Mintel report reveals 9% increase in 2023 US soap, bath & shower product sales

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

"As consumers continually evaluate their personal care regimen, greater pressure will be put on quality and value, making transparency crucial to building brand loyalty and trust," said Joan Li, Senior Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. © Svitlana Hulko Getty Images
"As consumers continually evaluate their personal care regimen, greater pressure will be put on quality and value, making transparency crucial to building brand loyalty and trust," said Joan Li, Senior Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. © Svitlana Hulko Getty Images

Related tags Personal care products Hygiene consumer behavior

Between 2022 and 2023, the US soap, bath, and shower product market saw a noteable surge, reflecting evolving consumer trends and innovative product developments, according to a recent report by consumer insight firm Mintel.

According to a recently released Mintel report, US soap, bath, and shower product retail sales are estimated to have increased by 9% in 2023 from 2022. The trend, the report has revealed, can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the "benefit claims of cold showers and plunges," a growing preference by male consumers of all generators for "for men" products, and an increasingly prevalent belief that "gentle cleansing is non-negotiable," according to Mintel's press release regarding the report.

To learn more about Mintel's findings on current US trends in soap, bath, and shower products, we spoke to Joan Li, Senior Analyst, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel, for her insights.

Understanding the current landscape

Li began by noting that "this increase in retail sales for soap, bath, and shower products is largely driven by consumer interest in skin health and self-care rituals." She further explained that "as cleansing has become incorporated into broader beauty and health routines in consumers' mindsets, brands have met this shift with expanded benefits," which include, for example, "ingredients that address specific skin concerns such as rosacea and acne, gentle formulas, and aromatherapy experiences."

Li further noted that "consumers are becoming more experimental and open to nontraditional innovations thanks in part to the rise of personal hygiene influencers and trends." For example, she illustrated, "TikTok communities such as 'ShowerTok' have popularized unique exfoliation tools and cleansing steps, driving consumer curiosity and adoption of innovative products.'"

It's important to note, Li continued, that there are several main differences in performance across the soap, bath, and shower care segments of the personal care market, which are shaping the current industry landscape. While "liquid body wash and shower gels continue to dominate the market due to their convenience and variety," Li said, "hand cleansers, hand sanitizers, and bath products have slowed since the pandemic."

Additionally, "bar soap has seen modest growth as offerings within this segment expand to meet consumers' interests," she explained. "Looking ahead," she added, "the category's performance will be shaped by consumers' desire for convenient and accessible moments of self-care, which can include better formulas and benefits more customized to consumers' needs."

Specific trend impacts and market drivers

Further examination of specific trends reveals some of the opportunities that exist for brands in this space. For example, "the masculine grooming market is abundant with opportunities for brands that can offer tailored product lines," Li said. While "convenience and efficacy remain important to men's preferences," she explained, "self-care, wellness, and appearance-oriented results are all themes brands can leverage to expand their appeal to men's evolving interests." Further, "brands may also find it fruitful to update their marketing to men as definitions of masculinity continue to change," she added.

In addition to the evolution of men's grooming market preferences, there's an overall demand for more gentle cleansing products driven by "the rising awareness of skin health, skin sensitivity, and skin conditions," Li stated. "Consumers are looking for formulations that are free from harsh chemicals and non-stripping to their skin," and "brands are responding to this interest by launching lines that feature gentle claims and dermatologically tested products," she explained, like "clean formulas that are perceived to be both gentle and effective [which] further cater to this growing segment."

The trend of cold showers and water conservation tactics have also impacted consumer behavior toward soap, bath, and shower product demands. Cold showers "have gained traction for their purported health benefits, such as improved circulation and boosted immunity," Li said, and "water conservation is one such way consumers report practicing sustainable habits." As a result, "these shifts in preferences and behavior have prompted the development of multifunctional products and concentrated formulas that require less water to use."

While these trends drive shifts in the market landscape, industry stakeholders still need to navigate challenges like "balancing the demand for wellness and convenience-driven innovations with the need for sustainable ones," Li stated. Considering that "sustainability claims remain low in consumers' purchase priorities," she explained, stakeholders will need to "reinvigorate sustainable offerings such as bar soap to connect to consumers' expectations in efficacy, value, and innovation" and remain competitive.

Future outlook

Looking ahead, Li concluded that "the essential nature of cleansing anchors the category in stability in the coming years" and that "wellness, skin health, and convenience will continue to be key drivers, influencing product innovation and consumer preferences."

Further, she added, "as consumers continually evaluate their personal care regimen, greater pressure will be put on quality and value, making transparency crucial to building brand loyalty and trust."

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