By AJ Willingham
Let's fight about soap. What's there to discuss, you ask? Plenty, if new consumer research is to be believed.
Apparently, there is a serious ideological divide when it comes to bar soap and the people who put it on their bodies.
For one, bar soap sales are declining.
What was once a staple of our daily ablutions is being eclipsed by fancy-pants body washes and other cleaning options.
According to research from Mintel, a marketing intelligence agency, bar soap sales fell 5% between 2010 and 2015.
Mintel says bar soap "suffers from several negative perceptions." Forty eight percent of consumers think bar soaps can be a haven for bacteria and other decidedly unclean stuff. Young consumers believe this the most, with 60% of soap buyers between the ages of 18-24 saying they are squicked out by the idea of germs on their soap.
(For the record, there's research going back as far as 1988 that says, while bacteria might be present on a bar of soap, the likelihood it will hurt you or even transfer to your skin is really low.)
But wait, there's more
There's more to this emerging "Bar soap is for old people" theory: One third of the 25-35 year-old set would never use bar soap on their face, as opposed to about 60 percent of people aged 65 and up.
Overall, 55% of consumers also thought bar soap, which has a tendency to slip around and puff up when left to its own devices after a wash, is less convenient than liquid options.
Talk amongst yourselves
Bath product preferences are a deeply personal, so there may be some trepidation in discussing soap among friends.
Please, buck the taboo!
Are there any bar soap die-hards out there? Is it really that much more inconvenient than liquid soap, which requires a secondary item (washcloth, scrub, puff, etc) to be optimally applied? What is the best way to keep bar soap from making like a greased-up pig and shooting our of our hands mid-shower?
This may be the biggest deterrent from the bar soap lifestyle. No wonder people think it's full of germs if it spends half of its life trying to escape down the drain! There's a lot to unpack here, so don't be shy.
The future of our hygiene depends on it.