Baby Boomers: How New Parents Have Allowed the Baby Care Segment to Grow Up
Baby care is growing into a more sophisticated, prestige segment
Baby Boomers How New Parents Have Allowed the Baby Care Segment to Grow Up
Once upon a time, baby care consisted of diaper cream and tear-free bubble bath. Today, the segment has grown into a multi-tiered industry, offering complete product lines that focus on skin, hair, and oral care needs. In fact, premium baby care itself is valued at $5.6 billion with a 3.3% CAGR.1
Brands are offering shampoos with natural ingredients, innovative packaging for on-the-go use, and skincare lines formulated to protect a newborn’s microbiome. And while even though the global birth rate is stagnant (or decreasing in some parts) parents are buying more masstige and luxury products, moving the industry forward.
All of this is a recipe for the type of innovation that brings new brands to market, opens doors to new product types, and reformulates for the literal consumers of tomorrow.
One of the biggest influences in the baby care market today (and pretty much every time this particular market changes) is the parents themselves. With baby care being in the unique position of swapping out consumers every generation or so, consumer tastes change accordingly. Today, those driving brand focus in baby care are millennials.
Millennial consumers want products made with natural and organic ingredients, brands that support sustainable supply chains, and companies that subscribe to the same social and ethical mindsets they do.
Millennial parents are also hyper-aware of what they use on their children, often applying their own preferences for brands onto their preferences for their children’s brands. This has encouraged even the highest luxury skincare brand to venture into the baby care segment.
Consumers are willing to pay for products they see as contributing to the greater good. The eco-tech company GreenPrint found that 64% of Americans are willing to pay more for sustainable products,3 and another study found that 83% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that supported social causes.4 Brands are recognizing this and stepping up.
Millennials are now the largest consumer demographic ($1.4 trillion of disposable income in 20205) and fall squarely in the age range of most baby care consumers
Expanding the Baby Care Segment
This trend for today’s parents to invest more in quality over quantity has helped to fuel smaller upstart brands that focus on alternative ingredients and product types. According to Euromonitor, more than 75% of the $300 million U.S. premium baby care market was controlled by brands with a market share of less than 2.5%.6
This in turn is driving innovation into new product types, ingredient use, and distribution options. We’re seeing balms designed to help babies sleep, a range of formulations with only plant-based materials, and subscription services catering to busy moms and dads.
We’re also seeing a proliferation of influencers starting to talk about baby care the same way they do in other personal care categories. Many of these ambassadors previously focused on their insights in skincare or makeup, and after becoming parents themselves, naturally extended into the segment.
@raising_missjosie documents the life of her daughter Josie, often promoting skincare brands that support their active lifestyle. @divinemlee connects the dots between baby care and personal health, often promoting a simple takeaway: take care of yourself, take care of your baby, and be mindful of the products you use.
Brands Making an Impression
These personal care names are blazing the path forward in men’s grooming.
In today’s retail market, consumers have placed a premium on products that offer convenience and on-the-go applications. Neutrogena’s Wet Skin Kids is a waterproof 70+ SPF that can be applied directly to wet skin whenever and wherever you need to reapply.
Formulated with their patented helioplex SPF, the product is designed to protect against a broad spectrum of UVA/UVB rays. It’s also offered in a deodorant-like stick format.
Pipette has been connecting with consumers looking for clean ingredients and sustainable corporate values. Their baby care line includes vegan-friendly formulations, biodegradable packaging, and plant-based alternatives to one of the 2,000 toxic or irritating ingredients the company pledges not to use.
Many formulations include their proprietarily derived ingredient, squalane. Squalane is a sugarcane-derived alternative to squalene, an important but sometimes unstable molecule.
In the first few weeks of a newborn’s life, their skin is working hard to develop the lipids and peptides needed to replace the vernix that initially protects a baby’s skin. Since newborn skin is so sensitive, products need to avoid disrupting the natural process.
Dove’s hypoallergenic baby care line includes gentle formulations designed to keep a baby’s pH where it needs to be (pH playing an important role in the skin’s microbiome health).
Dr. Barbara Sturm has been hailed as a pioneer in ‘performance-based skincare’ and has used her medical background to develop a luxury skincare line for newborn skin. Originally an anti-inflammatory orthopedist, she wanted to create a brand that represents her ethos of credibility and innovation.
Their baby care line is formulated without the use of toxic or harmful ingredients and utilizes raw materials like jojoba to hydrate and chamomile extract to soothe and calm.
With all of the potential innovation and product expansion, the baby and infant care personal care segments are ones to watch. We should expect continued growth in product sales, with an expanded selection of product types and new brand launches.
The Bright Outlook to Sun Care
The segment in beauty care has a bright outlook
The Bright Outlook
to Sun Care
It’s easy to overlook sunscreen. Even though it’s been a pivotal growth engine for personal care, we often find ourselves forgetting about it until we’re heading to the beach or about to step onto the green. However, brands across the spectrum are championing SPF as a daily essential.
We’re outdoors a lot more than we think, and sun exposure is far-reaching with long-lasting effects on our skin’s health. That’s why innovators in the segment are looking to redefine what sunscreen is and how we use it.
What if for example, instead of protecting against UV exposure sometimes, we prioritized sun protection every day of the week, all year long, indoors and out? What if, in addition to sun protection, and SPF helped combat acne, wrinkles, and blue light damage?
Brands have been embracing this mindset for years, but consumers have been slow to adapt. That’s changing, as more shoppers are looking for prestige SPFs, particularly those that serve a dual purpose or are made with mineral ingredients.
From left to right, top to bottom, brands tackling SPF and skincare together: Farmacy, Fenty Skin, Aveda, Glossier, Garnier, Oars + Alps, Origins, Drunk Elephant, Olay, Cardon, MAC Cosmetics, Supergoop!, Eleven by Venus, Ultra Violette, Saie, Versed, Everyday Humans, Dermalogica, CeraVe, Dr. Lara Devgan, Banana Boat, Solara, Cocokind, Jaxon Lane
This realignment is growing the sun care segment, which has a 3.5% CAGR and expected to be valued at $16.8 billion by 2027.1 While the segment did experience a significant decrease in 2020 (8.7%), analysts expect sales to rebound as vacations resume, and education on daily SPF use increases.
As brands reach out and connect with the consumers looking to reprioritize sun protection, the industry should expect a strong decade of innovation. Even today, subcategories for mineral SPFs and makeup SPFs are up growing at a rate of 5% and 16% respectively,2 and Google reports that keyword searches for ‘SPF moisturizer’ have increased 204% over the decade.3
Innovation will also be seen as brands address the unique needs of different consumer niches. SPF use in women is more than double that of men, but men are more likely to re-apply throughout the day — both use cases that can affect the adoption of new product types.
Furthermore, mineral sunscreens are often reef-safe and sans the greasy feeling, but can leave darker skin tones with a white cast. Consumers need products that not only address their personal needs but are practical enough for everyday use.
So what’s next for sun care? These are some of the trends we are likely to see over the next year and beyond.
The Return of the Road Trip
While outdoor social distanced gatherings should always come with a side of SPF, the easing of guidelines and a return to normal will lead to a rebound of vacations, concerts, and other missed activities. Sun care unit sales were down 12.3% by the end of 2020,2 so brands are eager to rebound.
Two Uses are Better Than One
Dual-purpose sunscreens are a main driver for growth and have a huge potential for expanding the category into new consumer markets. We want our post-shower moisturizer to protect us from UV rays, yes, but we also want them to combat redness and protect against blue light damage.
All across beauty care — from face, to hair, to body — in women’s, men’s, or baby — almost every segment has the potential for new brand launches.
Combating SPF’s Shady Reputation
There are a few barriers that consumers have to increase their use of SPF (let alone using it in the first place). That greasy, coconut experience pairs well with the pool but not so much with the office. Mineral sunscreens have been able to design lighter, more oil-free formulations, but have the tendency to leave a white cast on darker skin types.
The innovation that will address these concerns will include new fragrance options, vegan formulations, on-the-go packaging options, and ingredient alternatives.
Heightened Consumer Awareness
Consumers are very interested in knowing what goes into their personal care products and are eager to seek out new trends. This has put sun care in the spotlight, like the most recent news about unsafe benzene levels found in several brands.
Consumers will be paying attention to ingredient lists, manufacturing process, and what effect it has on the ecosystem. Transparency will be table stakes for disruptors.
Overall, sun care is one of the fastest-growing, dynamic segments in beauty and personal care today. Our idea of what and SPF is, the ingredients that protect us from ultraviolet rays, and the daily rituals we possess around sun care will continue to evolve, spurring a golden era of innovation.
Hair Care Trends
If our industry enters a new roaring twenties of brand exploration and development, hair care is sure to shine.
This Year’s Hair Care Trends
It may be somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but if our industry enters a new roaring twenties of brand exploration and development, hair care is sure to shine.
Hair care is growing into a new phase of innovation — one with brands diving into the who, what, and how of follicles and what truly keeps our heads nourished and maintained.
The growth rate among brands in the category is driven by a convergence of awareness and exploration. Consumers are excited to research and try out new brands, particularly when it comes to hair care (especially since the pandemic). Our focus on topics like clean beauty and sustainability has been supercharged and we’re ready to double down.
Here are some innovations in hair care that are trending:
The motto for shampoo used to be lather, rinse, repeat. Nowadays, consumers understand the science of scalp care and why daily washes may not be the best for our overall sebum levels.
“Shampoo is an emulsifier that captures and traps excess oil, dirt, and product residue,” Angela Lamb, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai told WebMD.1 Shampoo in effect rinses out both the good and bad of what we have on our heads.
Brands like Unwash are educating consumers on the side effects of daily shampooing and the hair health benefits to approaching hair washing differently.
This education and awareness are leading some consumers to rethink their current brands and try out ‘alternative shampoos.’ Many personal care experts agree that only a small number of us need to shampoo every day. Fitness buffs and those in humid climates will benefit from daily sudsing, but the rest of the population need a few skip days (and maybe a spritz of dry shampoo).
It sounds like a Macy’s/Gimbels gambit, but by getting consumers to use their product less, hair care brands can push more masstige products and increase sales.
Living a Sulfate-Free Lifestyle
Brands are formulating innovations in hair care and rethinking the ingredients that do or do not belong. Taboo additives — like sulfates and silicones, alcohols and abrasives, synthetics and sodiums — are all being reconsidered in the quest to develop healthier hair.
This reformulation sometimes requires a reboot of our perceptions of what a product does or how it behaves. Sulfates, for example, are widely used in shampoos and are often responsible for the product’s foaming nature. As a detergent, they’re also responsible for stripping essential oils when we shampoo. Replacing sulfates oftentimes requires an adjustment to our expectations of a shampoo (and that yes, it is still cleaning your hair).
Consumers want to explore products sans sulfates and silicons. They want tea tree oil for retaining moisture, rambutan seed for deodorization, and apple extract to regulate the sebum levels. Beard oils with ginger root can bring anti-aging benefits. Japanese camellia in serums help smooth hair cuticles. The options for moving onto new ingredients have never been greater.
