US Bath Bomb Market Analysis
Lush, Da Bomb and Pearl Bath Bombs have very different strategies when it comes to attracting consumers. Lush has the advantage of being the first mover in the category and is a well-established brand available globally with standalone retail stores and bombs across multiple price points. In contrast, the other two brands are scrappy startups that focus on online or third-party distribution. Da Bomb is skewed far younger and relies on a great product, the novelty of a surprise inside each bomb, and tie-ups with prominent children-focused properties like Disney, Barbie, and Hot Wheels. Finally, Pearl Bath Bombs focuses almost exclusively on women (and by extension their children sometimes), with aspirational design and messaging. While they lure consumers with the promise of a surprise inside as well, their trinkets are delicate pieces of jewelry that are likely to appeal to fashionistas.
- Lush was founded in 1995 in Poole, England by Mark Constantine and Liz Weir, and launched in Canada in 1996 after being discovered by Mark Wolverton and Karen Delaney-Wolverton. Its headquarters are in Vancouver, Canada. It focuses on creating cosmetics with the freshest ingredients, with no supplier testing on animals, and an emphasis on ethical practices.
- Lush's main categories are cosmetics for Hair, Face, Body, and Bath and Shower. Zooming into Bath and Shower, they have a range of offerings under the categories of bombs, bars, gels and jellies, scrubs, shaving creams, body cleansers, and body butters and conditioners.
- Given the fact that the request is only interested in the bath bomb market, the team has looked at the pricing for only bath and shower items; the pricing for the other categories tends to be higher and would therefore distort any analysis. Currently, Lush has bath and shower offerings ranging from $3.95 (a single, lower-end bath bomb) to $59.95 (shower gels in the largest size of $59.95). Given the range, Lush can be said to span the price range from affordable to higher-end.
- Looking at bath bombs only, Lush's prices range from $4.95 to $9.95 (although the latter includes three bath bombs.) The most expensive single-item bath bomb is currently the Turmeric Latte at $8.95. Their bestselling bath bombs are Sex Bomb ($7.95), Avobath ($7.45), and Butterball ($5.25), which would place them in the mid- to high-price range for their bath bombs. They also have a "cult classic" of Intergalactic ($7.95).
- $712.32m (may go up to $1,420m if joint ventures and overseas tie-ups are included)
- Lush does not release their profit margin and is not required to disclose other financial information as they are a private company. Therefore, their profit per unit and the cost of the goods sold are not available.
- However, the team's research revealed that a homemade bath bomb can cost as little as $0.25 per bomb. Keeping in mind that homemade bath bombs may have very different quality, ingredients, and economies of scale as Lush, this means that Lush may be making a profit of $4.70 to $9.70 ($4.95 and $9.95 less $0.25) per bomb on the product alone, not including overhead, etc.
- Given their stated values of ensuring their products are organic, animal-friendly, and eco-friendly, Lush targets eco-conscious shoppers who care about both themselves and the world around them.
- Lush also deliberately uses male and female models to adhere to one of their main values, which is inclusivity. However, looking at the hashtag #lushies on Instagram, most posts seem to be made by women who are interested in the bright colors, nice scents, and overall bath experience of their bath bombs.
Main Sales Channel:
- Lush relies heavily on in-store retail. Online represents only 11% of its sales.
Main Marketing Channel/Activities:
- According to Lush's global property director, Paul Wheatley, online is only a complement to the in-store experience. For the brand, brick-and-mortar stores continue to be a compelling channel.
- However, Lush has still managed to capture attention online. This is especially given the colorful, perfect-for-viral nature of their bath products, which have been posted by influencers like Jeffree Star and Kim Kardashian (without prompting).
- Lush also releases seasonal products to drive interest, and regularly removes product (like this "leaving soon" Blue Gardenia Salt Cube Bath Bomb) from their lineup.
- Lush stands out for its commitment to ethical practices, with a focus on environmental and social responsibility. While these values have become important to many other companies over the years, Lush has been committed to them from the start and therefore has created a strong brand image linked to a sense of purpose.
