Bar-Soap Sales Going Down the Drain

Many Americans are ditching bar soap in favor of its liquid counterpart. Discover which two groups are driving the trend.

When I was growing up, I used Dove bar soap to bathe. But I traded in the bar for liquid soap and shower gel nearly two decades ago.

I’m not alone in my preference for liquid soap. According to a new report from research firm Mintel, bar soap sales are on the decline in the U.S.

Between 2014 and 2015, sales of traditional bar soap — which account for roughly 30 percent of soap, bath and shower product sales — slumped by 2.2 percent, says Mintel. That occurred at the same time that soap and shower product sales rose by 2.7 percent.

The number of Americans using bar soap has also taken a hit. In 2010, about 89 percent of American households reported using bar soap to lather up. By 2015, the number dropped to 84 percent.

It turns out millennials and women prefer liquid soap over a good old-fashioned bar variety. The preference for liquid soap is largely based on a perceived “ick” factor of using bar soap to wash up.

Mintel found that about half (48 percent) of Americans think bar soap is covered in germs after use. Among millennials, that percentage jumps to 60 percent. Meanwhile, among Americans ages 65 and older, just 31 percent think that bar soap holds germs.

More than half of consumers (55 percent) also think that lathering up with a bar of soap is “less convenient” than using a liquid soap.

So who is using bar soap these days?

“Consumers who still buy bar soap, it turns out, have something in common: they tend to be over 60 years old and are men,” says CBS MoneyWatch.

Liquid body soaps were valued at $2.7 billion in 2015, and accounted for 47 percent of all sales in the soap, bath and shower product category.

Do you prefer bar soap or liquid soap? Sound off below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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