With the clean beauty movement being redefined from the pandemic, it’s now one of the most crucial table stakes in the game.
Men’s Hair Goes Masstige
In the battle for market share in men’s grooming, hair care is entering a new phase of growth. Male grooming overall has seen a 5.2% CAGR and is expected to reach $81.2 billion by 20242 (with hair care being a key component to that growth).
A primary driver of men’s care masstige is the education on the benefits of good hair hygiene and the innovation of brands catering to hair loss, beard care, and better shampoo. Minoxidil is no longer the only treatment for thinning hair and 2-in-1 shampoos are no longer a shower caddy litmus test.
Brands are emerging with an endless line of grooming products that cater to today’s man. These include shampoos with carefully curated scents, beard oils that include ingredients to stimulate growth, and an array of pomades, waxes, and fibers that go far beyond dollar-bin hair gel. Many brands are also developing formulations that address genetic backgrounds, from those with thin to textured hair.
From L to R: Duke Cannon Supply Co., Pete & Pedro
It should be noted that the comeback of barbershop culture and the rise of influencers has helped bring the male demographic on board as well. Both barbers and social gurus are effective ambassadors in educating a new class of guys on hairstyle trends, fashion choices, product categories, and how all of them come together to make a well-groomed man.
Color & Co.
A Whole New Pallete of Hair Care
It’s no secret to anyone that hair coloring has been a major part of the market for decades, but today’s coloring products aren’t what they used to be. With advancements in formulation, packaging, and logistics, hair coloring is reaching a golden age.
Shifts in consumer behavior during the pandemic have led to massive growth in hair coloring products. At the start of the pandemic — when lockdowns were at their peak — sales for hair coloring grew 172 percent.3 This spike was largely caused by a huge demand for at-home products as many salons were shuttered or closed entirely.
However easy it might be, it’s unfair to credit the pandemic for the entirety of hair coloring’s recent numbers. In actuality, advancements made before 2020 were what allowed the at-home trend to be as successful as it was. Brands have spent the last several years improving online commerce and direct-to-consumer shipping, they’ve developed easier and less messy ways to color, and AI has allowed consumers to choose colors that have essentially been created just for them.
L’Oreal’s brand Color & Co. lets users take an online color quiz or speak directly with a coloring consultant to choose from an infinite selection of shades. Simpler Hair Color has developed an innovative brush application that allows for multiple touch-up applications from a single tube. Color Wow has developed a powder-based root touchup product applied by brush that will last through rain and rinses until your next shampoo.
Hair to Stay
Hair care is an industry to watch because we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. Today the number of SKUs that cater to washing, conditioning, growth, styling, and scalp health is increasing every day, launching an entire generation of products to tickle a trichologist’s fancy. In overall personal care news, that’s pretty exciting.
The Skin Care Boom
It was only a few years ago that skincare overcame makeup as the beauty category to watch.
The Skin Care Boom How COVID Took a Flourishing Segment and Supercharged It
It was only a few years ago that skincare overcame makeup as the beauty category to watch. Having seen its market value increase 60% in a decade,1 skincare was experiencing a significant boom. Brands were popping up in social feeds and on Sephora shelves at a record pace and consumer engagement with brands was at an all-time high.
When the pandemic hit, the beauty and personal care industry experienced the tsunami of market effects many others felt — a lot of which we will be dealing with for a generation. Retail stores went on lockdown, workers we working from home. Date nights were a distant memory and though cosmetic and fragrance brands did suffer, skincare remained resilient.
This tenacity was in part driven by a perfect storm of events: millennials increased their purchasing power, consumers were more educated and open to new trends, and the side effects of COVID have changed our ways of life, possibly forever.
Skin Care Was Already Booming…
It’s important to realize that by the end of 2019 (before social distancing would permeate our lexicon) the skincare segment was already hitting a 5% growth year-over-year, for years. Amounting to more than $6 billion a year in growth into 2020,2 industry analysts were muddled not about whether the boom would continue, but about for how long.
These gains were in large part thanks to a new generation of skincare brands that appealed to contemporary audiences, niche segments, and a new breed of consumers. Companies were, at last, addressing the honest differences in individual skin due to ethnicity, gender, or medical conditions. The industry as a whole was beginning to redefine what the term personal care was all about.
Melanie Bender, from the skincare brand Versed, told Vogue in 2019 that skincare had a personal connection that other categories didn’t.3 “Makeup is temporary and feels like something you put on for others, skincare is an investment in yourself,” she said.
The emerging brands that came about during this period tackled today’s consumer needs, leaned heavily on natural formulations, and appealed to untapped audiences looking for daily skin regimens. They were built on operational frameworks that favored large amounts of small-volume sales. So many brands emerged in fact, that in the prestige channel, the number of brands outside of the top 20 made up the largest share of market sales for the first time in history.4
…And then COVID Hit
When the pandemic’s effect began to influence our industry, a lot of product categories had already suffered crippling setbacks. Color cosmetics were down 37% in just the first half of the year5 and the main drivers of makeup — office work and date nights — were no longer what they used to be. Despite the turbulence, COVID was inflicting upon the world, skincare was able to find a silver lining.
There were two major contributors to skincare’s COVID boost: our collective increase in hand-washing, soap and sanitizers (and the lasting effect that was having on our skin), and the overnight trend of ‘me time’ and what we could do to pamper our souls at home. Overnight antibacterial soap was as valuable as toilet paper, and masstige cleansers filled in the gaps. Skincare treatments guaranteed to ‘bring the spa to you’ were in vogue.
The result was a boon to brands that had been clamoring to get noticed, hoping to be spotted in a field of global CPGs and instantly recognizable brand identities. It heightened our awareness around what it means to take care of oneself, particularly beyond the bounds of basic hygiene and germ control.
Contract manufacturing in turn surged, with thousands of brands — even those owned by the field of large, multinational CPGs — were desperate for more production capacity and safety stock. Trend-worthy products like CBD-based lotion, tinted moisturizer, and at-home hydrating face masks were given the spotlight to shine.
Overall, the pandemic ended up breathing more life into the skincare boom.
A Generation of Connected Consumers
Brands that were growing at a faster pace than the category average — both before and after the start of the pandemic — were those that embraced digital channels for marketing and direct-to-consumer workflows. Millennials — now the United States’ largest living adult population — spend more time online (and do so with an aggregate annual income expected to surpass $4 trillion by 20306).
This results in a consumer market that is more diverse, more educated about the topic of skincare, more interested in what goes into a formulation, and more connected to influencers they trust and listen to. Today, 93% of consumers read product reviews before purchasing,7 and place a great deal of weight on virtual word-of-mouth.
Furthermore, every new brand that popped during this boom has been built digitally from the ground up. Not only do they have easy-to-use websites with integrated stores and subscription pricing, but also connect directly to their audiences through digital ads, social media, and email marketing.
Overall, these improvements to our business have contributed to a collective enhancement of the skincare industry. Our sales are more linked to user behavior, products are formulated to tackle the needs of today, and our supply chain workflows are designed for the future, not the past. We are feeding into an ethos of innovation driven by actual consumer feedback.
When the waves settle around COVID and markets fall back in line, skincare will likely be one that remains on top and continues to grow. Some of our old habits may reemerge and some safety choices will be here to stay, but it’s safe to say we’re no longer the customers we used to be.
The Shopping (Re)Volution
The beauty and personal care industry is one that thrives on the in-person shopping experience.
The Shopping (Re)Volution The discovery of new brands used to hinge on immersive, in-store experiences. In a post-COVID world, everything changes.
The beauty and personal care industry is one that thrives on the in-person shopping experience. With a full 79% of overall spending at least partially done in-store,1 we prefer to discover new brands and products through sight, touch, and smell.
We as consumers are influenced by the branding and ethos of a beauty care store like Ulta or Sephora, and malls are a place to shop for that unknown product we won’t be able to live without. Brand loyalty is still built with the help of out-of-store experiences, but in-store retail has been a crux to the industry’s $500 billion in annual revenue.
So how will an industry survive in a new world — one where our shift to online purchasing is likely to remain high even after a return to normal? One where a younger, more digitally connected consumer base makes up the majority of our economy? One where habits around makeup and skincare have been fundamentally altered by a global pandemic?
Few would be surprised to hear that 2020 saw a huge shift from in-store only purchases to those made online. What is astonishing is just how quickly and how dramatic the shift was. In the decade before the pandemic, the share of online-only purchases went from 6% to 16% — an annual growth rate of just over 15%, or about 1.2% a month.2
A global pandemic later, that rate nearly tripled — growing 44% in twelve months. The $263 billion increase in eCommerce sales from 2019 to 2020 was more than that previous 4 years’ worth of growth combined. Today, more than 21% — 1 out of 5 five purchases made — is done entirely online.2
Our industry saw many winners and losers. Skincare was up, but color cosmetics were down. Professional and salon services suffered, while do-it-at-home brands flourished. Grocery stores and big-box retailers were considered more essential than malls and boutique stores which foundered under the weight of global lockdowns. These measures remained for so long they began to change our behavior in how we buy beauty and personal care items.
Analysts predict that a return to normal will repair much of the damage the pandemic created, and they’re likely right. However, no matter what we do, we will never live in a pre-pandemic world again. Some of the shifts in our purchasing habits will stick with us even after it’s no longer a necessity — the conveniences of online shopping were simply brought to life.
L’Oreal’s Virtual Tap & Try App
Embracing Virtual Reality
When the pandemic started and lockdowns were being established, retail stores were among the most affected businesses. According to a McKinsey report, 30% were closed after the initial outbreaks1 — and with those closures went in-store testers and professional makeup consultants.
Fortunately, beauty care had already made impressive advancements in augmented reality, which helped stabilize sales numbers. AR made for a convenient ally in attracting the large swath of consumers who suddenly found themselves without their traditional sources for beauty care products. Esteé Lauder, Ulta, Sephora — even Amazon had AR tools at the ready.
Wherever they are, customers can try on hundreds of lip shades, tinted moisturizers, blushes, and more. Users can dye their hair as many times as they like without the messy cleanup. Some apps will even simulate new hairstyles and wardrobe choices for a total makeover. Intrinsicly connected to a store’s eCommerce engine, customers can easily take the next step to buy everything that completes their look.
HiMirror Smart Makeup Mirror
Furthermore, every data point is added to a stockpile of customer feedback — research that will lead to better products and new product categories. This information is also being used in the convergence of the physical and virtual worlds, as in products like HiMirror, which analyzes and tracks the effectiveness of the skincare products a person uses.
Living A Sampler Life
There’s the adage that everything old is new again, so it’s no wonder that sachet packets have become retro. What was once a mainstay marketing tactic is now an impactful way to onboard new customers.
Using trial sizes can help brands and retailers in a multitude of ways. New direct-to-consumer companies can introduce themselves without the need for commitments to full-size pricing. Established CPGs can showcase their deep bench of product offerings and how each works in harmony with the other. Retailers and subscription box services can promote an amalgamation of brands that appeal to specific audiences or personal care needs.
