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Raising the Bar

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

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Consumers increasingly seek products with value-added benefits and ingredients, such as those that fight acne, wrinkles and cellulite or provide sunscreen actives—and the value of these ingredients has been successfully touted in liquid soaps, playing no small role in the overall success of such products. Lacking the ability to out-position liquids in a value-added ingredient strategy, bar soaps will continue to find it difficult to compete without a strong emphasis on the ability to satisfy other personal preferences, which play a large role in the bath and body category. Further, savvy brands can appeal to a larger segment of the market through strategic use of bar soaps.

“A body care line would want to include a bar soap to cater to a wider demographic,” said Helpern. “Bar versus liquid is a personal preference, and including both would broaden the line’s appeal, particularly as men prefer bar soaps.”

Bar soaps provide a finishing touch and revenue for a bath line.

“Innovative bar soaps are a great opportunity to generate incremental revenue at significant margin. Plus, our customers typically see a lift in the entire line when a bar soap is added,” said Devine. “[Brands] can grow their market share, create line extension opportunities, enhance the sale of other skin care products and, perhaps most importantly, provide a unique and compelling story—bar soap increases a consumer’s connection with your brand.”

Bar soaps, while not currently forecasted to grow, could be revived as a category with strategic brand moves. By focusing on what bar soaps bring to a line versus what they lack, brands can capitalize to achieve overall growth.