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Shower Power

Sara Mason

Bar soaps have not gone the way of cassette tapes in the wake of compact discs, but they are steadily losing ground to liquid soaps and shower gels. As body washes take hold in the market, the competition is quite fierce. Marketers are looking to attract attention through new product development, added value skin sensory benefits and distinct fragrances that not only give power to the morning shower, but also make the experience last through the morning hours.

Added Value

While cleansing is the primary function of body washes, it is not the primary marketing tool. “Consumers know that the product will clean,” explained Helen Feygin, president, Intuiscent LLC. “Yet, it’s not just the physical state of clean but the emotional state of clean.” People expect to feel and smell fresh and clean. This is accomplished in the body wash experience with a smell that lingers in the bathroom and on the skin, confirming the feeling of clean.

This emotional state of clean extends to concerns about the sustainability of resources and the equilibrium of life. To support their world view, people often shy away from chemicals, believing they can be harmful. Thus consumers are demanding products be natural, not just smell that way, requiring the use of essential oil blends without additives. “People want to feel good about themselves in a holistic way,” added Intuiscent’s Feygin.

The botanical and organic health movement also has kept aromatherapy fragrances in the limelight. Aromatherapy plays a significant part of the ambience during at-home spa experiences. To accommodate manufacturers’ desire to meet consumer demand for aromatherapy, Belle-Aire has created several aromatherapy scent collections such as Bath Juice with energizing Ginger Mint Juice and soothing Rain Water Juice and Exotic Spa.

Some washes also have mood altering claims, such as “calming” or “energizing,” addressing body and spirit. Sensorial experience is a trend consumers are looking for to signal efficacy. “In development, it is key to unite well-being sensorial benefits an essential oil can deliver with the benefits that are delivered from the base,” explained Lynn Mazzella, vice president, Origins Global Product Development. For instance, the Origins’ Jump Start Body Wash links the natural energy-boosting notes in the essential oil blend with natural base formula ingredients known to leave the skin feeling energized and glowing.

Fragrance Trends

Influenced by the well-being trend, today’s consumers demand more natural-smelling fragrances, that are fresh, not suffocating. They can be costly because of origin, availability and crop-to-crop variations. Ultimately, the key is for fragrances to support the product’s marketing claim or concept. “Put simply, the product needs to smell like what the consumer expects,” explained Intuiscent’s Feygin. Scent is powerful. It is the only sense that makes direct connections with the emotional centers of the brain, which can bring up associations that might be very personal. “Logical thoughts lead to decisions, but emotions lead to action,” Feygin explained. “Fragrances go directly to emotions, leading to action at the retail level.” Following through with unique fragrances that appeal to the consumer is key for today’s marketers.

Citrus scents and fruity notes are most notable for giving the clean, fresh feeling consumers are looking to experience. More diversity in new launches featuring citrus has brought pink grapefruit, orange and tea to the market. Dove’s Cool Moisture body wash, for example, engages the senses with an uplifting fragrance of cucumber and green tea. Origins’ Paradise Found Balinese features a unique blend of pineapple and orange essential oils for the refreshing feeling of a tropical paradise.

However, the singular fruity fragrances are decreasing. “Fruits are now blended with florals for more sophisticated and complex fruity fragrances—flowering fruits,” said Mary Busch, brand manager, The Dial Corporation. Herbaceous, green and fresh scents with a twist are coming back in style, as are scents inspired by intriguing ingredients from exotic destinations.

Gourmand notes also are well-established on the market including vanilla, honey and some coconut. “Eating is comforting, but people are concerned about their weight, so they use their sense of smell to get a similar feeling,” stated Intuiscent’s Feygin. For fall, Limited Brands introduced Temptations from Bath & Body Works, an exclusive line of body washes featuring “all the indulgence with none of the guilt:” Pumpkin Pie Paradise, Cinnamon Bun Heaven, Spiced Apple Rapture and Pecan Passion.

