Convenience, variety and price have kept the supermarket channel the preferred destination for soap purchases, where it remains the No. 1 nonfood category.
Sales in the channel topped $1.05 billion, growing by more than 4%. That’s roughly half of the entire category sold through food-drug-mass, where sales reached $2.06 billion.
Two main factors spurred growth. One was sanitation, highlighted by the surge in sales of hand sanitizers. This subcategory is often merchandised in multiple locations within the store, in a variety of sizes. So, while the HBC aisle might offer a 16-ounce pump for the home or office, shoppers will also find personal sizes at checkout that fit in a handbag or briefcase.
A related growth item was liquid hand soap, known for touting its anti-bacterial properties. Here again, health concerns — in part spurred by coverage of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009 — were the primary purchase motive.
New value-added formulas in the liquid body wash subcategory is the other primary factor driving growth this past year, and helped make them among the top earners in the category, in terms of both sales, up 7.4%, and volume.