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Raising the Bar

Posted: August 26, 2008, from the September 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

While bath and shower products posted global sales of $23.6 billion in 2006, with particularly strong sales of products that mimic spa treatments or are marketed as providing luxurious and stress-free moments, bar soaps have seen a downturn in popularity. In the U.S., bar soaps have seen little growth in an overall segment that itself shows little growth, according to Euromonitor International, which forecasts bar soaps to see a 4.5% decline through 2011. The global picture mirrors this trend. In various regions, liquid soaps and body washes consistently outperform bar soaps. With this downturn, optimism may be difficult to come by, yet some innovative delivery systems and trends are adding value to bar soaps that could infuse the category with new life.

Natural and Organic Base

Trends in organics and natural products have carried over into the bar soap category. Consumers are seeking soaps that combine natural and organic ingredients with efficacy, and manufacturers are answering the demand.

“More soap producers are gearing up for the organic market by having their facilities certified as organic manufacturing sites and buying organic raw materials,” said Sue Jonas, vice president of product development, Crabtree & Evelyn.

While utilizing these organic raw materials, manufacturers are also making changes to the oils used within the soap base. “Where natural vegetable oils were used in the past, now organic palm and soy oils are being used more frequently,” said Heather Helpern, product development coordinator, Kiss My Face Corporation. For example, Twincraft currently offers a 100% preservative- and EDTA-free soap base, as well as a certified organic soap base.

“Our focus is innovation and staying ahead of the trends—setting the trends really,” said Barbara Devine, director of marketing, Twincraft Soap. “We work with our customers to determine what’s going to sell for them and what’s going to appeal to their customer base.”