From L to R: Glossybox Skincare, Brickell Men’s Products, and Beautycounter
The try-it-before-you-really-buy-it approach works particularly well in the age of eCommerce because it helps to take the anxiety out of not being able to see or smell the actual product. Customers can test the waters and experiment with new brands, eventually converting into loyal customers.
And loyalty is key — since the pandemic began, analysts are finding that 36% of consumers are trying new product brands and among those consumers, 73% plan to continue incorporating new brands into their routines. A full 80% of customers who started using a new private label product during the pandemic plan to continuing doing so once it is over.4
Formulating A Loyal Base
When brands do convert new customers, many are moving to remove shopping from the shopping experience. Through subscribe-and-save options, customers can agree to have refills and replacements shipped automatically, in predetermined intervals, for a discounted rate. It’s like bulk purchases made on layaway.
Brands love it because it helps foment product demand and sales projections. Customers initially loved it because of the discounted prices, but during the pandemic, the benefits of not having to worry about stocking everyday essentials became abundantly clear.
Quip toothpaste reimagined how customers keep supplied with toothpaste, offering customers with no-hassle refill shipments.
When the pandemic forced closures of stores and upended the market, constants in product supply were no longer constant. Toilet paper was a hot commodity, malls disappeared as hubs of commerce, and it wasn’t unusual to find toothpaste short in supply at the grocery store.
Consumers can now subscribe to almost any product — shampoo, shaving cream, perfume, skin serum, even foundation or nail polish. Again, DTC brands had a leg up, already having well-oiled eCommerce apps that helped facilitate subscriptions. Having been versed in the quick processing of small orders, which helps in making these types of automated shipments financially solvent.
A Social Market
With our surge of online shopping, the influencers who champion brands and provide quality reviews found themselves in the spotlight. With stores closed, the conversation around personal and beauty care was happening online.
The largest block of spending power now belongs to millennials, who are the most connected generation we’ve ever seen. Beyond already doing a larger share of online purchases compared with other generations, some 90% of millennials — about 72 million people — are on social media. A full 32 million more millennials subscribe to social media than to cable or satellite TV.5,6
This puts these brand ambassadors into clear focus, acting as a peer-to-peer network for recommending new brands and taking the guesswork out of product exploration. Whatever your personal needs are, there’s an influencer who focuses on that type of demographic or consumer niche.
Influencers also provide a human aspect to a brand in a way that not all celebrity endorsements can. Influencers for better or worse are seen as equals to consumers (and not out-of-touch celebrities). When social issues rose to the top of people’s minds, influencers who were proficient in a cause or issue were able to talk plainly about their views and opinions (and often highlighted brands that subscribed to their ethical code).
Though we’re still searching for a lot of answers in regards to how the pandemic will affect us over the next decade, it’s clear that 2019 is ancient history. The definition we used to have for a consumer — where they shopped and how they researched new products has been changed forever.
When the effects of the pandemic settle, it’s possible we’ll see some market trends return to normal. However, it’s more likely that this revolution in retail behavior will see permanent shifts and we will look back at retail in beauty through ‘before COVID’ and ‘after COVID’ glasses.
Six Personal and Beauty Care Ingredients to Watch
Here are six ingredients that will lead the way this year in product innovation.
Six Key Ingredients to Watch this Year
In sports, form is everything. Athletes that compete in the highest echelons have the skill and the control to turn a good performance into one that transcends.
In chemistry, ingredients have that power — the power to enhance products and transform formulas into products that are remarkable in their approach towards personal care.
Formulation is more than the act of developing or mixing a product — it is the cultivation of ideas and ingredients to achieve products and efficacy so exemplary, it stands in a league of its own.
As we identify areas of focus over the next decade — restorative hair therapy, nourishing skincare routines, addressing toxic pollution in our environments — formulators can help lead a revolution with revolutionary ingredients.
Here are six that will lead the way this year:
Ginger root is a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, making it a versatile ingredient in skin and hair care formulations. It is typically sourced from warm, humid areas in Asia and Africa.
Extract from the ginger root brings anti-aging benefits, reduces redness caused by irritation, and repairs sun damage on the skin. It can protect hair follicle stem cells from harmful UVB radiation and can counterbalance the effects of pollution on the skin.
Ginger root's antioxidant and anti-irritant properties allow for an array of target problems including redness, sun damage, smog damage, and inflammation
SymVital® AR (Symrise) is a pure extract of ginger root and has been shown to even skin tone and fade dark spots. In a clinical study, the extract reduced redness after three weeks of use and smoothed wrinkle depth by 12% in six weeks in 83% of participants. SymVital was also shown to protect against environmentally-induced pigment spot darkening.1
The ginger root has been found to stimulate our natural antioxidant responses from the inside, boosting the natural capacity of the skin to repair itself. These properties help ginger root translate well to skin and hair care products, including serums, oils, and masques.
The rambutan plant — a tropical fruit plant aptly named after the Malaysian word for hair due to the seed’s shaggy exterior — is rich in antioxidants and minerals and ideal for a wide variety of hair care products. The seed of the rambutan can be extracted for use in shampoo and conditioners, providing moisturizing and repairing effects to damaged or malodorous hair follicles.
Rambutan is typically sourced from southeast Asian or South American countries like Vietnam, Thailand, or Suriname. Farmers who cultivate the rambutan plant normally only utilize the fruits, but the nutrients in the peels, leaves, and seeds can also be extracted for cosmetic products.
Rambuvital ® and Nephydrat™ (BASF) are extracts from the rambutan seed and peel, sourced through BASF’s Rambutan Program. The program is a socially-responsible endeavor to upcycle leftover materials and provide local populations with incomes, gender equity, health insurance, and safe working conditions.
Rambuvital detoxifies pollutants to protect sebum. In clinical trials, 87% of participants reported better scalp health, 64% said they experienced less splitting hairs, and 80% said their hair smelled better for longer.2 Nephydrat helps fight against the negative impacts of daily stressors on your body. It has been shown to fortify the skin’s barrier and improve hydration for more radiant skin.
All of this makes the rambutan seed an ideal extract for prestige hair care products like hair masques and serums.
Known as the rose of winter, Japanese camellia is an abundant plant with a pink or red flower and large brown seeds. It has been found to be a powerful anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it a prime ingredient for skin and hair products.
The camellia is native to China, Taiwan, and Japan, but is often cultivated around the world — it’s even the state flower of Alabama. Oil from its seeds, also called Dongbaek oil, is rich in fatty acids, providing nourishment for damaged hair. The extract from the flower and seeds help to protect the skin and hair from pollution and irritation.
K-Oleo (Clariant) is a compound of Japanese camellia oil and extract, castor seed oil, and the tea plant (camellia sinensis). In testing, researchers found smoothing of the hair cuticles and increased ability to retain moisture, particularly when tested under thermal and chemical aggressions — the kind of stuff our hair is exposed to in daily life. Results indicated a 21% increase in tensile energy and a 55% increase in hair shine.3
Due to the intense restorative properties of Japanese camellia, its practical use in shampoo, conditioner, and other hair care products are far-reaching. Look for this type of ingredient to cornerstone a prestige hair serum or treatment mask.
Round-Headed Bush Clover
Innovators are always in pursuit of counteracting the stresses we incur throughout our day. Research has shown that stress — both physical and environmental — disrupts our body’s natural circadian rhythm which has a direct impact on our overall health as well as our skin. Round-headed bush clover is an ingredient that can provide some respite.
Native to North America, bush clover is a hardy plant, tolerant to drought, and provides nitrogen fixation. It was originally discovered by Native Americans and has been used as a tea, medicine, and antidote.
Stressors — like exposure to blue light from electronic screens — causes an increase in reactive oxygen species and weakens our skin’s natural detoxification process, making our skin look tired and dull.
Clariant has a leaf and stem extract that contains key actives, like carlinoside and isoschaftoside, which help maintain and regulate our circadian rhythm, fighting against blue light damage. In a clinical study after four weeks of use, a 35% improvement in skin complexion was observed and over 75% of volunteers reported they felt their skin looked radiant.4
Unshiu is a fruit that goes by many names — unshu mikan, cold hardy mandarin, naartjie — and is rich in synephrine and hesperidin, which help to regulate eotaxin synthesis and histamine release. Citrus unshiu extract can help to combat many skin abnormalities, including atopic-prone and hypersensitive skin, often caused by pollution and allergens. It has also been shown to strengthen the skin barrier and provide hydration.
The fruit is grown over several regions, most notably in South Africa, South America, and Asian regions like South Korea’s Jeju Island.
Eosidin® (Clariant) contains citrus unshiu peel extract, which Clariant touts for its green footprint since it is extracted from the juicing process’s leftover waste. Normally discarded, the peels are upcycled and the raw materials are extracted, contributing to a more sustainable supply chain.
Unshiu’s practical applications include any kind of prestige skincare product — including serums and liquid-based masques. In a clinical study, 88% of participants observed a decrease in itchiness, and 100% experienced a decrease in dryness.5 With pollution on the rise and more skin sensitivity due to a variety of allergens, this type of skincare can make a big difference.
The oil of the baobab seed is yellowish in color, has a light nutty smell, and is easily absorbed into the skin with no oily feel.
Known as the “upside-down tree,” the baobab is a deciduous plant native to Africa and Australia and is considered the largest succulent plant in the world. An individual tree can live more than 2,000 years in dry climates, due to its ability to store up to 37,000 gallons of water. The baobab has a long history in pharmacology, having been used as a treatment for fever or as an agent in wound care therapy.
The seed pods of the baobab are extremely rich in vitamins A & E, as well as phytosterols and fatty acids, which provide a variety of benefits, such as moisturizing effect and anti-irritation. This combination of nutrients makes the baobab an attractive ingredient for hair and skin applications, like leave-in conditioners, skin rejuvenators, and masques.
Phytolea™ Baobab EC (Crodarom) is an oil extracted from baobab seeds via cold pressing. Its composition of fatty acids like oleic, linoleic, and palmitic acids, make it an ideal ingredient for beard oil or other hair treatments to improve dry, brittle, damaged hair, as well as nourish the skin underneath.6
The Influencers: The Beauty Care Industry is Thriving on a Network of Social Ambassadors
Influencers in beauty and personal care are helping to shape the conversation of beauty care online.
The Influencers The Beauty Care Industry is Thriving on a Network of Social Ambassadors
It was not long ago when brands and celebrities were the winning formula for product endorsements and primetime tv was where we found our product placements. As our digital world grew, social networking became a part of our routines. It has facilitated the rise of a new kind of celebrity: the influencer.
Influencers — social media gurus with firsthand knowledge in a particular niche — help shape the conversation of beauty care online. Posts cover hair, makeup, fashion, grooming, styling, and overall well-being. Through photos and videos uploaded across social channels, these trendsetters amass millions of followers who are very loyal and very engaged.
Influencer reach overall is so expansive, most online transactions can be traced to having had some influence from an influencer.
The job of an influencer seems simple. Snap a pic and post. In reality, though, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes in order to make all of the carefully curated posts represent the influencer’s brand and following. Professional photographers, camera crews, agents, and Photoshoppers can all be part of the entourage. Content needs to be added every day for follower counts to keep climbing.
