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How Today’s Audiences are Defining Personal Care

The actions we take in regards to our personal care are nuanced on a personal level. We are all starting to become more self-aware that our selves have unique goals and objectives.

Which is why the companies that produce the products that cater to our everyday needs are focusing on new ways to capture the attention of consumers. Brands both big and small are recognizing the hunger that consumers have for discovering novel solutions to the new priorities in their lives.

Women are exploring new brands unique to their physiology. Men are discovering ways to bring some sophistication back to their lifestyle. Millennials are increasingly concerned with the effects of cosmetics on animals and the environment. So what exactly does personal care mean in today’s global market?

Women: Redefining Beauty and Personalized Care

Women have consistently been the most active demographic in the personal care industry, but what connects women with brands has evolved over time. Today’s woman isn’t a single entity, but a vast collective of different personalities, backgrounds, and needs. Today’s woman is also someone who is redefining what is essential to beauty.

More and more women are viewing self-care as more than just lipstick and bubble baths. It’s about sometimes saying no, about creating time for oneself, about letting go and ‘sweating it out,’ and about the products that align with this concept of beauty.

76% of women like being able to find products for their specific skin tone, and 65% want products that match their skin microbiome, according to The Benchmark Group1

Women are also finding comfort in the ability to align brands with their specific skin types, ethnicities, and physicality. Our ability to formulate products on a microtargeted scale is allowing brands like Cantu to create lines of skin creams, makeup, and shampoos that condition in a more scientific way.

Lastly, women are looking at the ingredients that play a role in their products, opting for fewer parabens, fewer sulfates, and more natural ingredients. There is now the same amount of consideration for what a product is made with as the actual function the product performs.

Men: A Return Towards Gentleman’s Care

It’s easy to dismiss a guy’s personal care regiment as some no-fuss, 2-in-1 solution. White it’s true that the vast majority of guys use the grooming basics — shampoo (79%),2 soap (80%),3 and shaving (94%),4 — it’s also true that more than 22% of all men have a daily skin care routine, an area that’s experienced 7% growth in the last year.5

For today’s man, personal care is about embracing one’s unique style and adding a level of sophistication to the day to day. Artisanal barbershop are a common Main Street sighting, and the use of moisturizer and under-eye cream are no longer signs that a man is ‘high maintenance.’

Men are increasingly ditching basic ‘cut-and-go’ operations and opting for new-fashioned barbershop culture

Brands are recognizing this shift towards gentlemanliness and offering up products necessary for maintaining appearance, no matter what choices he makes (there are just as many products available for clean-shaven guys are there are to keep a beard properly maintained). Men represent a new frontier in personal care as a bloc that has largely been untapped, but showing promise among younger age groups.

Young Adults: A Social Responsibility

For teenagers and younger adults, personal care is about more than the functional. We hear a lot of talk about the apathy that younger generations have, but in reality they are more focused on the impact of personal care on society, the environment, and our psyche than any other group. They want to know what’s in their products, how they are tested, and where the ingredients were sourced.

Younger generations are seeing beauty beyond the traditional standard, and place a high value on responsible ingredients and manufacturing practices

There is also a large shift in younger attitudes towards what it means to be beautiful. Beauty is no longer a single unattainable image, but rather a celebration of sizes, skin tones, and social statuses. Beauty transcends the physical and into the social lives of individuals who celebrate what sets us apart.

That being said, young adults are still the most digitally-connected group, and are heavily influenced by what they see on their social feeds. At times this can present conflicts, where the most “in” product doesn’t align with their environmental concerns or goes against their anti-establishment groove.

Seniors: A New Frontier for Brand Use, Discovery, and Purchasing

Older generations are experiencing a shift in their own perceptions of personal care in that it’s not necessarily taboo to get old (but rather a badge of honor). Preconceived notions about what it means to be old are being challenged by the very group they represent.

Baby Boomers have a desire to break out of past behavior and explore new lifestyles (which can affect the products they choose to support those lifestyles). While traditional concerns like wrinkles and dry skin are still top-of-mind, they aren’t the only drivers for consumer choice. Brands today are focusing on celebrating age as opposed to merely avoiding it.

While older consumers are exploring new lifestyles and solutions to their personal care, they are also exploring new ways to research and buy

In addition, a lot has changed in regards to how seniors buy products. The Internet has influenced every demographic and market, but consumer goods companies have found older adults as a group that has bucked the trend of normal adaptation.

Older generations are less likely to buy online (although with 40% of those aged 65 and over buying online, it’s the highest this group has ever seen).6 Concurrently, when they research products, they are more likely to use traditional online means (more Google, less Instagram) and are increasing their online purchases as they become more tech savvy.

Kids: Safe and Soothing Care

While you’re not likely to get much of an answer from the source directly, today’s parents know what they want (or want to avoid) in their child’s personal care products. Following a string of lawsuits, education on digestion, and even social awareness around the environment, it’s clear that parents are making more active decisions about the products they use on their kids.

What changes the most are the ingredients to avoid. Some of the more known entities — parabens, sulfates, animal-based products — are becoming default no-nos. Others, such as vegan, no-soy, reef-safe, and cruelty-free, are typically decided on a case-by-case basis according to health and social preferences.

Parents are also looking for soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers to go further than “no more tears,” and provide benefits beyond the bath. Johnson & Johnson’s line of baby washes now include variations with lavender scents for bedtime calming, or special vapors to sooth fussy babies.

Parents are also spending more on these specialized products, adding to a $78 billion-dollar industry that is continuing to grow. Expect companies to continue to push for holistic care products, socially responsible manufacturing practices, and products that protect against harmful elements.

If there’s a single thread that connects all of these groups together, it’s a desire for more a la carté products that address specific needs that are important to every subset. Part of what makes up beauty and personal care’s overall market value is the variety in solutions, formulations, and brands.

The internet will continue to play a key role in our education of ingredients (as well as a main channel for buying products) but it’s going to be the social consensus that drives innovation. As we grow in our knowledge of how personal care is connected to our bodies and our interests, we should expect brands to find a way to connect as well.

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