This month’s Market Review looks at the soap, bath & shower market; a global market worth some US $25.5billion.

Nov 2012 Growing

Nov 2012 Steady

Nov 2012 In Decline

Cleaning Up Globally


Solid performance

This is an area of the beauty, cosmetics and toiletries sector which can be regarded as relatively steady rather than dynamic. Of course, this is because usage of these products is already established among most of the populations; market growth largely depends on encouraging consumers to trade up. The most successful outcome of this strategy can be seen across three continents: with South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil showing the greatest growth rates.

A global market with local preferences

In most countries, the leading brands belong to the same global trans-national corporations. However, as always, each player has to adapt to the local conditions and cultural differences. Part of this is due to the physical nature of homes with the bath or tub being rare in some countries. Economic circumstances play a role – the traditional soap bar is economical while liquid formats work out more expensive to use. However, it is cultural and lifestyle considerations which are all-important; showers are well suited for hectic lifestyles and frequent bathers; baths are ideal for relaxation and where bathing is as much a ritual as a way of keeping clean.

Variable segmentation

As a result, the breakdown of the market into segments reveals more than merely sales data. Shower products have the largest proportion of sales in 22 of the 34 countries covered. They reign supreme in Spain accounting for over three quarters of sales. It is Japan where bath products enjoy over a quarter of sales, thereby qualifying as taking the highest of the soap, bath & shower budget of any country. When it comes to bar soap, it is India which has the most devotees, accounting for 97.5% of the market. Shower products and liquid soaps are yet to blossom but have much potential.

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