Influencers are overwhelmingly trusted by their followers, a result of the open two-way relationship they have with their online connections. Influencers are open about their values and beliefs, appear down-to-earth, and are pretty accessible — most reply to comments or respond when direct messaged.
They also provide something many other marketing channels can’t: insight. Every tweet, post, or pic can be traced by marketers and connected by and actual social profile.
Influencers can be found across industries and consumer markets, and generally fall into one of three categories:
Most often celebrities (but oftentimes not), these influencers have followings of millions of users. Their posts command top dollar for a single post — often in excess of $1 million. Most have built a sophisticated network of production and distribution across various platforms. Many have agencies dedicated to making advertising partnerships with companies.
Consisting mostly of micro-bloggers with an angle, these influencers have 40k to 1 million users. Macro influencers tend to be more accessible, offering glimpses into their personal lives or responding to comments and messages. They are often topic gurus specializing on a specific consumer niche.
With followers under 40k, these influencers don’t have a cult-like following, but they can be more effective with brand recommendations due to their integration in the social-sphere. Micro influencers have been known to grow from relative obscurity to full-fledged A-list celebrities in a very short time period.
A 52 Billion-Dollar Industry
No longer an upstart industry, social media is so integrated into our lives that the simple act of checking one’s feed is as routine as brushing your teeth. (We might check our feed a little more often, actually.) The five of the most popular, ad-accessible social networks — Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter — account for 6.7 billion social accounts 8 accounts per person.6
Influence marketing is the future of online marketing. It works with the baby boomers for today, and the rate of adoption for social media only increases with each generation. After all, 9 out of 10 millennials are on social media.7
The numbers above show that while baby boomers and millennials are relatively comparable in terms of population size — 69 million to 72 million respectively — millennials have 65 million social media users. That’s almost twice as many users as the baby boomers have.
With marketing budgets increasing each year, brands see value in social advertising. Influencers drive a $9.7 billion-dollar industry, with a large portion of that invested in beauty and personal care brands.
Making an Influence in Beauty & Wellness
These social ambassadors have been successful in connecting with health and beauty consumers.
Tati Westbrook (@glamlifeguru)
A former makeup artist, Westbrook talks about cosmetics and fashion. She experienced some notoriety during a public feud with influencer @jamescharles.
Patrick Starrr (@patrickstarr)
Starrr stars in his own brand of beauty and fashion, collaborating with other influencers to construct a genderless approach towards makeup.
Joseph Andrews (@blumaan)
Andrews began his career on YouTube, focusing on men’s style and hair. He quickly gained a following and now has his own hair styling product line, BluMaan.
Michelle Phan (@michellephan)
Phan is a former makeup artist and owner of the best-selling brand EM Cosmetics, famous for her video on How To Get Lady Gaga’s Eyes.
Yasmin Maya (@beautyybird)
Known for her bilingual YouTube presence, Maya posts beauty content under both BeautyyBird and Spanish-language PajaritaBella.
Scott McGlynn (@scottmcglynnofficial)
McGlynn started as a fitness blogger and then branched out to an entire lifestyle brand portfolio, including his gossip podcast, The Scott McGlynn Show.
#hashtag Worthy Conversation
There are plenty of successful brand-influencer partnerships, most of which focused on the medium’s strengths: multimedia components, viral word-of-mouth, and real-life examples of the product in use. Some noteworthy pioneers:
Glossier is now a one-billion-dollar brand, with much of its success thanks to the use of micro influencers in the company’s early years. According to CEO Emily Weiss, these “regular women” helped to elevate the new brand in a saturated market. Glossier now has a sophisticated referral program offering discounted and free products to influential posters.
YouTuber Jaclyn Hill raved about Becca products so often that the cosmetics company and vlogger teamed up to create Champagne Pop, an ultra-fine highlighter. After promoting the new line to her followers, Hill helped the company set a record on Sephora’s website, selling 25,000 units in only 20 minutes.
Direct-to-consumer men’s grooming brand Hawthorne has relied on influencers to advertise to a market that is largely untapped in beauty and personal care. The company’s mission was to create a brand that addressed the lack of education and discoverability in the men’s care segment. Influencers like @captainbarto and @rudybundini were easily able to combat these barriers and increase brand awareness.
Global CPG L’Oreal has been investing heavily in digital marketing over the years. Their “Beauty Squad” campaign — which featured honest testimonials and reviews by a number of influencers — helped boost sales and gain a combined follower reach of 5.5 million users.
The Influence of Personal Care
Social media gave rise to our ability to become our own publishers, allowing us to build a narrative of our lives for everyone to see. It allowed trendsetters to capture audience attention, build a following, and provide beauty care brands a peer-to-peer pipeline of marketing.
It’s unclear how brands will ultimately use influencers in the years to come, but one thing is certain: These social reps will continue to create, inspire, innovate, and influence personal care.
Sustainability Trends to Watch for
Leaders in the beauty and personal care industry have been innovating sustainable practices for decades.
Sustainability Trends to Watch for Brands are doing More to tackle the most pressing challenges of our industry
Leaders in the beauty and personal care industry have been innovating sustainable practices for decades, constantly reinventing the products they carry and the methods used to produce them. Today, however, we are embarking on a new era of planet-friendly innovation — one that explores bolder ideas and more unconventional thinking. Companies are taking more action to reverse the damage we’ve all contributed to.
L’Oréal recently released its ‘For the Future’ sustainability plan, setting goals and expectations to combat climate change by 2030. Shortly after, Unilever released its own ‘Sustainable Living’ plan, outlining their pledge to combat environmental impact over the next two decades.
The actions being taken by brands of all sizes signal to the world that climate change is no longer a part of our mission statement, but a collective, foundational principle influencing our companies at every level. We are building an industry that celebrates the beauty as much as it does beautifying the earth.
Since the pandemic, our focus on sustainability and clean beauty has only intensified. If sustainability was a general concern before, it’s a major focus now — a part of every brand, every formula. In many respects, our blinders have been lifted to the types of packaging we use, the ingredients that are safe and natural, and how the manufacturing process affects the world we live in.
Our collective awareness has ignited a revitalized push for not only better, but more innovative approaches to addressing climate change, possibly moving us five years ahead of where we’d be without the pandemic. Shoppers are ready to take action and support brands that follow through on their promises (even if it means sacrificing cost or convenience).
The great news is that there is no shortage of new ideas hitting the market. The innovative nature we have in our industry is driving all of us forward, challenging ourselves to go further than we used to (and once we do, go beyond that). We understand the value (financially and ethically) of helping the earth and have moved past the inability to address uncomfortable taboos. We are revolutionizing our industry — from sourcing to shipping.
From left to right, top to bottom, brands focusing on sustainable beauty: rms beauty, Cocokind, Saie, Lesse, Biotherm, OGX, Yay for Earth, Nécessaire, LOLI, Ilia, Hard Working Gentlemen, Nuud, Head & Shoulders, Acure, Native, Keune, Dove, Humankind, i + m Natural Cosmetics, Helmm, Exa, Colgate, True Botanicals, Seed Phytonutrients
Becoming a Less Trash-Centric Industry
It’s no secret that the beauty care industry has been a notorious contributor to the amount of waste our society throws away. According to Zero Waste Week, the global beauty and personal care industry generated 120 billion units of packaging in 2018 — almost 329 million units per day.2
This number becomes even more concerning when you consider that most plastics can take half a millennia to decompose. That means that every single piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists, and will continue to do so for hundreds of years.3 More than 8 billion metric tons of plastic have been created so far — about the equivalent weight of 23,000 Empire State buildings.
Addressing packaging waste has been an objective for decades, but now more than ever we have the drive and the insight to make a difference.
Billions of plastic containers have been made over the years — even today 91% of it isn’t recycled4
These efforts have included the use of thinner, more lightweight containers; bio-based plastic alternatives, and reducing pollution through eco-friendly dyes. We’re seeing more modular packaging with recyclable inserts, and innovation is removing water from formulations to save on shipping impact.
Entire brands are thriving on this type of eco-approach. The oral and skincare brand Humankind, for example, mandates that all of its products reduce single-use plastic by 90% (or altogether, if possible). Procter & Gamble has allied with Greenpeace to build beach-debris-recycled bottles and educating palm oil farmers about more sustainable agriculture techniques.
Going Below Zero
One of the most pressing movements in sustainability — reducing one’s carbon footprint and achieving carbon neutrality — has advanced greatly over the years. Many personal care brands are taking corporate-level steps to reduce their carbon levels to zero net output. Some other brands though, think this isn’t a step far enough — what we need is to achieve carbon negativity.
For a brand to achieve this honorific, more than 100% of the carbon dioxide emissions created by a company need to be offset with the removal of carbon from the environment. It’s a lofty goal that requires dedication, ingenuity along every step of the supply chain, and an advanced insight into how our actions affect the environment around us.
Sugarcane requires few resources making it an ideal crop for bioplastics
For men’s grooming brand Bulldog, they took this challenge and incorporated Brazillian-grown sugarcane tubes into all of its product lines.
Using the new bio-based components results in no changes to form or functionality, but makes a huge dent in the output of carbon emissions. For every 100 tons of sugarcane plastic used in their products, Bulldog is removing 309 tons of CO2 from the environment. Due to the sugarcane plant’s absorption of carbon throughout its natural lifecycle, and the minimal rainfall needed for it to grow, it is a highly sustainable material.
There are innovations like this entering our market all the time, as companies assess their carbon footprint, identify areas they can save on, and implement simple changes to enact multilayered outcomes.
Making a Commitment to Clean
The concept of clean beauty is more than just a formulation that’s good to our skin or free from unwanted ingredients. Clean beauty has evolved over the years to define a mantra towards living a more pure, sustainable life.
Though the industry has sometimes stumbled to define what it means to be clean, we now understand it to mean beauty that’s about transparency in ingredients, sustainability in its manufacturing processes, and a formulation without useless synthetics and byproducts.
Product formulation requires the pairing of surfactants with ingredients to achieve basic product requirements — to aid in dispersing pigments in cosmetics or emulsify oil for use in skin cream. Research and development teams have found ways to reduce ingredient lists while still achieving previous benefits and claims. It’s all part of a “less is more” approach to beauty care.
One of the most beneficial outcomes of the clean beauty movement is its self-fulfilling nature. Mainstream consumers didn’t notice what products were made of, or how the ingredients were sourced until brands started promoting themselves as clean. Innovation begets more innovation, and even a seeming public relations stunt can make an impact on the environment.
The Conservation of Personal Care
Leading personal and beauty care brands into the next generation of sustainable products is no easy feat, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible. Even the definition of sustainability continues to evolve, as we come up with new ideas and angles to reduce the impact we have on our surroundings.
Finally reaching a tipping point among consumers, this movement is mainstream and will continue to flourish. Every new product launch, every new tweak to pumps or caps, every pledge of a company to do more serves to move our entire industry forward.
