Bathroom products – All in a lather

In saturated western markets consumer habits are changing when it comes to bath and shower products. Time constraints and environmental concerns mean shower gel sales are outstripping those of bath additives. To counter poor customer loyalty, brands are adding value with multifunctional claims and skin care benefits, while natural claims and spa inspired products remain popular themes

The bath and shower market is enjoying significant growth but overcrowding in mature markets remains an issue. So how are brands standing out, asks Julia Wray

Having survived the choppy waters of the worst of the of recessionary years, the bath and shower products market continued its regeneration in 2011, according to the most recent data from Euromonitor International. Overall, the market was worth $37.24bn, an increase of 8.6% on 2010, and the category accounted for 9% of the total global beauty market in 2011. But it hasn’t been an easy ride for all bath and shower product manufacturers, particularly those in mature market regions.

“Bath and shower is one of the oldest beauty categories and very well developed in western Europe and North America, and this is both its challenge and its privilege,” says Nicole Tyrimou, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Euromonitor. “Bath and shower products are necessary but the market is also hugely competitive and you need a point of difference.” She adds that this is especially the case in Europe where there is a sophisticated own brand offering.

In addition to “private label products mimicking branded ones for less”, Tyrimou notes that aggressive discounting is also pressurising brands. Ashley Anzie, Consumer Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel, agrees, adding: “Sales of shower products are driven by in-store promotions and we see a huge amount of shopper overlap when it comes to brands like Imperial Leather, Radox, Nivea, Dove and Sanex. The repertoire of the average shopper will cover at least five shower gel brands.” The exception to the rule, he says, is consumers with atopic skin.

“The bath and shower market lives on re-buying,” says Tyrimou. “It is not a big loyalty category and people tend to go for whatever is on offer, or whatever is new.”

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