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Fanning the Flames of Innovation

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 9, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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An apt example is an evolution in the hand soap market. Soap, in general, is a mature segment. According to Euromonitor International, consumers are far more willing to economize on bath and shower products in general than they are on cosmetics, and trust that the quality of even low-cost brands is of a high enough level to deliver basic hygiene. This mindset has contributed to the slow growth of the bath and shower segment—the slowest-growing category in the beauty market—and commoditization, therefore, constrains unit prices. Adding value or a point of difference are keys to further growth. Foaming technology, for example, is still big news in liquid soap, states Euromonitor.

“The foam pump started a new generation of hand washes,” says Norbert de Jong, worldwide marketing director, personal care division, Rexam. “Most of the soap manufacturers expanded their lines with a foaming hand soap. Dial, Colgate and Bath & Body Works all expanded their range with this, leading to additional sales. In the kids segment, this even lead to a complete, new market. With the foaming kids soap, kids wash their hands more then ever before.”

In this way, Rexam’s foam pump concept opened doors for new applications, and brands expanded product lines with innovative foaming concepts while engaging or re-engaging segments of consumers.

“Foam gives a higher perceived value to the consumer,” says de Jong. “If you compare a small amount of gel or liquid in your hands with an [equivalent] amount of foam, the foam gives a much richer feeling.”

The market opportunities afforded by the foam pumps, as demonstrated in the soap segment, has a ripple effect through other segments. High-end skin care brands, according to de Jong, have launched foam products due to the high perceived value by the consumer. “Foam strengthens the quality perception of prestige and masstige brands,” he says. Innovative packaging, as demonstrated in these successes, can be part of an ongoing strategic marketing plan for a product.