The New Normal of Personal Care: How the Beauty Industry Has Fundamentally Changed Us
Our behavioral shifts from COVID have affected the beauty and personal care industry in unique ways.
The New Normal
of Personal Care How the Pandemic Has Fundamentally Changed Our Approach to Beauty Care
The global pandemic is and has been a life-changing event. What first looked like a temporary circumstance, evolved into a prolonged experience, and then transformed the behaviors we have in how we work, socialize, and take care of ourselves.
No matter how long a shutdown lasts or how many rounds it takes for an effective vaccine, we’ve already moved into a new normal. The lessons we’ve learned have changed our habits and routines. These shifts are due to realities on the ground, the necessity of products, and convenience in shopping.
This behavioral shift has affected the beauty and personal care industry in unique ways. Our commerce has changed. Our priorities are different. We are seeking out new brands to address new needs. Having helped to formulate our routines over the decades, brands of all shapes and sizes are working to adapt the old way of doing things to a new world.
The most consequential effect the pandemic has had on retail’s long-term prospects has been the seismic shift from in-store purchases to online alternatives. As stay-in-place orders were enacted, our reliance on grocery stores and big-box chains were strained. The convenience of doorstep delivery became apparent to many of us.
Retailers in a position to handle a surge in online sales — Amazon, among others — have seen explosive growth. Amazon has already seen gains through the first half of the year that dwarf the sales seen throughout all of 2019.
Online sales did begin to taper off as brick-and-mortar stores reopened, but the overall level of eCommerce is higher than it used to be and will likely remain that way for some time. One of the primary reasons for this is because we’ve already transitioned ourselves into a new normal.
Online retailers offer a plethora of benefits that complement our day-to-day obligations: free delivery, bulk discounts, the convenience of stocking up on toiletries without ever leaving the couch. It’s no longer an outlier to buy shampoo online, and so the end result is for CPGs to adjust operations and shift resources accordingly. Manufacturing capacity needs to be reprioritized, packaging logistics need to focus more on direct-to-consumer shipping, and distribution channels need to be evaluated for consumer demand.
The Economics of Personal Care are Routine
In volatile economic periods, the personal care industry typically sees familiar (short-term) patterns. Consumers spend less on luxury brands. Unessential routines are shelved. Mass-market brands increase in sales, whereas small indulgences fall by the wayside.
We’ve already seen these patterns take place, but there are additional, more fundamental shifts coalescing for the long-term. These shifts are both positives and negatives for the industry. Brands will sell more online and less in stores. Some will be helped by this, and others will stumble. Category shifts — from the rising popularity of skincare to the decreased interest in makeup — will similarly result in different consequences for different brands.
Makeup brands are likely to be one of the hardest-hit segments seen during this recession
Our industry is deeply hands-on, demanding that we discover new brands and solutions through touch, smell, and sight. Incorporating this into a digital experience can be difficult, and innovative marketing ideas (like free trials) can help bridge the needs of the future with the familiarities of the past.
As we solidify what our connected world looks like virtually and in person, and understand how the expansion of work-from-home changes our households, we will continue to understand the longer-term ripples for our industry.
At-Home Indulgence is the New Day Spa
Even in traditional downturns, the salon and prestige segments are two of the hardest hit when economies tighten. The Lipstick Effect notwithstanding, makeup brands this time have suffered on a dual-level. First, cutting back on finances means cutting back on the less essential (historically prestige and makeup). Second, the tectonic shift in work-from-home has led to curtailed use and a harder economic impact.
Brands can find comfort however, in knowing that beauty care companies have already been working on some remedies. When at-home pampering surged in the zeitgeist, subscription box services were ready to share their curations for the perfect manicure, skin rejuvenation, or hair transformation. Since the model was there to use, brick-and-mortar salons could create their own at-home kits, helping to weather any losses seen in the first two quarters.
Looking further into the future, CPGs with a diverse line of SKUs will be marketing complete product lines together as one-stop bundled solutions for a variety of demographics. It will also be prudent for all brands to emphasize subscription services, direct-to-consumer retail, and other online channels into distribution. Many companies will invest in reducing operating costs for these channels and improve upon the overall shipping experience.
The more brands can identify with the digital shopping experience, the more they will be able to find continued channels of growth.
Innovating a More Sustainable Market
Despite setbacks brought on by the pandemic, it’s clear that sustainability in our industry is not going away. While it’s taken a back seat to traditional packaging or product availability, consumers generally support brands that support the earth and will continue to do so. In the short-term, however, many less ardent supporters may be more concerned with getting products at a low cost than they are buying carbon-neutral brands.
However, in the long-term, packaging design will need to balance the hygienic benefits of traditional packaging with the environmental benefits of natural ingredients and recycled components. The future of packaging design will include a reduction of waste, limiting contamination use-after-use, and expanding more sustainable shipping options.
Expect reusable and eco-friendly products like refillable packs and bamboo materials to continue their rise (it doesn’t hurt that most of the time these options are also cost-effective). Brands and product types that fit well with this mentality will see their own popularity boost in response to this trend. Look at it as swapping the disposable razors and shaving cream for a nickel-plated blade and exfoliating shave paste.
Personal care will continue its push to be a leader in sustainable packaging (as opposed to one of the biggest contributors to waste). Innovation will address both our need to sustain and the realities of our new normal.
— And Sustaining One’s Physical Health
Collectively, we are more conscious of our physical well-being than we’ve ever been before. Not only have our days been consumed with information from public health experts and medical anecdotes, but we’ve been growing in awareness of what it means to put ingredients in and on our bodies.
We are more knowledgable about how personal care can help with, and in what ways it affects our welfare. Contact begets hand sanitizer, excess use of sanitizer leads to dry skin, which demands hand lotion. Cycles like these are what’s driving some segments in our industry, but they also highlight brands and the ingredients used to treat it.
Personal care products were about sustainable health already, and the ingredients we use on our bodies are even more important in today's marketplace
Consumers want disinfectants that are effective and do not harm our immune systems. We seek out formulations that invest in natural ingredients that are responsibly sourced and sustainable. What this pandemic has done is put our awareness on overdrive, bringing every product we buy into focus.
Our industry will thrive with this mandate as we continue to bring innovation and ideas to the table. Global CPGs with internal R&D operations may have a head start on addressing these needs, but emerging brands will play a key role in the process as well. After all, it has long been our diversity in ideas and approaches that have helped drive beauty care forward.
Investing In The Future of Personal Care
Personal care has always personal, and we now can see that our personalities are all connected. Our industry may have been fundamentally changed by the pandemic, but we have the deep bench to innovate and formulate a way forward. Wherever eCommerce takes us, no matter how we modify our personal care routines, and even if we continue to set new goals for a sustainable future, we will continue to innovate the products that move us. In personal care, it’s what we’ve always done.
Innovation in Packaging Design for Personal Care
Great packaging can make or break a brand or lead, express innovation, and help build a company's value proposition.
Innovating Beauty Care Packaging Six Brands that are leading the charge in package design
Packaging may not be the superstar of the personal care world, but the value that innovative design can bring to a brand can be limitless. In an age where ‘unboxing’ videos are tops draws on Instagram and YouTube, a product’s container is no longer a component, but rather a necessary tool for a successful launch.
Great packaging can reinforce ideals, champion social causes, and define a standard for every other company to follow. Successful innovation has put brands into the Zeitgeist, and poor execution has lead to epic flops.
It is not often the first thing a customer thinks of, but package design still affects every use, every connection, and every attitude we have towards the brands that fill our shelves. Take a look at some companies that are leading the way forward in packaging design.
Photography by Helmm
Helmm lays claim to being the world’s first refillable deodorant, providing a functional applicator that reduces plastic waste by 60% per unit. Deodorants and antiperspirant packaging has long been seen as one of the industry’s biggest waste products, owing to the amount of plastic to product ratio needed for the stick to work.
Even if a product’s components are recyclable (most aren’t) there is still an excessive amount of packaging that’s left over once the stick is gone. Instead, co-founders Zach Groffsky and Taylor Lane focused on designing a well-crafted (and stunning) piece of art that just so happens to live in your medicine cabinet. The inserts themselves are recyclable, with the deodorant’s formulation made from eco-friendly and natural ingredients.
Helmm hopes to not only reinvent the product category but use its packaging to reinforce a modern aesthetic and reimagine what prestige means for today’s man in personal care.
Keeping in the spirit of reducing waste, most beauty and personal care products rely heavily on plastics, due to the material’s low cost and easily moldable format. However, all of that plastic adds up — 70% of all U.S. plastic packaging waste ends up in landfills (not to mention what percentage gets lost in the ocean).1
So Seed Phytonutrients put their team to work and created a fully-compostable post-consumer cardboard container. Mixed with chalk (a natural antimicrobial) the package is water-resistant and designed to be used in the shower.
The L’Oreal-incubated brand worked with Ecologic Brands to design the unique packaging, working off of an initial pouch-in-paper-shell concept (the bottles are fitted with recyclable plastic liners and airless pumps). The container’s two halves are then pieced together through glueless, interlocking tabs.
Water-resistance is achieved through the mixture of minerals and paper, with heat pressure binding the paper fibers together. To top it all off, a package of seeds is inserted in between the cardboard and liner, so consumers are reminded to give back to the earth once the shampoo is gone.
Photography by Seed Phytonutrients
As we’ve seen, interchangeable refill packs can help a brand’s packaging in sustainable ways, but they can also double as a sales strategy for the masses. Take, for example, fragrance warehouse Scentbird, who offers a subscription-based model for keeping a person well-stocked in cologne or perfume.
For about $15 a month, customers get an 8 mL refill shipped directly to them, and the online tools to manage scents, shipment frequency, and add on supporting beauty care products. Customers can choose from the company’s catalog of more than 500 designer names, all of which are customized to fit into their slimline atomizer.
Every aspect of the product — from purchasing to packaging is designed for an on-the-go approach, reinforcing the notion that fragrance isn’t a chore, but a self-indulgence we can have anywhere.
The universal refillable premise not only contributes to reducing waste but expands Scentbird’s consumer base, targeting those who are less committed to fragrances. With each bottle designed for only a 30-day supply, customers do not have to make long-term commitments to any particular brand or scent.
The cases — which come in colors like bronze, burgundy, and electric purple — are almost as fun as waiting for the month’s scent to arrive.
Photography by Scentbird
Packaging can usher into a new industry concept, as seen in Kao’s product launch, MyKirei. The brand was inspired by the Japanese philosophy of Kirei, which focuses on an aesthetic of beauty, cleanliness, and sustainability.
The name is not only apropos for its product line, but also the packaging it comes in — patented flexible film containers that use air pockets to shape the bottle into place and stand it upright. The bottles use 50% less plastic than comparable products and are recyclable via TerraCycle.
Photography by KAO
The flexible packaging also provides a water-tight design to prevent contamination, which incidentally leads to less product waste. The inner bag pulls itself inward as the package empties, allowing for more product to be used. (Traditional bottles can leave up to three times as much product behind.)
What’s more, the company offers the MyKirei product line in refill packs, so consumers can reuse the hard plastic pump. Kao hopes that this AFB — air in film bottle — technology can be further applied to more products in the future.
