The importance of keeping hands clean and hygienic is often a lesson targeted at children, however it seems that UK adults have also been busy scrubbing up their hand washing routine. New research from Mintel reveals that over a third (35%) of adults are washing their hands more frequently than they were three years ago, rising to 42% of mothers with children under 16.

Further showing that consumers are lathering up more often, the proportion of Brits buying liquid hand soap at least once a month has risen from 56% in 2013 to 62% in 2014. Whilst overall Brits are more likely to purchase liquid soap than bar soap (71% of Brits buying bar soap compared to 87% choosing liquid), it seems that the genders are divided when choosing how to keep clean. The vast majority (91%) of UK women buy liquid hand soap, compared to 83% of men, whilst men are more likely to buy bar soap with three quarters (75%) buying this variety compared to 68% of women.

The proportion of Brits buying liquid hand soap at least once a month has risen from 56% in 2013 to 62% in 2014

Showing that consumers are also choosing to fight germs on the go, today over half (58%) of Brits purchase hand sanitiser gel, with a third (33%) buying hand sanitiser gel once a month or more. It seems that young consumers are even more enthusiastic over keeping hands spic and span with three-quarters (75%) of 16-24s purchasing hand sanitiser gel and one in 10 (11%) buying it once a week or more.

Charlotte Libby, Senior Beauty Analyst at Mintel, said:

“With health scares making headlines around the world throughout 2014, the spread of disease has raised awareness of how hand hygiene plays a part in preventing infection, causing an increase in the frequency of consumers washing their hands. The large majority of young Brits purchasing hand sanitiser shows that, despite preconceptions, this group have a particularly cautious attitude towards spreading germs.”

Despite the growth in handwashing, overall the soap, bath and shower category has experienced declining sales over the past two years, falling from £660 million in 2012 to an estimated £638 million in 2014. Moreover, as consumers have shifted towards more economical bathing routines, the sector may be faced with further stormy waters.

Indeed, whilst one in five (21%) Brits are taking fewer baths per week compared to three years ago, 16% say they are taking less time in the bath and 14% say they are using less water. And while a quarter (25%) of Brits say they have increased the number of showers they take per week, one in 10 (11%) say they use less water in each shower compared to three years ago and 10% say they are taking less time per shower.

Consumers have started to realise that being environmentally friendly can translate to money-saving and are making greener choices to benefit their own pockets. Changing consumer perceptions of taking a bath as being more costly or time-consuming than showering is essential to restore sales growth to the bath products segment.” added Charlotte.

Furthermore, whilst on the whole Brits are taking less baths, it seems that the tub has found a new fan club in younger males, with a quarter (25%) of men aged 16-24 claiming that their bathroom is their sanctuary compared to a national average of 19%. In addition, one in five (22%) men in this age group also say they are taking more baths compared to three years ago.

Young men can prove an important target for innovation in the soap, bath and shower sector, and could be encouraged into habits that they maintain as they age.” Charlotte concludes.

Press review copies of the Soap, Bath and Shower Products, UK 2015 report and interviews with Senior Beauty Analyst, Charlotte Libby, are available on request from the press office.

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