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Bath & Body: Growing Beyond the Basics

By: Izaskun Bengoechea, Euromonitor International
Posted: October 7, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In all of the emerging regions, deodorants are enjoying strong sales. Penetration rates among new middle income consumers are rising. Women, who are increasingly entering the workplace, are purchasing these products as appearance and grooming becomes more important. For poorer consumers, these products are often used in the place of more expensive fragrances.

Rising disposable income levels are also contributing to the threat facing bar soap, currently the most popular product within the bath and body category. According to Euromonitor International, bar soap sales of $10 billion in 2007 are being rapidly caught by body wash/shower gel, which posted $8 billion in sales. Bar soap saw 24% value growth from 2002–2007, a figure clearly eclipsed by the 58% growth for body wash/shower gel and 55% growth for liquid soap.

While manufacturers in more developed regions are focused on adding value to body wash products, the demand for bar soap remains strong in less developed countries. In India, players continue to innovate. In 2007, Henkel launched Fa Yoghurt Aloe Vera and Fa Yoghurt Vanilla Honey bar soap variants. Key cosmetic and toiletry company Dabur India Ltd. extended its shampoo brand Dabur Vatika into bar soap, and there was a new entry to the market when tobacco manufacturer ITC Ltd. launched Superia bar soap, targeted at mass consumers.

Life Beyond Saturation

In the more developed regions of North America, Western Europe and Australasia, price competition is fierce, brand loyalty is low and private label is a real threat to manufacturers. The challenge for manufacturers in this category is to offer added benefits that will encourage consumers away from budget product lines. Catering to pampering and wellness trends is one way they can achieve this goal. Cleansing is still the primary purpose of bath and body products, but enhancing mood and offering a holistic at-home spa experience have also become key. Aromatherapy claims have thus become commonplace, and formulations are more fragrant, thicker and more luxurious. One of the more eye-catching examples of this trend from 2007 was the launch of Shower Shock in the United States. This bar soap contains caffeine and claims to give users their morning fix while they shower by being the equivalent of drinking two cups of coffee.

With few non-users to convert and limited population growth in most mature countries, deodorant manufacturers are looking toward innovative scents, product efficacy or lifestyle identity to drive value growth. The latter strategy is most prevalent in the men’s spray category, with brands such as Axe/Lynx, TAG and new entrant RGX in the U.S. engaged in a multimedia battle for the adolescent and young men’s share of mind and wallet. RGX, from Dial, even has its own online community at www.rgxlife.com.