Innovative packaging can be used to address a consumer need as well, as seen in LBK Nails’ line of vegan nail polish. The unique caps contain a hinged PCTG plastic nail painted with actual LBK polish. Consumers can slide their finger under the synthetic nail to see how the color will look in real life.
What’s more, each nail is painted with the exact polish that’s in the bottle. By doing so, LBK helps to address the nuances and variations that can be seen between batches. The company’s manufacturing process is capable of painting one tip every two seconds as the bottles come down the line.
Photography by LBK Nail Lacquer
The cap also provides a sanitary benefit, as customers do not need to unscrew the cap to inspect the color inside the bottle. What’s more, the company believes it is providing retailers an extra layer of savings. Tony Kemeny Jr., founder of Kemeny Designs and LBK Nails, believes that stores lose up to 2% through maintenance costs related to customers damaging displays with polish or contamination through opening the container.
The company works with VEM Tooling for the molded caps and paints the nail tips in their Anaheim, California facility. They utilize proprietary robotic technology to create an efficient mass-produced packaging operation.
Packaging that goes beyond a functional use, and into one’s brand representation can be highly effective in driving sales. KKW Beauty found that to be true in their Body fragrance.
Kim Kardashian West — The brand’s principal and public face — chose a shapely glass bottle designed from a mold of her actual body. Leaning into her famous physique, the company designed a bottle that reminded one of ancient Greek or Roman statues.
Photography by KKW Beauty
“My home has all these sculptures in it,” West told Allure magazine in 2018.2 “We have these two big angels that are similar to the bottle as they’re just torsos with no heads.”
Although there has been a long history of perfumes in female-shaped bottles, KKW’s was a pioneer for it’s ability to so clearly blend their celebrity with seriousness in perfumery. The glass bottle includes a 100 mL satin silver XD11 pump and the outside is texture-coated to feel and look like sand.
Even the secondary packaging adds to the visual appeal. A collapsable paper box cradles the perfume and mimics a museum’s pedestal when unwrapped.
The bottle design for JPGaultier Eau de Parfum — later renamed as Classique in 1995 — one of several inspirations for Kim Kardashian West’s KKW’s body spray bottle. West cited other influences, including ancient Greek and Roman statues.
Packaging That Moves Us
Our industry will always be an execution of art and formulation, one that uses packaging to drive beauty and personal care forward. From our early industry leaders and apothecary roots, package design has always presented a unique face to our personal care routines.
Companies find value in creating something that more than just a container, but something that inspires us, reinforces a brand’s uniqueness, and allows us to consider what’s possible for future brands.
Coronavirus and the Evolution of eCommerce
The pandemic upended the retail landscape, but many brands flourished in part due to how ecommerce has evolved.
Coronavirus and the Evolution of eCommerce
While the global pandemic has affected us all in profound ways, the beauty and personal care industry has been uniquely transformed. The routines we have, the brands we’re loyal to, and the priority we assign to self-care will forever be defined in ‘before and after’ terms.
As the market continues to adjust to a new normal, brands are taking steps to assess the consumer landscape, solidify brand loyalty, and evaluate how shoppers interact with and buy their products. Even though the personal care industry has historically been resilient when it comes to recessions, this pandemic caused extreme hardships for many of us. Still, some brands were in a better position to adapt to retail changes that were on the horizon even before the virus hit.
Despite lockdowns bringing most industries to a halt, the personal care market was able to see faster rebounds. This suggests that the losses brands will experience might be short-lived. In February 2020 for example, China’s personal care market declined 80% year-over-year, but only dipped 20% year-over-year for March’s numbers.1
A lot of what factored into the success or failure of a brand depended on how it was sold, and what type of personal care product it was. Many direct-to-consumer brands were able to continue unabated, whereas products distributed through salons and barbershops were forced to find novel ways to keep customers in stock.
Emerging brands that started on the internet were able to leverage an infrastructure that was already quarantine-friendly. Many of those companies upped digital ad buys and evaluated their warehouses and shipping policies for safety or efficiency improvements. The rest of the industry tried to follow suit, with some brands doing better than others.
This in turn added jet fuel to the already expanding lead eCommerce had gained over traditional retail. Over the last decade, online purchases grew faster than their in-store counterparts by a measure of 2 to 1. For personal care specifically, in-store sales grew by 184% in ten years but paled in comparison with a 432% growth online. That growth was largely fueled by the world’s largest online drugstore — Amazon — which saw a 1,045% increase in sales over the same 10-year period.2
It’s obvious that eCommerce is in a boom, but as we dig deeper into the numbers, it’s apparent that traditional brick-and-mortar stores have a deep influence on consumers (even those who eventually purchase online).
From the Baby Boomers to Gen-Z, completely in-store purchases (shopped in-store, bought in-store) dipped by 42 points. Fully online purchases only increased 7 points. Most of the swing — a 292% increase — went towards a combination of shopping in-store and buying online (or vice versa).
The purchasing of personal care products is still deeply reliant on the physical store connection. While we’re apt to embrace digital commerce, we still crave the ability to discover beauty products by touching, feeling, and smelling. We value expertise in helping us find the right products and we are enamored by the shopping experience’s mise en scène.
The brands we have previous loyalty towards do not require the same sensory experience, and shifting a portion of those purchases online would not be as disruptive. However, for many emerging brands, a completely digital experience misses out on an important customer connection. If this shift towards online purchasing has indeed been fast-tracked by the pandemic, it will cause ripples throughout the industry.
The $64,000 question is whether or not this shift will be permanent, completely subside, or result in a mix between the two. Many consumers who have changed their behavior in how they bought personal care products will continue with their new normal. These numbers have potential, with eMarketer reporting that in a 1-month timespan during the height of the pandemic, U.S. adults who shifted their purchases from physical to online stores increased by 68%.3
Therefore, if brands want to find new audiences, they are at a minimum going to have to figure out how to bring the sensory experience to a digital world. Subscription services — which have grown in popularity by 890%4 — are tailor-made for the customer experience. Brands that have sophisticated social media and influencer followers can easily provide digital word-of-mouth.
Still, how personal care shopping might change in the short- and long-term is likely going to depend on the type of product we’re talking about. We’ll take a look at three basic categories:
Personal Care Essentials
The most reliable category of products includes everything we use in our day-to-day routines. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant — these are brands with reliable source-of-supply and have historically weathered most economic downturns. They are also products that are often purchased in grocery stores and drug stores, and not as much online. Companies have made inroads trying to change that, but have a long way to go before they catch up to other product categories.
Prestige, Luxury, and Masstige
There are a lot of products we love, but in a pinch, we can live without. In poor economic times, these more dispensable products are often swapped out for cheaper brands or forgotten altogether. (Although much has been written about the Lipstick Effect, where the little indulgences help us cope with scaling back larger stuff.) This category does enjoy a large amount of online sales, but many of them are also dependant on department stores, hair salons, nail bars, and spas.
The discovery of new products, ingredients, and innovations is one of the lifebloods of our industry. As consumers, we are always looking for new brands that meet our unique physiology or address a specific pain point. These brands often have a higher price point and most have successful online operations. However, they are also heavily dependant on the in-store experience to bring in new customers. Curated box services have proven themselves to be a good digital storefront, but the majority of consumers still want a tactile experience before they trust a brand enough to buy.
Expanding Options for Basic Necessities
Our most essential personal care products were not impacted as much by the pandemic as other product categories. While the onset saw a lot of out-of-stock signs, grocery stores and online retailers were able to resupply inventories. With some looking to stock up on staples, sales in this category actually increased.
The biggest change for this category was not if consumers purchased their product but how. Before lockdowns and stay-in-place orders, essentials were often bought at grocery stores, pharmacies, and big-box stores. Brand loyalty was extremely high, and consumers’ source-of-supply was predictable.
Having personal care necessities delivered precisely when you need them may keep consumers shopping online
The lockdowns forced the closure of many stores — and while some were allowed to remain open, consumers were not confident in the safety of in-store shopping. Consumers were forced to look elsewhere for the basics, and Amazon, online retailers, and direct-to-consumer brands filled the void.
After discovering that going online for essentials offers some convenience (price comparison, automatic refill shipping, bulk purchasing of shelf-stable products) this category may maintain more of its online gains. The Benchmarking Company released a survey that found 35% of respondents plan to continue automatic online ordering for personal care supplies.5
Out-of-the-Box Marketing for Prestige Care
For all the brands we use because they go above and beyond the basics, it’s unclear how they might survive if department stores and boutique retailers suffer in the long term. While we still seek to indulge ourselves, brands with higher price points or those that provide a supplemental benefit will likely feel the pinch the longer a recession drags on.
If professional services do not rebound quickly, salons could seek new revenue from things like at-home DIY kits
Retail stores and salons found success with out-of-the-box ideas like curbside pickup and DIY kits. These may be the key to weathering a recession or surviving a permanent shift in purchase behavior. Businesses without an online component should add one (and should regardless of pandemics) since younger generations are always more connected online.
Building a Sales Strategy for The Unknown
The most unpredictable outcomes for a rapid shift in consumer behavior will likely fall to the discovery of new brands. (This category also includes prestige beauty and basic goods we haven’t yet discovered.) If in-store foot traffic remains quiet, brands will have to shift marketing strategy or lose market share.
As we’ve mentioned before, it’s unlikely that a shopper’s desire to buy in person will disappear altogether. There is a therapeutic element to browsing the aisles, but the waters will still be shaky. Local businesses may fall to larger chains, and brands will need to increase exposure across all channels.
Influencers will likely yield more star power, serving as an important conduit between ‘the problem’ and ‘the solution.’ People find value in a store’s expert advice, and Instagrammers have large followings that can offer authentic opinions (even if they’re backed by advertising revenue).
We may see some regression in manufacturing processes that have driven our industry forward over the last few years. Products designed for small carbon footprints, for example, might be less desirable than packaging-heavy (but more sanitary) products. Brands with large portfolios of SKUs or on-demand inventories may have to consolidate product lines and manufacturing runs. Contract Manufacturers may take precedence over the installation of long-term upgrades. Consumers may even gravitate towards multi-issue products (like hand sanitizers that moisturize or sunscreen with anti-aging properties).
The most rational assumption is that no matter what, brands will need to evaluate their successes and failures and be prepared to adapt business strategy quickly if needed.
Charting a Path Forward
There is still so much we do not know about how consumers (including ourselves) will behave in a post-COVID world. During the pandemic, our digital connection with each other emerged as a savior for a lot of what we did. Work, education, socializing, and yes, shopping, took new meaning and structure online.
We may look back in a year and see that the numbers were temporary and we’ve reverted to a world that more resembles 2019. Perhaps. The truth is, no matter how long there was a shift, or how things did or didn’t change, we’re always going to be moving towards a marketplace that looks more digital and connected. Brands must strive to reinvent themselves in new ways, and the pandemic just bumped that up in priority.
The Style Of Man
Men's grooming is quickly becoming the category of focus for many personal and beauty care brands.
