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Bath and Shower: No Longer a Drain

By: Briony Davies
Posted: March 5, 2007, from the March 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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One of the primary ways to boost value in bath and shower products is through pampering benefits. At-home spa treatments featuring aromatherapy and natural ingredients are common, and organics are now appearing in this segment. Use of food ingredients is another emerging trend, with the moisturizing properties of olives, avocado, milk and honey and the energizing benefits of orange, mango and papaya proving particularly popular. Pampering, however, is not achieved strictly through formulation, but delivery, as well. BubbleGel, for example, comes in individual capsules combining foaming agents and essential oils.

As the boundary between bath and shower products and skin care becomes blurred, manufacturers must look to other sectors for inspiration. Antiaging, firming and anti-cellulite are among the claims appearing on body wash/shower gel (e.g. Eris Lirene Anti-Cellulite Shower Gel). Moisturizing and exfoliating brands are even more established—notably the Dove range with a formulation of one quarter moisturizing cream and L’Occitane Lavender Blackberry Exfoliating Shower Gel.

As commoditization increases, product segmentation must become increasingly advanced. For consumers who enjoy sporting lifestyles, to cite one particular target group, convenience formats and strong-acting, refreshing formulations are becoming the norm, with products such as Avon Pro Sport for Men and Liz Sport for Women shower gels.

Pressure to add value to bath and shower products is set to continue to 2010. Efforts to boost penetration among the world’s developing markets will speed the rate at which saturation is achieved. However, it is the emerging middle classes that are proving willing to trade up as they aspire to the comforts and convenience of Western living. Many bath and shower products are also latching onto the health and wellness trend—offering consumers a way to take care of themselves as well as affording an opportunity for guilt-free indulgence. In the longer term, therefore, adding value is expected to continue as the focus of new product launches. Increasing the occasion for usage—adding nighttime brand extensions, for example—is one strategy already being explored.

Manufacturers are also likely to boost efforts to gain credibility in the at-home spa segment. In November 2006, U.K. supermarket chain Tesco launched a professional spa bath and body range under television health, fitness and well-being expert Jasmine Harman. The line, called Body Therapy Spa, is due to appear in leading Tesco stores beginning February 2007, and is divided into four distinct ranges. Other mass brands, including Simple and Nivea, are moving into the spa channel—illustrated by the 2006 opening of Simple:SPA in London and Nivea Haus in Hamburg, Germany. Natural and organic ingredients have already permeated bath and shower products, and environmentally friendly formulations—a trend spurring innovation elsewhere in cosmetics and toiletries—could appear in bath and shower products in the near future in the form of biodegradable foams, refillable or recyclable packaging or the use of sustainably sourced ingredients. Products that cut down on water use, such as evaporating antibacterials, could also prove popular with consumers increasingly interested in green products.