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The contemporary retail environment revolves largely around choice—a reality especially evident in the bath and body category. As markets become more segmented, consumers are coming to expect products made for their specific needs. To grow sales and market share, brand owners are looking to new tactics and strategies both online and in store.
Recent years have seen bath and body products introduced to the market with additional benefits intended to add value while making them stand out for the consumer. “We are seeing higher level benefits being introduced in the bath and body category—radiance, toning, cellulite reduction and antiaging benefits—when the category used to primarily provide cleansing, some moisturization and a fragrant experience,” said Liz Grubow, vice president, group creative director, LPK Beauty.
Adding such a variety of new benefits to an already crowded retail shelf makes standing out all the more difficult. “The category is growing by leaps and bounds, which is causing confusion at the shelf. Clear definition of benefits, coupled with a robust and meaningful architecture strategy, will greatly benefit the category,” said Grubow. This includes clear and consistent branding to ensure product recognition.
Crowded shelves may also work to a brand’s advantage. “Online, it is difficult to shop a line of products to find which one is right for you. Being able to see that array of product offerings and benefits in comparison helps the consumer decide what is right for her,” said Grubow. Examining packaging to uncover intriguing ingredients—or even the mood of the moment—can trigger a purchase decision.
As with all beauty products, natural and exotic ingredients are the wave of the future. Even bath and body products are not immune to this trend. According to Datamonitor, consumers associate “natural” with wellness. “Unique and exotic ingredients that used to be found primarily in spa and super premium product lines are now being introduced at mass,” said Grubow. However, sales of body washes are being driven by a focus on seasonal needs and new product launches. As a result, Datamonitor expects this segment to be worth $9.4 billion by 2010, but with a growth rate that is expected to fall slightly in the next five years. “Bath and body can learn from the hair care category how to drive regimen and elevate body care needs and experience,” acknowledged Grubow.