“We have seen continued momentum in the gourmet food trend in fragrances with ingredients like cocoa,” said Jenny Belknap, executive director, Origins Global Marketing. Fragrances from Belle-Aire’s Sweet Souls collection also fall into the gourmand delights segment. “Chocolate, caramel and butter cream are all great notes when cleverly added to a soft fresh bouquet,” added Marilyn Kelly, vice president marketing/fragrance designer, Belle-Aire Fragrances, Inc.

Exotic ingredients from functional foods eventually also will find their way into products. Busch forecasts ingredients such as the citrus acai fruit, the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, evergreen tree’s longan, the Southeast Asian fruit pomelo, and the Asian tropical root vegetable taro. Nevertheless, with recent launches, there also will be more sophisticated oriental or floriental fragrances, such as in Dove Calming Night, suitable for new ultra feminine concepts. The industry will continue to look to the nutraceutical and supplement markets for ingredient trends to reapply to the personal wash arena.

Innovation Opportunities

“The primary consideration in the development of body wash is to create a quality fragrance that supports the product and that delights the consumer,” said Intuiscent’s Feygin. “Quality fragrance connotes luxury, and product quality is even more important now than ever. Even low-income consumers tend to want luxury products.” Balance is the key between the top notes and the rest of the fragrance. Users should still get a whiff of the pleasant note—reminiscent of the shower experience with associated assurance and emotional comfort. Understanding the product becomes important, as different ingredients affect the fragrance differently. “Fragrance needs to diffuse, not interfere with the rest of the formulation,” explained Feygin.

Origins’ Mazzella agrees that consumers are becoming more critical. “Therefore, the effectiveness of ingredients in product formulas will be tested clinically for substantiation, and the results will be made visible on the package copy of body washes in the future,” she predicts.

“In order to provide unique, high-quality products to consumers, innovation plays an important role in the development cycle,” added Claudia Pinzon, personal care program manager, Avon. “Formulation innovation coupled with manufacturing innovations can lead to interesting products.” Innovation can provide new technology by introducing active ingredients, interesting aesthetics, new claims language or positioning, testing methodologies, packaging and manufacturing processes—the final goal being to satisfy the consumer’s desire for a moment of serenity at the beginning of the day.

Men’s Market

Male-specific personal wash products are driving more than half the incremental growth of the body wash market. “While there is nearly universal trial among females of the body wash form, men are still at the trial stage, representing huge upside for brands that get it right with men,” explained Mary Busch, brand manager, The Dial Corporation.

In May, Origins launched its first complete men’s skin care and bath and body collection specifically designed and packaged for men. Since its launch, the brand has experienced significant growth in this category. “What has been successful for us is to focus on body products as well as skin care,” explained Jenny Belknap, executive director, Origins Global Marketing. “With the introduction of the Skin Diver body collection, we have found that the ingredient active charcoal is very appealing to men.” The Skin Diver Active Charcoal body wash removes blockage from pores and features a spirited scent of spearmint and rosemary.

“In the men’s market, fougére and aromatic fragrances show tremendous growth with many new launches fueled by the men’s arena,” said Dial’s Busch. “The diversity within the men’s category is also noticeable: more variants and inspiration from fine fragrances.”

The Axe line of shower gels from Unilever features scents reminiscent of fine fragrances. With its coolly seductive fragrances and packaging, the brand has established itself as a popular male grooming brand with a constant stream of new ideas “to keep guys a step ahead in the mating game.” The use of award-winning ads and unconventional media has established the brand particularly in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America.

On the other hand, Henkel’s Dial For Men was introduced in January without using fragrance and an overt “get the girl” image to sell its product. “Instead, Dial For Men was developed for the regular guy,” explained Busch. “He’s already got the girl but he’s starting to take care of his skin more seriously—although he’s not obsessed with it either.” This is one example of a clearly defined segment, both demographically and psychographically, with a product message that uniquely resonates with its target market.

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