The Style Of Man Why Men’s Grooming is Personal Care’s Next Frontier
It comes as no surprise to say that men are not the largest demographic in personal care. Even in today’s modern era, the vast majority of TV, radio, magazine, and social media ads are geared towards women.
However, there’s a surprising reality when it comes to gender and personal care: guys are more into their appearance than we think. A 2019 MINDBODY Wellness Index Report found that 39% of men prioritized grooming and self-care — compared to 40% of women. What’s more, the Average Joe only spends $6 less a month than women do on personal care products.1
Men’s grooming is expected to grow to more than $29 billion by 2024,2 which underscores a major market opportunity for personal care companies. Recognizing this, the industry’s top brands are seriously focusing their energy on this growing demographic.
Successfully capturing market share however, involves more than just selling women’s products to men. To be truly effective, products need to address the nuances of men’s care and be formulated specifically for the Y chromosome. Men have 25% thicker skin, bigger pores, and more collagen. Testosterone affects the production of the sebaceous glands, leading to oilier skin. Their daily routines are a mix of gym sessions, business meetings, and late nights.
Plus, a guy’s priorities differ from women and their personal care products need to reflect that. The brands that appeal to men address a simplified routine, easy-to-understand ingredients, and an on-the-go attitude. Guys might be interested in hydrating their skin, but they don’t want it to be a lot of work.
To truly understand where a man’s interest is in personal care, you have to look beyond the dopp kit. A guy’s grooming habits go hand in hand with his sense of style, influenced by the experiences around him. He visits whiskey bars, gets his hair trimmed at a barbershop, and socializes over pickup basketball. All of these influences contribute to his mindset of what makes a man.
Responding to this, we’re seeing a proliferation of SKUs entering the market, each going beyond the basics of soap and shampoo. There’s a deodorant for work and another for play, pomades hydrate as much as they hold, and beard oils are formulated with enough care to make an apothecary blush.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
Even if they’re hitting the right notes, and despite a boom in the men’s care industry, the success of many brands comes with some serious hurdles. Men are creatures of habit, and introducing new ones into the mix can be a hairy situation. To succeed in the long term, a brand needs to get guys to break with their routines.
Take for example, the most universal of men’s grooming habits: shaving. Despite beards’ regained popularity, 75% of men shave every day.3 The practice is so universal, guys view it as a major milestone in their journey towards manhood. Even learning how to shave is a sacred ritual, something that is passed down from father to son like a gold pocket watch.
This highlights the need for brands to explain ‘the why’ when introducing something like a new beard care product guys didn’t know they needed.
Brands from L to R: Helmm, Layrite, Blackwood for Men, Gillette, Herbivore, Lumin, Bull Dog, Kiehl’s, Brickell
The Next Generation of Men’s Care
Historically, men’s care has been driven by the basics — shaving, body wash, deodorant, hair styling — where today’s top brands have dominated since the industry began. Recently though, emerging brands have attempted to upend the market, remodeling the old game from the ground up. Their aim is to steal market share by combating the myth that these things are just for women. Men might not be looking to get pampered, but they still want to look good.
Pioneer disruptors include companies looking to introduce old concepts to a group that has traditionally dismissed them. Moisturizing, face mask treatments, manicures and pedicures, and even makeup — these are all self-care practices that aren’t commonplace among men but have the potential to be.
Of course new products aren’t going to be effective streams of revenue if guys aren’t open to using them. This goes back to the concept of being able to overcome habitual biases and break old routines. To help achieve this, brands are shifting their marketing from the classic ‘what gets a girl’ messaging to one that showcases the benefits of good grooming, how it fits into a man’s lifestyle, how personal care is self-care, and why it needs to be a part of one’s daily routine (right there next to shaving).
Influencers are playing a big part in this coaching, particularly among the younger generations that spend hours on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Vloggers like Aaron Marino (@aaronmarino), Joseph Andrews (@blumaan), and Alex Costa (@alexcosta) cover a range of personal care topics, from product reviews to home workouts, and the best sneakers to pair with that hand-stitched Cubano shirt.
BluMaan’s YouTube channel boasts 1.6 million subscribers and offers product reviews and hairstyling tutorials
Instagrammer Alex Costa promotes the combination of fitness, style, and grooming as elements that make a man
Even though they come from a virtual connection, these referrals have the influence of a personal connection. They are extremely successful at introducing new ideas (like a weekly face mask treatment) and getting men to try products they previously overlooked. Furthermore, introducing new personal care trends over Instagram encourages consumers to share their own experience on the same platform, turning themselves into spokespeople to their own social circles.
Getting a Routine to Stick
Formulating a great product and getting men to want to use it are lofty first steps, but they won’t create a revolution on their own unless guys stick with them. Keeping up with a new routine is critical in building men’s grooming into that $26 billion dollar empire.
Subscription services tend to be something that fits well with men’s care products because they offer both the ability to discover new product types and brands, but also offer the convenience of scheduled delivery and that no-hassle approach guys love.
Even better, services like Birchbox and Bespoke Post — ones that focus on clothing and lifestyle products in addition to personal care brands — can more effectively tie in the connection between style, appearance, and social life.
Brands Making an Impression
These personal care names are blazing the path forward in men’s grooming.
Stryx has taken concealer to a totally geek level and it’s awesome. Recognizing that men too have blemishes they need to cover up (and again, a guy’s skin has unique needs) they created a concealer pen that’s almost as cool-looking as it is functional.
Their product line also includes tinted moisturizer, and both products work to hide pimples, dark circles, scars, and other skin imperfections. Everything is designed for an on-the-go lifestyle because ease-of-use is critical in a guy’s routine.
Huron is about getting serious with proper skin and hair care for every type of guy — the bartender, the barber, the mechanic, and the everyday man. Recognizing that a lot of guys don’t know what products to use and when, they built a product line designed to ‘brave the bathroom and look after yourself.’
Their brand extends beyond the products they sell, to resources on styling, how to improve your personal hygiene, and the ingredients that make up a man.
Consistently ranked as one of the best pomades on the market, Suavecito has given an old idea a modern makeover. Tapping into the barbershop culture, the company’s pomades, waxes, clays, gels, beard oils, and mustache wax are formulated to fit a guy’s lifestyle (and provide superior results with easy-to-wash-out ingredients).
Suavecito takes their branding a step further, touting initiatives like their Firme Club, which promotes the idea that fitness and great hair are a match made in heaven.
Founded as a single apothecary-style shop in Chelsea, Malin + Goetz is a skincare brand that focuses on sensitive skin backed by science and has grown into a complete line of face, body, hair, and fragrance products.
Technically formulated for all genders, the brand is on a mission to simplify skincare. Their wide range of SKUs typically consist of a two-step routine (cleanser + moisturizer) with additional products specific to one’s problem areas.
It’s clear that men’s care is on an upward trend, but there are still a lot of questions to answer before we truly get a sense of where this market will end up. As consumers and CPGs engage in conversations about personal care, as they set out to redefine masculinity, and as they introduce new (and sometimes genderless) concepts, we will gain a better understanding of the industry’s potential.
In the meantime, brands that embrace change and novel ideas will find themselves in a better position to lead men’s personal care into the next era. Guys are absolutely looking beyond the functional when it comes to their personal care products and how they integrate into their respective self-care routines. This isn’t an anomaly brands are working around — it’s a seismic shift rebranding the industry.
Personal Care’s Prime Guide to Amazon
The beauty and personal care industry is growing into Amazon's retail chain, forcing brands to adjust their retail strategy.
Personal Care’s Prime Guide to Amazon
Established Brands are Updating Their Workflow to Compete in the World’s Largest Digital Marketplace
It’s no secret that Amazon has transformed the way we shop online. The retailer has permeated into so many aspects of our lives, influencing the things we buy, from household items to electronics to groceries. According to their investor report, Amazon sold more than $285 billion in goods in 2019, which was an 18% increase over the previous year.
Amazon has forced CPGs to adapt their workflows to compete for (or preserve) market share and tamp down competition from disrupting brands. The beauty and personal care industry has been particularly affected, as the Seattle-based retail giant has given a world-wide platform to anyone who wants it.
The challenges for beauty and personal care brands to sell on Amazon can be complex. Consumer reach, inventory management, SKU proliferation, stock buyouts, third-party sellers, and packaging constraints are just a few of the difficulties CPGs need to monitor when adding Amazon to their existing retail store sales strategy.
From the consumer’s point of view, most people understand the basics of how Amazon works. Their website offers quick and easy searches for nearly any product imaginable, one-click buying, and famous 2-day delivery for Prime members. To maximize success, Amazon invests a great deal of money in its interface design, so that the user experience is as intuitive as it can be.
Amazon’s virtual shelf space and promotional placements are open to the highest bidder. Emerging brands and large CPGs have equal opportunity for top billing if they’re willing to pay.
The mechanics behind the storefront however, are a lot more complex. Amazon works much like paid advertising, with its keyword bidding, cost-per-click metrics, and paid priority placement. The more a company pays to be at the top of a product search, the better chance they have at harnessing the shopper with a half-second attention span.
The platform’s underlying search functionality operates under something known as the A9 algorithm. In a general sense, A9 is an iterative search methodology that analyzes all the data crossing through the Marketplace.
Digging deeper, A9 is a sophisticated collection of consumer behavior and seller strategy designed to offer a competitive market with cost-effective pricing and ample upsell opportunities.
What affects a brand’s ranking within A9? In short, everything. However, there are some key components that can bump a product up in the listings:
The more popular a product is, the more likely Amazon recommends it. This makes sense since the ultimate goal is to make money. Keep in mind that Amazon is also in the service business, so if they know a product is wanted, they like to make sure it’s available.
Which gets us to inventory. Amazon hates when a product is listed as out-of-stock, so keeping the supply flowing is essential to success. Multiple layers of the distribution chain complicate the process, and every brand works towards obtaining the exclusive ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ label. Being FBA means that excess inventory is stocked within Amazon fulfillment centers, allowing for a path towards high-volume sales and shipments.
Amazon’s fulfillment centers are touted for their efficiency, but are more available to brands with established sales
If a brand hasn’t established their bona fides with Amazon and is constantly playing catch-up with product supply, Amazon is going to push those companies to handle inventory themselves. They might require only the minimum amount needed at fulfillment centers to keep pace with existing sales. It can be harder then, for products to drive growth, since inventory isn’t guaranteed.
Not only does Amazon want to offer customers a good deal, but they want to make sure they’re not being undercut on external channels. If a product is offered at a lower cost outside the platform, it can prevent Amazon from displaying the all-important ‘Buy Box.’ This one-click buy now button appears for products that are priced appropriately and sold by trusted sellers.
Up to 90% of Amazon sales are a result of the Buy Box1, making it crucial to a successful Marketplace strategy
It may sound counter intuitive, but untrusted sellers end up with a link to ‘see all buying options.’ It’s a lot like being stuck at the leftovers’ table at your cousin’s wedding.
Finally, Amazon rewards those who play the game, and that means paying for all of those promotional spots mentioned before. Plan on investing in Amazon’s sales workflow.
