BEAUTY CARE

Bath, body products bring luxurious moments to consumers

BY Sandra Levy

Finally, a category consumers are not in a rush for — well, at least in one manner of speaking.

For most consumers, especially millennials, instant gratification is the name of the game. Yet, when it comes to their bath rituals, they are in slow motion, favoring bath care products that will help them unwind and relax.

That is why retailers that are seeking to clean up in this market are awash with a wide selection of products that would please the most discerning spa aficionados. The proof also is in the pudding, with sales growing and retailers noting that suppliers are bumping up price points — and profit margins — as consumers look for better items. Chicago-based market research firm IRI said body wash sales came to about $2.6 billion and bath fragrances/bubble bath reached $375.7 million in U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended March 24.

With consumers also favoring products that provide a fun experience, it’s no surprise that bath care manufacturers are thinking out of the box and innovating with items that are exciting and pique interest.

Little Indulgences
In recent years, bubble bath, a category mainstay, has become somewhat passé as consumers look for a flashier way to bring excitement to their soak like the bath bomb. For manufacturers, they represent a way for consumers to unwind.

For example, Fort Collins, Colo.-based Salus Bath & Body offers various bath bombs, including infused argan oil and hemp under the company’s Whole Made Bath brand. Others are meant to offer fresh scent profiles, and the company also has a line of natural stone-inspired Geode Mega Bath Bombs, which are made to look like geodes.

“We worked to create a really eye-catching design, and we created blends based off of each stone. There is one for every month, as well as a rose quartz,” Elijah Cordova, Salus’ creative director and media manager, said. “We launched this product based upon the peaked interest in crystals, geodes and the zodiac. Being located in Colorado, we see lots of interest around this, and we felt inspired to turn that interest into a bath bomb line.”

Bath bombs also are a focus for Washington, D.C.-based Soapbox. David Simnick, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said bath bombs represent incremental sales in the bath category because, in addition to being fun for consumers, they are a one-time use item, yet have healthy price points for retailers. For example, the company’s 4.5-oz. bath bomb retails for $4.99.

“One of the trends we’re seeing with bath bombs is that while consumers are still looking for that surprise and delight with the fizz and colorful aesthetic, there’s a push toward less glitter and more toward therapeutic aspects, and or a benefit,” he said.

Aromatherapy benefits, as well as transparency in ingredients, are focuses of Sacramento, Calif.-based Lifearound2angels, founded by Ningzi Sun in her home in 2015 because she wanted to create bath bombs without harsh ingredients for her two daughters. Now, the company has a 22,000-sq.-ft. warehouse that churns out 46 bath bombs with floral, fruit and candy scents, such as vanilla, rose, lavender, melon ball and mango. The bath bombs come in different size packages, ranging from a four pack to a 12 pack.

“We use shea butter and healthy oils to moisturize the skin. The bath bomb is packed with a lot of healthy scents that help you to relax,” Sun said. “Each one of them smells different and looks different. They come in a ball shape, and the top is decorated with Epsom salt and some flower petals. They are fun, they smell good and are a good value,” she said.

Though not in the bath bomb business, Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Village Naturals Therapy also is looking to bring some benefits to bathers with its Chronic Pain & Fatigue Bath Soak and Body Wash. “The line is specially formulated with a blend of powerful ingredients like Epsom salt, arnica and ginger to help combat not only soreness, but also the fatigue associated with these conditions,” said Rachel Joy Swardson, senior marketing manager of new product development at Village Naturals. “Our goal is to support the return of energy, strength and joy to those in pain.”

Mask Off
Self-care is part and parcel of the bath category, and one trend in that space — masks — is moving beyond simply providing benefits to the face. Yes To, based in Pasadena, Calif., has begun making body masks to be used on the stomach and buttocks. Company CEO Ingrid Jackel said one of the trends in the body care category is connected to a recent phenomenon that has extended wellness and self-care to all parts of the body.

“It has given rise to the body positivity movement, coming from the self-care movement that extends to parts of the body that we used to hide and be ashamed of. Now, millennials are showing off with pride, accepting diversity in body types, shapes and sizes,” Jackel said. “These are fun and effective products to embrace consumers’ shapes. Yes To’s Booty-Ful paper masks come in four varieties, with such benefits as retexturizing, tightening and fighting acne, while its Belly Up paper masks come in two varieties.

That’s not to say that face masks are on the way out. Rahway, N.J.-based Spalife’s products offer a more luxurious mask experience, with offerings that include the rose water-infused hydrogel lace face mask and an antiaging collage gold face mask. Owner Linda Harari said a big part of her business is providing affordable luxury. “I’m constantly repackaging and reinventing different ways in which the customer feels they can afford to indulge,” she said.

Cleaning Up
As with bath bombs, consumers in this category are moving away from more traditional forms that have been dominant. This even includes something as steadfast as bar soap. Kennebunk, Maine-based Tom’s of Maine has noticed the trend, with the company’s senior brand manager, Liz Eddy, highlighting a shift to body washes as part of an interest in transparent ingredients.

“People are starting to think not only about the food they eat, but also about what they put on their body,” Eddy said. “As they are being more mindful about ingredients, they’re looking for brands that have truly natural offerings and don’t have sulfates.”

The brand entered the body wash category two years ago and now offers three Tom’s of Maine Natural Moisturizing Body Washes that are priced starting at $7.99.

Officials at Amityville, N.Y.-based Sundial Brands, maker of SheaMoisture, also have noticed the trend and sought to provide products that deliver on various consumer demands. The company recently rolled out SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration 2-in-1 Bubble Bath and Body Wash. “We innovate for an audience that has a high demand for natural ingredients,” said Alexis Adams, director of bath and body.

Sundial’s parent company, Unilever, also is innovating around offerings meant to get shoppers clean by debuting a distinct delivery method — mousse. The company sells Dove Body Wash Mousse in three varieties.

“Dove Body Wash Mousse is our first ever body wash mousse with essential oils — coconut, argan or rose — and provides an instant, rich creamy lather in a pampering and indulgent format,” Nick Soukas, Unilever’s North America vice president of skin cleansing and baby care, said. “And while it’s half the number of ounces as our regular body wash, the concentrated formula provides two times the uses
per ounce compared to our regular body wash formula.”

Amid these shifting trends, manufacturers suggested several ways retailers might capitalize on them. Soapbox’s Simnick sees the category as a prime candidate for building incremental steps through related items by creating an assortment that combines self-care and an experiential offering.

“Consumers may be looking at purchasing a low-cost body wash, but you have the opportunity to trade them up into a higher ring and/or additional rings and build the whole cart by providing an experiential bath item like a loofah or bath bomb in the same aisle as the stand-alone body washes,” Simnick said.

Yes To’s Jackel said that retailers shouldn’t be afraid to lighten up the category, while thinking beyond longtime focuses.

“In terms of merchandising, it’s important to bring a little more focus to different parts of the body,” she said. “Consider the body positivity movement. It’s a generation that behaves differently in their shopping behavior. Bring a little more fun and entertainment to the category.”

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