
such as added moisture, improved cleansing and germ fighting.
According to IRI’s most recent 52-week data, soap sales (
including heavy duty hand cleaners and hand sanitizers) rose nearly 2%
to more than $4.8 billion. Of the major categories reported by IRI,
three enjoyed gains, but deodorant and non-deo bars soaps both
posted declines (see chart on page 68).
While sliding sales are cause for concern in a category that’s
accustomed to modest year-over-year growth, these days, soap
stakeholders are in a lather about recent regulations. That’s
because in early September, the US Food & Drug Administration
(FDA) issued a final rule that over-the-counter (OTC) consumer
antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients
can no longer be marketed.
The final rule from FDA applies to consumer antiseptic wash
products (intended for use with water and are rinsed off after use)
containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including two ingredients that for many years were the most commonly
used—triclosan and triclocarban. The rule does not affect consumer hand sanitizers or wipes, or antibacterial products used in
health care settings.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and
water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center
for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the time of the
By Christine Esposito • Associate Editor
FDA’s recent antibacterial ruling has soap sector stakeholders scrambling to keep
some ingredients in their formulation kit.
J.R. Watkins has entered the popular body wash sector.