Category insight: bar soaps on the rise

Following the decline over the past few years, soap bars are making a comeback with sales increasing by 3%. To make the most of this trend here is some information on the growing trends and claims that can make the soap bars category even more attractive in 2019.

According to the latest articles about soap bars on the rise, it is not surprising that the main reasons behind this are raising consumer awareness and changing preferences for more natural and plastic-free personal care products. With this in mind, consumers seek to stop buying shower gels and go for plastic-free alternatives like bar soaps.

With climate change and the awareness of plastic waste increasing, environmentally friendly packaging is not just a trend; it is a movement of the whole beauty industry, and brands are taking notice. In fact, according to Mintel Research, ethical packaging was the 6th top claim appearing among New Product Developments (NPD) in the personal care sector throughout 2018, following Paraben-Free, Dermatologically Tested, Moisturising and Hydrating, Ethical Cruelty-free, and the top Natural/ Botanical claims. It seems that this category will see more growth in the future, as consumers are increasingly embracing the zero-waste movement globally.

Interestingly, bar soap grew the most over the same period compared to liquid soap and shower gel categories according to Kantar Worldpanel analysts. Growth appears to be highest in supermarket stores such as Waitrose, which reported a 7.1% increase. Similarly, soap bars seem to be growing on the premium side as well with Jo Malone and Chanel already marketing their luxury bars.

While soap bar sales increase, the personal care market is also more likely to see more new product launches and bar forms are likely to see more development too in other personal care products, for example, conditioning bars, solid shampoos and massage bars etc. that require little or no packaging.

Packaging free Soap

Image Credit: Annie Spratt – Packaging free Soap

Looking inside soap products, the opportunities are vast for innovation as consumers look beyond the cleansing properties in soap products. Claims addressing hydration benefits, pH neutrality and suitability for sensitive skin are also on the increase.

To add, bar soaps can tap well into growing wellbeing trends as of Mintel Consumer report for 2019 with products offering convenience, naturalness etc.

While product formulations are important, plastic-free and eco-packaging solutions will be as critical to appeal for future consumers. Brands can increase their sales by offering great cosmetic products, which are packaging free, refillable or use recycled plastic.


Stephenson offers a range of products on trends for brand manufacturers, contract manufacturers and brands. Our newest ultra-mild base Syndopal is adaptable for cosmetic, premium mass market and pharmacy applications and for the first time, provides manufacturers to high-speed syndet bar production without the need for specialist equipment. It is suitable for a variety packaging-free soap bars, cosmetic bars and conditioners. For more information enquire here.

With sustainability in mind, Stephenson also provides natural and RSPO certified bases for manufacturing of RSPO certified soap bars.

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