Randall Radic

Randall Radic is the author of a number of non-fiction books, including A Priest in Hell and The Sound of Meat. He lives in Northern California

Randall Radic has written 4 articles for SB Informer.
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The Sweet Smell of Success

Specialty bath and body products are becoming more and more popular.

Randall Radic

November 13, 2012

2.5/5.0 (2 votes total)

The world is going green, which means boutique gift shops are sitting in the cat-bird seat when it comes to wholesale gift items. Why? Because the more exclusive the shop, the faster they can react and change their product lines. The big chain stores can’t do that. Their very momentum becomes a form of inertia. 

Take bath and body products, for example: natural products packaged correctly and made with environmentally friendly ingredients are green and therefore in vogue. If they’re made in America, that’s even better. And ‘artisan’ makes them special. Those are the trends.

Today’s environmentally conscious consumers know what they want. They’re smart and getting even smarter. They read the labels on each bottle of lotion, conditioner, body-wash, and had soap. They desire natural ingredients – scents, butters, and oils – that are free from harmful chemicals. At the same time, they want the product to smell good and look good. In other words, they want to be stimulated in two different ways: scent memory and visually. If it isn’t stunning, they won’t buy it.

To find out more about this phenomenon, I visited a local boutique called ‘Lotions and Potions,’ an upscale body and bath shop for discriminating patrons in San Francisco. Lotion and Potions’ most popular fragrances are Lavender Rosemary, Tea Tree Peppermint, Sandalwood Vanilla, Ocean, and Coconut Lemongrass.

When it comes to soap, a vanilla-based scent called Vanilla Fudge has found favor among both female and male customers. Vanilla Fudge soap combines a chocolate-colored foundation with a creamy top sprinkled with myriad multi-hued scent beads. The proprietor of the shop, Liv, explained that most of her customers were looking for personal indulgences, but that many of them later returned to purchase the same items as gifts. A bar of artisan soap runs $6 or $7, which makes for a very reasonable gift that is personal and luxurious, rather than impersonal like a gift certificate.

Liv went on to say that bath and body products have become a popular choice as hostess gifts. “They’re the new bottle of wine.” It lasts longer and it’s more personal. And most women seem to prefer the liquid soaps over the bar soaps as gifts. Bar soaps are more of a personal indulgence, she explained. “Very long lasting, which means they can be justified as a great value.”

Blended scents are the rage right now. People seem to desire a combination of scents rather than a single scent, such as lavender or watermelon standing alone. Now the industry blends the scents. The result is lavender-watermelon or lemon-coconut. Complexity equals interesting when scents are involved.

Most of the better specialty soaps and lotions are only available from small boutique shops. “I don’t know whether it’s because the big stores don’t care or can’t be bothered,” said Liv, with a wink. “But it’s just as well, because it keeps the small boutiques in business.”  


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