- Lush has also been the creator of several cult products including the solid shampoo bar and the bath bomb (with the latter being its best-selling range even after three decades), meaning that it's managed to create a name for itself in terms of quality, fun, and innovation as well. This is backed up by its fans, who eagerly wait for new launches and maintain a passionate discussion on phased-out products.
- Da Bomb was created by two sisters who wanted more from their bath bombs. The youngest was 10 when they started, and eight years later, they now have a product line that's sold online and at a string of major retailers, including Target, Ulta Beauty, Kohls, CVS, and more. They are headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have over 200 employees.
- Bath bombs, bath bomb jars (jars with smaller bombs), bath salts, "bath shots" (which are granulated and contain either bath salts or foaming fizz), body scrubs, and bath tablets.
- Da Bomb's top five bestselling bath bombs are the Glow Bomb, the Ariel Bath Bomb, the Dragon Bomb, the Galaxy Bomb, and the Disco Bomb. They are all $7.50 each, which is the same price as all the other brand's bath bombs and is equivalent to a mid-priced Lush bath bomb.
- Looking at their bath bomb and bath-bomb-adjacent products, the team found that each category only had one price, despite the wildly varying options within each (including tie-ups with licensed Disney properties).
- Their bath bombs are $7.50 each on their website. The bath bomb jars are $25 and have six bath bombs, although these are smaller at 1.5 ounces each vs. the regular bath bomb which are 7 ounces each. Fizzlets are $13 and weigh about 11 ounces total.
Revenue and Cost per Item:
- The brand is privately held so no financial information is available, but they were projected to make over $20m in 2018.
- Their profit per unit and the cost of the goods sold are also not available. However, an online search revealed that a homemade bath bomb can cost about $0.25 per bomb. Keeping in mind that homemade bath bombs may have very different quality, ingredients, and economies of scale as Da Bomb, this means that their bath bomb profit on the product alone (not including overhead, partnership costs, etc.) might be somewhere around $7.25 (usual bath bomb price of $7.50-$0.25). Note that this computation does not include the cost of the trinket inside, since there is no available data on that.
- There is no available information that explicitly describes Da Bomb's target market. However, Given Da Bomb's name, sales channels (chain stores and online), selling proposition (contains a surprise inside), and partnerships (Disney Princesses, Hot Wheels, Barbie), Da Bomb will most likely appeal to younger consumers than Lush. They might be moms buying bath toys for their children, given the tie-ups, or teens and younger adults looking for fun gimmicks.
- It is worth noting that this price is equivalent to a mid-priced bath bomb at Lush, despite their younger-looking positioning. This may be because parents are often more willing to spend on their children versus themselves.
Main Sales Channel:
- Da Bomb relies heavily on third-party retail chains, as well as its website.
Main Marketing Channel/Activities:
- Da Bomb's marketing materials all focus on their playful names (like their famous "F-Bomb") and their unique selling proposition of having a surprise inside each bomb.
- Based on their press coverage, the sisters are often featured on podcasts and in magazine articles on how they've managed to build a multi-million-dollar business at such a young age.
- The brand's social media accounts are relatively inactive, posting two to three times a month.
- The brand also actively sponsors communities in Africa with part of their proceeds in cooperation with The Water Project.
- However, there does not seem to be a main channel to decisively push their products. This may be because they focus on having strong partnerships with powerful brands like the aforementioned Disney, Barbie, and Hot Wheels. With these, they can depend on their retail partners to do the marketing for them, especially as those are their main sales channels.
- Da Bomb's competitive advantage rests on their strong partnerships with established kid brands and national retail chains; a reputation for great products, and most importantly their unique selling proposition of a surprise inside each bomb. These allow them to avoid competing head-on with Lush, which would otherwise dominate the category, as the latter's strategy is far more self-reliant and whose emphasis on natural precludes as much plastic (which Da Bomb uses for trinkets) as possible.
Pearl Bath Bombs
- Pearl Bath Bombs was launched in 2015 after Tessa Medlock was inspired by her boyfriend's proposal (he hid the ring in a bath bomb).
- The company is headquartered in Chicago, where all the products continue to be made.
