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Consumers want more, more, more from bath and body

BY Antoinette Alexander

The bath and body segment has benefited from near universal usage as consumers use these products in their daily personal hygiene routine. While the market was not impacted significantly by the economic downturn — as consumers still needed to bathe — the way in which consumers shop the market has shifted.

(For the full category review, including data, click here.)

“The recession and subsequent recovery years have had an impact on how consumers are shopping for soap, bath and shower products. Consumers are cost-conscious and careful in scrutinizing their spending, particularly for daily use personal care products that require frequent purchase,” Mintel stated in its 2013 report on “Soap, Bath and Shower Products” in the United States.

Price has taken the lead as the most important factor when purchasing, leading consumers to trade down to less expensive brands, product formats and lower-priced label options. Coming in as the second key purchase driver, according to Mintel, is scent type, and third is familiar brand.

To attract consumers back to branded, more expensive offerings, manufacturers are increasingly integrating additional benefits, such as anti-aging ingredients, and leveraging current trends playing out in other categories like food. Manufacturers also are positioning their brands as “affordable luxuries” in hopes that consumers will see the purchase as a cost-effective treat. For example, Dr. Teal’s is bringing the benefits of magnesium sulfate and aromatherapy to the shower with its recent launch of Ultra Moisturizing Body Wash, available in Soothe & Sleep with Lavender and Relax & Relief with Eucalyptus Spearmint.

While consumers undoubtedly want bath products that moisturize for softer skin and deodorize to help battle body odor, it is interesting to note that anti-aging attributes command the greatest consumer interest.

“When asked what product attributes they would be interested in seeing in their soap, bath and shower products in the future, product purchasers most commonly reported that they were interested in seeing anti-aging attributes,” Mintel stated.

The bottom line: Consumers have come to expect more from their bath products.

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Mavens seek ‘free’ products for youthful skin

BY Antoinette Alexander

Benefiting from a heightened focus on healthier, youthful-looking skin and a flawless complexion, sales within the facial cleanser segment are on the upswing.

(For the complete category review, including data, click here.)

According to data provided by IRI, sales of facial cleansers are up more than 3% for the 52 weeks ended May 18 at U.S. multi-outlets.

It is no secret that beauty mavens desire youthful skin and a flawless complexion, and that truly begins with a healthier daily skin care regimen. Washing away dirt and makeup each night before going to bed is critical, and that message seems to be resonating.

Also fueling growth within the segment is the fact that many Gen Y women are paying closer attention to their changing skin.

“This group still has skin care concerns from their youth — like oily skin, breakouts and keeping acne at bay. But they also start to shift their focus toward preventing wrinkles and lightening their dark spots caused by sun damage,” said Karen Grant, VP and global beauty industry analyst for the NPD Group.

According to NPD, women ages 25 years to 34 years represent 18% of all facial skin care users in the United States, and use an average of three facial skin care products daily, with facial cleansers topping the list.

When it comes to shopping the category, beauty mavens appear to be most interested in those products designed for sensitive skin. It isn’t about what’s in the product, but rather what is not.

Mintel estimates that sales of sensitive/gentle skin care products are more than $202 million, with the majority of sales coming from the facial cleanser and facial moisturizer segments.

Furthermore, Mintel’s research revealed that nearly 24% of facial skin care users say they look for products with natural, organic ingredients. Twenty-two percent seek out products that are free from certain ingredients — such as parabens or fragrances — and 21% are interested in items that are designed specifically for sensitive skin.

In line with these findings, IRI data revealed that within the top 10 facial cleanser brands at U.S. multi-outlets, Unilever’s Simple is the biggest gainer with a robust 24.5% boost in sales. The U.K. brand launched in the United States in 2012 with 13 products — cleansers, moisturizers, eye care products and wipes — designed for sensitive skin.

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Stopping the clock

BY Antoinette Alexander

When it comes to skin care, facial anti-aging potions still reign, as women continue their quest for younger, healthier looking skin. However, the mass market continues to face fierce competition, thanks to the flood of new products and affluent consumers migrating to premium solutions.

The economic downturn had prompted some affluent consumers to trade down to more affordable mass-market solutions and lower-income consumers to buy on discount or switch to private label but, with the lift in the economy, the pattern has seemed to shift in recent years.

“Consumers returned to premium products in 2011 and continued to do so in 2012. While advanced anti-aging technology increasingly is incorporated into mass-market products, many consumers believe that premium anti-agers still hold a performance edge over mass-market brands,” Mintel stated in its 2013 report, “Skin Care in the U.S.

That shift is evident in the most recent 52-week sales data provided by IRI, in which sales of facial anti-aging products decreased 2.8% at U.S. multi-outlets.

Meanwhile, the NPD Group recently reported that sales of prestige anti-aging products rose 4% to $436 million for the 12 months ended January 2014

Looking to remain competitive, mass-market brands continue to step up their game with formulas that tout new active ingredients and multi-functionality. Meanwhile, retailers continue to enhance their beauty departments to better compete with specialty beauty retailers and department stores. For example, Rite Aid’s revamped Beverly Hills store, which recently celebrated its grand re-opening, features an expanded beauty department with several new prestige cosmetic and skin care lines. Also new to the store is a Rite Aid Beauty Advisor specially trained to assist shoppers through demonstrations and education.

Target also is proving that it’s serious about beauty, staffing hundreds of its stores with beauty advisers, revamping the look and feel of its beauty department and now has stepped up its offerings by adding premium skin care products to 749 stores in the United States. The brands include Vichy, La Roche-Posay, MD Complete by Dr. Brian Zelickson, Laneige, 29 by Lydia Mondavi, Own Skin Health and Borghese Age Defying Cellulare Complex.

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