Soap, Bath and Shower Products Issues in the Market The soap, bath and shower category straddles two worlds – at once it falls into the arena of must-have consumer goods, which consumers see as integral to their everyday wellbeing, while at the same time it has an opportunity to tap into a consumer desire for escapism and fantasy. Close to half of women who use bath additives, for instance, cite a long bath as their ultimate pampering treat. How many fast-moving consumer goods segments can claim to satisfy such lofty needs with such a low ticket price?
The beauty industry often cites the resilience of the colour cosmetics category in times of crisis – otherwise known as the lipstick index. It is time for the beleaguered bath additives segment to do the same and position their products as a luxury indulgence at prices accessible to most. Q: How is the economic environment impacting sales of soap, bath and shower products? A: Value sales of SBS products grew in single digits between 2006 and 2011 (with the exception of 2010 when year-on-year growth was more or less flat). The category is buffered somewhat from he inclement economic climate because of the must-have nature of daily cleansing products. At the same time, consumers are clearly under pressure to keep a close eye on household budgets. A third of adults who use shower products are paying more attention to how much they spend on such items because of the economic situation and the same is true for four in ten bath product users and three in ten soap users. Looking ahead, Mintel forecasts the SBS category will grow by 11% between 2011 and 2016, while in real terms (excluding inflation) sales will slip very slightly.
Q: Which segments have most potential for growth? A: There is a clear divide between two promising segments – liquid soaps and shower gels – and two less buoyant ones – bar soaps and bath additives. Mintel expects liquid soap and shower gel sales to grow by 28% and 17%, respectively, between 2011 and 2016, whereas we expect bath additives to slump by 4% and bar soaps by 15% in the same timeframe. The differing performances come down to consumer preference. Adults are much more inclined to use shower gels and creams over bath additives, for instance, likely because showering is uch more convenient and is a quicker option for today’s time-poor consumer. In addition, half of soap, bath and shower product users have switched to taking showers rather than baths in an effort to save water. Meanwhile, liquid soaps have an edge over the more traditional bar format with 89% of women using liquid soaps compared to 77% who use bar soap. While they potentially offer a cost saving over liquid varieties.
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Before joining Mintel in 2010, she spent a decade as a beauty editor for fashion and beauty trade newspaper Women’s Wear Daily. Based in the Conde Nastowned title’s Paris office for five years before transferring to its London bureau, Brid acquired expertise across the beauty spectrum. Brid studied Journalism at Dublin City University (DCU). Soap, Bath and Shower Products Issues in the Market bar soaps suffer from a somewhat old-fashioned image. With no sign of consumers’ habits changing in the hort term, there is unlikely to be any reversal of these sectors’ performance. A third of bath and shower product users buy whatever product is on special offer, while half stock up when their favourite brands are on special offer. Q: What are consumers’ primary concerns when it comes to buying soap, bath and shower products? A: While the basic premise of SBS products is to cleanse, such items now go above and beyond that call of duty. More than three quarters of adults who use shower products, for instance, want their gels and creams to moisturise or soften their skin, while just over half are looking or an invigorating or refreshing showering experience. When it comes to bath additives, pampering and relaxing are the key concerns for two thirds of bath product users. Women are particularly keen on luxurious soaks, with just over half considering a long bath to be their favourite pampering treat. Soap, meanwhile, has a much more pragmatic bent. Close to half of liquid and bar soap users say that cheap or good value products are their top priority, while suitability for the whole family comes second. Q: Which consumer demographics are most important to the category and how will opulation changes impact sales going forward? A: Changes in the UK’s population make-up will impact the SBS sectors to differing extents between 2011 and 2016. Shower product and liquid soap sales will likely be buoyed, for instance, given that these sectors’ highest volume users – adults aged 25-34 – will grow in number by 872,000 in the period. Population changes are less favourable for bath additives and will do little to bolster the category, which is already in the doldrums (sales dipped by 2% in 2011). In general, however, the country’s population will increase y more than 3% (or 1. 7 million) between 2011 and 2016. Given the high penetration rates of soap and shower products, this is some good news for the category in general. Q: What influence do promotions have on the market? A: The SBS category is highly promotional with multi-purchase offers and discounts top priorities for consumers. For instance, a third of bath and shower product users buy whatever product is on special offer, while half stock up when their favourite brands are on special offer. It is little surprise then that the multiple-door grocery hains dominate the retail landscape and account for close to half of category retail sales. With large chains – such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons – frequently basing advertising on their commitment to low pricing and vying with each other to offer headline-grabbing discounts, it’s unlikely the situation will change anytime soon. This will continue to put pressure on the category vis-a-vis growing value sales as consumers have become accustomed to finding their preferred goods at preferential prices.
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