- Aside from a variety of Ring Bath Bombs (bombs with rings inside them), they have a Kids offering (comes with toys instead of rings), and a Pearl Naturals line (all-natural and no rings).
- Aside from the trinkets, each Ring Bath Bomb also comes with a redemption code that gives you a chance to win a ring worth up to $5,000.
- They currently have a Halloween offering, involving themed Ring Bath Bombs.
- The top post on Instagram for #pearlbathbombs is the brand's video featuring their Halloween bath bombs (Poison Apple, Death by Roses, Boo Bomb)
- The top five bestsellers for the brand currently are the Nightmare Before Bathtime box with three bath bombs ($45.75), the Bewitched box with two bath bombs ($33.20), the Donut Worry, Be Happy box with two bath bombs ($35.91), the Death by Roses Coffin bomb ($19.95), and the Caramel Pumpkin ($16.95). The boxes are all currently on sale, while the individual bath bombs fall into the low- to mid-price tier for the brand. Given how expensive the brand is, the bestseller status for these items is likely due to a combination of seasonal appeal and their marked-down prices.
- The bath bombs range in price from $15.95 to $24.95. They also have gift packs from $87.75 for 5 to $33.90 for two. This makes Pearl Bath Bombs far and away the most expensive bath bomb in the trio of companies, with prices at least double that of Lush and Da Bomb.
- The bath bombs for kids range from $9.95 to $14.95.
- The Pearl Naturals line is $26 for a bath soak.
- Finally, they have a subscription box that comes with 2-3 items for $49.95 (although it's currently on sale for $32.95).
Revenue and Cost per Item:
- The business is privately held so they are not required to disclose their financial information, but when it was launched in 2015 it was an immediate hit with revenues of $1.7m and a profit of $800,000 in the first five and a half months.
- The brand's profit per unit and the cost of the goods sold are also unavailable, as this information is usually considered confidential. However, the team's research revealed that a homemade bath bomb can cost about $0.25 per bomb. Keeping in mind that homemade bath bombs may have very different quality, ingredients, and economies of scale as Pearl Bath Bombs, this means that they may be making $15.70 to $24.70 ($15.95- $0.25, 24.95-$0.25) on each bomb alone, not including the ring, overhead, partnership costs, etc.
- Note that while Pearl Bath Bombs claims each ring is valued at $30-$75 each, Pearl Bath Bombs purchases them at wholesale prices. There is no available data on their actual purchase cost, so the team cannot factor it into the computation.
- Pearl Bath Bombs have a very specific demographic. They are targeted to women who are looking to "treat themselves", as hashtagged on their main page. While they do have a kids line, this can be seen as a spin-off of their main product line and is still potentially targeted to the same women, although in their capacity as mothers.
Main Sales Channel:
- There is very little information about the brand online, although according to an interview done in 2017, the brand's focus then was on growing internationally (although they're currently only shipping to the US) and bulk buys like wedding showers.
- They also have a subscription box.
Main Marketing Channel/Activities:
- There is very little information available on the brand's marketing activities, although they have social media channels. Their posts are active and the Instagram engagement on the #pearlbathbombs hashtag is very high. This is likely their main engagement channel, especially as all sales are done online.
- Pearl Bath Bombs occupies a unique niche in the bath bomb space given their tight focus on women who enjoy treating themselves to both luxurious skincare and something chic to wear.
- This advantage is communicated very well in their look and feel, which is far from the usual neon pops of color and sense of fun that the other brands have. Instead, they feature photos of luxurious baths, hands with long-tipped and manicured fingernails, and delicate jewelry designs. In this way, they are both functionally and aesthetically set apart from the other two bath bomb brands, which focus more on fun for younger, more playful demographics.
In order to formulate the analysis above, the team looked at each brand's owned assets like their website and social media, their press releases, and third-party coverage from credible sources like news establishments and advertising/marketing trade publications. Prices reflect the costs online at the time of this writing, before tax. In the case of Lush, the prices assume the items are to be bought from the a La Moana (Honolulu) standalone store, as the website requires a location to generate prices.