Category Insight: Liquid Soap Trends in the Personal Care and Household Sectors

With traditional bar soap sales declining across the globe, liquid soap is becoming a more attractive alternative with consumers in the personal care sector. In the household industry, liquid soap has always been an everyday solution to cleaning. This trends analysis looks into consumer behaviour, industry insights and forecasted trends to analyse the liquid soap market, and what is behind new product development within the sector.

We are exhibiting at In-Cosmetics, London, 4-6 April 2017. This is the ideal opportunity for us to showcase our range of Liquid Soap bases – offering a natural alternative to synthetic surfactants when used on their own or blended with natural surfactants. Customer interest and market analysis has led us to develop a range of application concepts in both the personal care and household sectors using a small selection of our liquid soap bases. Register your interest to receive a free liquid soap application guide for formulation ideas in the personal care and household sectors.

Personal Care

With liquid soap purchased by up to 96% of European consumers, and bar soap sales down by an average of 3% on last year, it is vital that soap companies and businesses are catering to this major shift in consumer behaviour (Mintel, 2016). Identifying the driving forces behind these changes is a key component to understanding how you can adapt to the market.

Hygiene and Health

According to a Mintel survey in 2016, over half of US consumers believed that bar soap harboured germs after use. Specifically, many 18 to 24 year olds are picking up liquid soap over the ‘old-fashioned’ bar soap as they perceive liquid soap to be more hygienic and anti-bacterial. However, research conducted by Which? (2016) indicates that there is little to no difference between the cleaning properties of bar soap and liquid soap.

In recent years, consumers have become more interested in leading a healthier lifestyle, making more informed and conscious purchasing decisions. These healthy and clean eating lifestyle changes will continue to have an impact on the ingredients and marketing claims used within the personal care sector. Mintel outlines that ingredients derived from superfoods, probiotics and vitamins will be driving new product development with bath and shower products. In addition to this 7% of new product launches within the liquid soap market featured a vegan marketing claim on packaging (Mintel, 2016)

Image Credit: Conscious Skincare


Consistent with previous years, products made with natural ingredients are growing in popularity among health-conscious consumers. As consumers are becoming more educated and concerned about ingredients used within the personal care sector, they are looking for milder and natural alternatives that they are not afraid to use on their skin. Ingredients used to manufacture bar soap, such as lye (or sodium hydroxide) and synthetic surfactants (such as sodium laurel sulfate), are known to consumers, and liquid soap gives them a more naturally formulated alternative.

Up to 50% of US and European consumers look for natural ingredients such as organic or natural essential oils and fruit extracts and packaging with a natural claim.


Research suggests consumers are opting for products that promote convenience on packaging claims, specifically in emerging countries where this can see an even wider global shift to liquid soap cleansing products (Mintel, 2016). As well as this, marketing a product as having multiple benefits is also a trend that more brands are picking up on, with 60% of consumers thinking that in-shower moisturisers will save them time. In-shower treatment products have plenty of space to grow within the marketplace, with 20% UK consumers using these products already.

Image Credit: Just Jodes


In this day and age most people use showers as a more eco-friendly part of their daily hygiene routine, as baths are wasteful of water and an increasing number of households don’t even have a bath tub. This has also contributed to the increase of liquid soap usage among consumers, with 76% of Chinese consumers choosing shower gels as part of their daily routine, as opposed to bar soap (24%).

Microbeads have also been a popular addition to liquid soap products in the personal care sector. However, with these microbeads under scrutiny from consumers and a ban imposed, brands will do well to draw attention to natural and biodegradable exfoliates within their products.

Mintel also forecasts that water-scarcity will lead to less luxurious packaging claims, with the speed of daily routine being important in reacting to water-scarcity scares.


If you take a minute to think about the household cleaning products you have at home, the chances are that nearly all of them are liquid soap or liquid detergent based products. Liquid soap has and will always be a widely used, everyday product in this sector. However it is still important to consider changes in consumer behaviour in order to keep up to date with the market, and develop new products that grab the consumers’ interest in a crowded marketplace.

Hard Surface Care

Including cleaning products from multi-purpose cleaning and tile care, to bleach and drain care, the hard surface care category contains the whole range of liquid cleaning products for the home. According to Mintel, multi-purpose household cleaners are leading new product development accounting for 38% of overall launches in this category in 2016, and metal cleaners have the least market share. The US is the largest market for household cleaners in the world, with sales topping $5 billion last year.

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Natural Cleaning

Mintel suggests that natural cleaning is the future of product development within the household cleaning sector, with 22% of US consumers already looking for natural ingredients in products they purchase. Up to 83% of European consumers have implied that they would purchase all natural surface cleaners if they matched other products on price and performance.

Consumers look for products that make claims that ingredients are from natural sources, such as botanical and herbal, organic or free from preservatives). Popular ingredients in natural cleaners include Lemon, Tea Tree Oil and Honeysuckle. It is also thought that nearly a third of people are still using traditional methods of cleaning in their homes with household ingredients such as baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar.

Product Safety

With growing concerns over the harshness of the chemicals used in household cleaning products, consumers are now looking for more natural and ‘clean’ products. There is growing interest for products that have been dermatologically tested, or are suitable for sensitive skin.

As well as this, consumers are interested in products that promote the safety of the family home. Development of products with antibacterial claims account for 28% of launch activity in this category, promoting a germ free home. Natural ingredients and product claims also help to reassure consumers here about the perceived safety of these products.

Image Credit: The Honest Company


Many consumers in the USA and Asia look for fragranced products that also act as odour-neutralisers. The fragrance of a product can also be a key factor in the purchasing decision, with citrus scents popular in the US to freshen up the home. There is demand for more exotic scents in this category, with gourmet or edible scents seeing an increase in sales throughout 2016.

Other popular fragrances around the world include lavender, pine, jasmine and mint.

Image Credit: Best Bathroom Design


With multi-purpose cleaner product sales topping the category, it is no surprise that consumers are interested in time-saving and convenient cleaning products. The most popular product claims include quick, fast and efficient and it is estimated that up to 40% of new products will reinforce convenience claims.

Products that can save the time that people spend on chores include stain removers, multi-purpose spray cleaners and wipes. Cleaning wipes that have specific purposes, such as floor, window or surface wipes are popular in the US and China and it is expected this trend will continue to increase around the world.


As a result of the huge shifts in consumer behaviour in this area, our formulation chemists have been researching natural surfactants that can be used with our liquid soap bases, as an alternative to the synthetic surfactants. From just a few of our liquid bases we have created a range of personal care and household application ideas to inspire your product range available below!

Download Liquid Formulations Guide

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