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Raising the Bar

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

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Bar soaps suit consumers who strive for an overall natural lifestyle. “They like the straightforward simplicity and old-fashioned sensibility of a bar, and there is less packaging that needs to be disposed of compared to a liquid cleanser,” said Jonas. Bar soap attracts consumers with environmental concerns as well. “From an environmental stance, bar soap is far superior. The ingredients are more natural and friendly to humans and the environment,” said Devine. “There is less waste and it’s often a paper package that is biodegradable versus a plastic container sitting in a landfill.” Within the industry, bar soaps have the capacity to carve an even more unique niche in the market through exotic ingredient offerings and fragrance-free options. “Bar soaps are becoming more specialized, creating a niche market. Adding exotic specialty ingredients takes soaps out of the ordinary and makes them unique,” said Helpern.

Capitalize on the Experience

With that in mind, bar soaps need to build on natural-occurring selling points, such as the inherent multisensory experience, to jump-start the category.

“Working with a bar sometimes opens up a greater range of creativity beyond liquid cleansers,” said Jonas. “A bar gives us the opportunity to work with the shape, weight, color, texture, lathering pattern and skin feel, so we can select the appropriate sensory characteristics to match up with a specific fragrance and engage a consumer in a multidimensional experience.”

As a result, bar soaps provide the capacity to create an individualized experience for consumers who want more than just clean skin.

“An ever-increasing level of design sophistication can be seen in the products coming from the workshops of small artisan soap makers. They are bringing energy, excitement and innovation to the category through their use of unusual fragrance combinations, their creation of interesting textures and hand-detailed packaging,” said Jonas.