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The Rebuilding of Bar Soap

By: Abby Penning
Posted: June 29, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Devine goes on to explain, “FDMs now offering a national brand equivalent (NBE) product are improving upon those with national brand better (NBB) products,” says Devine. “And as these lines get better, consumer loyalty increases, which allows FDMs to further expand their NBB bar soap lines with better ingredients and aesthetic elements.”

Ingredients and Aesthetics

To keep consumers interested in FDM private label lines, more companies are innovating within their own lines. Howard explains, “Bar soaps and their formulations are now really focusing on delivering that multifunctionality, giving consumers more reasons to pick them up off the shelf. FDM stores are littered with literally dozens of SKUs when it comes to soap, so you need something that not only will get a consumer to pick it up off the shelf, but also come back for it again and again. Innovation in terms of formulation, aesthetics and packaging is essential in that regard. You want the consumer to be able to sniff that bar to get the scent, see the bar to experience the aesthetics, and in many cases this needs to be done through innovative packaging.”

Interesting ingredients continue to pique consumer interest, as well as that of the formulators and even manufacturers. “We’ve put everything from aloe vera to oat bran in our formulations,” says Devine. “Consumers are always looking for something interesting, something different, and while that always makes our job challenging, it also makes it fun.” Sustainability is also a buzzword in the bar soap segment. “In response to the organic and natural trends, manufacturers are exploring more natural soap bases and ingredients that have been sourced sustainably, including fragrances,” says Howard. “There’s also been development of recyclable and biodegradable packaging. We’re always looking at ways to offer brands more socially conscious choices as that is what is being driven by the consumer.”

“We’re even seeing small growth in bar soap for babies, because it’s very natural, so parents don’t have to worry about preservatives or parabens,” says Devine. “Bar soaps aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago. Now they can offer a much more positive experience for their audience.”

“People want their bar soap to have it all,” she continues. “Something in just pretty packaging isn’t going to cut it—it needs to have a nice fragrance, exfoliate, moisturize, have sustainable ingredients and tell an engaging story in order to grab the consumers’ attention.”

Continuing the Trend