Amazon’s Future of Packaging
Another challenge for CPGs is how to handle packaging for the products they sell through the Marketplace. It can be particularly hard for established brands that developed products with a retail strategy in mind to revamp an entire product line with separate packaging for Amazon’s customer base.
Part of the Amazon’s success is their thirst for continuous improvement along every step of the supply chain. The company strives to make good on their mission for great customer service (which they believe is just as much about things like packaging as it is for speed of delivery).
In the past five years, it is estimated that Amazon used more than 23 billion square feet of corrugated cardboard.5 If you’ve ever gotten a package within a package within a package, you know this phenomenon.
Now, Amazon has been encouraging CPGs to create ‘frustration-free packaging,’ which are made from 100% recyclable materials, easy to open, and designed to ship without secondary or tertiary packaging. The company claims this approach is now seen on 750,000 of the products they sell.
It sounds simple, but can be a tricky feat to accomplish. Brands don’t always have the luxury of separate packaging lines just for Amazon. Instead, many utilize third-party repackaging centers, which literally rip open the packaged goods, leaving all of the retail display packaging to waste. Looking forward, more and more brands are adopting packaging that can work for all retailers.
So what can a company do to ensure success within Amazon? There are several first steps brands big and small can take:
Hire a Consultant
Understand that Amazon breaks the mold of traditional retail. After all, what brick-and-mortar store changes hour by hour? Therefore, it’s best to approach Amazon with the right brain trust. An AMZ consultant can conduct organizational reviews, recommend changes in operations, and evaluate pain points before they hamper your efforts in the Marketplace.
Make sure you identify clear objectives and goals for the platform, so that you are better able to evaluate any success or missteps. If you utilize an outsourced manufacturing workflow, choose one that can recommend the right kind of packaging and production schedule to work across all channels of distribution. After you’ve got all of your ducks in a row, you’ll be more successful on your eventual product rollout.
Companies can find success with analytical tools like the RedZone Production System, which help to track operational efficiencies that can help assist an Amazon-specific strategy
Make sure your internal operations reflect your commitment to Amazon by devoting specific personnel to this channel. A successful Marketplace operation is more attainable when there is a single point person at your company funneling all of the project needs. This person will be more effective at solving unforeseen issues as they arise, than they would if this responsibility were distributed across multiple roles within the company.
Brands can have better success if they’re strategically choosing which products they sell on Amazon as compared elsewhere. If you’re just starting out, start small and concentrate on a few SKUs specific to Amazon. Measure success and use it as a case study towards other products when you decide to expand.
Invest in the User Experience
Amazon offers sellers the ability to create custom storefronts — a landing page of information and products. Just because it’s a digital store shelf, doesn’t make it less important than a physical shelf.
Prevent Brand Hijacking
One of Amazon’s underbellies includes third-party vendors who buy your product on closeouts, reselling it through the Marketplace. Legal or not, Amazon can sometimes trip over themselves policing this, leaving brands to take care of it themselves. By managing inventory off of the Marketplace, you can help eliminate the possibility of competing with other sellers selling your own product.
Subscribe & Save
If your product is something that’s a part of someone’s daily personal care routine, consider participating in their ‘Subscribe & Save’ option. This allows customers to automatically reorder product on a set schedule, leaving the worry that one will run out of toothpaste and need to make a quick run to the grocery store. Subscribe & Save also helps to build brand loyalty and increases profits over the long term.
Keep an Eye on the Competition
If you’re an established brand, make sure to watch what’s happening with disruptors and other emerging brands. If you’re an emerging brand, recognize that one day you won’t be. Part of personal care’s success on Amazon stems from the fact that anyone can reach a network of consumers without the investment of building a network of stores. That means that there will always be brands trying to build on the success of others.
Amazon has clearly positioned itself as the leader in online retail and will continue to revolutionize how we shop online (and integrate purchases into our daily lives). Pretty much every consumer brand — particularly those that came before Amazon — need to identify and address ways to evolve their own internal operations to work efficiently with online retail.
As a society, the way we make purchases online is always evolving, and it will continue to do so forever. Future innovations similar to the smartphone or Echo will continue to push commerce in a new direction and it will be the companies that resist this change who are left out in the cold.
A Refreshing Look at Personal Care
Personal care brands are reinventing our everyday essentials, moving the industry forward.
A Refreshing Look at Personal Care How some brands are taking another approach to the everyday product
Some of what we have in our bathroom cabinet has been routine for a long time. While our industry is always innovating, developing new formulas and using superior ingredients, the basic concept of what a product is, how we use it, or what type of process we use to make it largely stays the same.
That’s changing in a lot of aspects of what we do, and especially for some brands who instead of improving upon an idea, prefer to change it from the ground up.
Here we have five brands who have taken a look at common toiletries and proposed revolutionary changes.
Reformulating Our Armpits Most of us aren’t used to wiping on antiperspirant like a lotion, but Nuud is looking to change that. They set out to redefine how we keep our armpits fresh, creating an ‘anti-odorant’ that’s just as innovative for what it’s made of (100% organic) as it is the way its dispensed.
Applying just a pea-sized amount under each arm, Nuud neutralizes the bacteria that causes body odor, and can last up to a week (most body types need to apply Nuud every 3-4 days to stay fresh).
What’s more, being an active person, playing sports, or even showering has no effect on Nuud’s ability to neutralize bacteria and work in concert with our sweat glands’ natural processes.
In trying to create an armpit revolution, Nuud is puttng a spotlight on our pits and the science behind traditional antiperspirants (whose aluminum mixes with sweat, clogging pores). In fact, the product’s chemistry is unique enough that they recommend all users undergo an armpit ‘detox’ while they transition to a new way of life — fresh armpits worldwide.
Founded in 2018 by industry veterans Benjamin Bernet and Justin Guilbert, Bravo Sierra has made tenets of the armed forces tentpoles of their brand.
When the pair decided to venture out into their own (Bernet ran men’s skin care at Kiehl’s and L’Oreal, and Guilbert ran marketing operations for Garnier, and Maybelline) they looked towards the military as an ideal model of personal care.
“For military service members, male and female, they have to be at their peak mental and physical fitness. That is the definition of wellness,” Guilbert told Forbes in 2019.1
Not only did servicemen fit their outlook on personal care, but they represented a core brand personality Bravo Sierra could wrap themselves around.
“They are people who have each others’ backs, no matter where they are from.” said Guilbert. “We thought it an appealing, positive, almost progressive unifying message.”
Marketing to army vets is nothing new — companies have been doing it for decades. However, Bravo’s approach is much more than slapping a we support the troops bumper sticker on the bottle.
The products are designed for active duty — be it in Gold’s Gym or in Afghanistan — and everything is field tested through their Active Duty Field Development & Testing program.
Their chief innovation is in how they make the product. Through a network of proprietary tools and social channels, Bravo collaborates directly with consumers on product feedback and ideation. They call it social manufacturing and believe it’s the next frontier in product development.
The company was rewarded last year with $6.7 Million in venture capital funding, and keeping to their philosophy on personal care, Bravo donates 5% of its sales to Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.
A Day & Night Approach to Oral Care
Toothpaste isn’t known as being the rock star of the medicine cabinet, but it has its moments. It’s the most commonly used personal care item in the U.S. (97% of all Americans use it)2 but our routines about it are largely set in stone.
In other parts of the world, habits are different, less so, or even non-existent. That’s what motivated founding brothers Julian and Cody Levine to partner with Lenny Kravitz, and evolve brushing into a ritual, rather than a chore. In the process, they could provide access to dental care to those without it.
Twice’s mission is simple: create an experience people can look forward to, and provide them with the tools they need to commit to a healthy oral care routine. At the same time, use their partnership with world organizations to provide that experience to those who don’t have a steady regiment. The company believes that a healthy smile can be a life-changing experience.
Twice toothpaste is sold in bundles — a wintergreen and peppermint flavor to wake you in the morning, and calming vanilla and lavender for nighttime brushing. Both formulas are naturally-sourced, vegan-friendly, and free of SLS, PEGs, parabens, and gluten.
Naturally, the company gives back to the communities that inspired them. Partnering with the GLO Good Foundation, 10% of all profits are donated to provide funding for more missions around the world. As they note in their promotional materials, whoever said a smile can’t change the world, clearly wasn’t using the right toothpaste.
Laying a Foundation, 5% of the Time
Set to debut in the Summer of 2020, Procter & Gamble’s newest gadget is approaching blemishes in a whole new way. Part computer, part ink-jet printer, Opte digitally scans your skin, analyzes your complexion, and dispenses a layer of foundation specific to individual spots and blemishes.
If an area has no blemishes, Opte does nothing. If a spot has some tonal imperfections, Opte prints picolitre droplets of their proprietary Spot Optimizing Serum.
Every blemish is individually analyzed, allowing for the precise amount of serum to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your skin. The serum also works to reduce blemish visibility over time.
The device made its debut at CES 2019 and began turning heads immediately. Since then, the company has improved performance, processing images 30% faster and making it 70% less expensive.3 The internal camera captures 200 frames per second and uses an algorithm to detect imperfections even beyond what we can see with the human eye.
Face Masks for the Common Man
The personal care segment for men is one-quarter the size for women,4 and the Wolf Project trying to challenge misconceptions that face masks are strictly a women’s issue. Founder Francesco Urso was in Asia and noticed he saw far less stigma there around men and face masks. Surprised how much he enjoyed it himself, he set out to create a superior product the Average Joe would use.
Their line of charcoal face products are designed specifically for the differences in a man’s skin (including a 20% thicker layer of dermis, higher oil levels and increased pore size). They boast the same rejuvinating effect touted by the best women’s-focused brands in the industry.
Wolf is out to promotes their core philosophy: that having good skin doesn’t have to compete with a man’s priorities. After all, you can easily take thirty minutes for a fresh face before you take the Harley out for a spin.
An Innovation Reboot
Advancements in personal care go beyond new ingredients and breakthrough formulas. At times, we need to take a new approach to the everyday products that built this industry. Good brands are soliciting feedback, testing products, and coming up with novel ideas for taboo topics.
Companies will continue to grow beyond the basics and challenge what we do in personal care. Are we reinventing the wheel? In some cases, yes. In others, it’s a natural progression of an industry that’s full of ideas.
Personal Care Trends for Product Innovation
There are some of the top innovation trends to watch for in product development.
Personal Care Trends for Product Innovation
Today’s personal care industry is in the midst of a modern day renaissance. From sourcing to formulation, manufacturing to consumer use, new innovations in beauty care are hitting the market every single day.
Some of this innovation comes from societal concerns — sustainability, social welfare, resource management. Some of it comes from imagination — approaching a familiar habit with new ideas. Some of it even comes as a result of a changing regulatory environment (think CBD, baby).
Whatever the source, innovation helps drive our industry forward. There are some impressive innovation trends to watch for in 2020:
Innovating Personal Care for the Soul
We’ve moved beyond the Me Generation and into to the Generations of Me. Across all demographics, consumers are approaching personal care as more than just the habits we have and the products we use.
Personal care is becoming a holistic concept, blending together our mindfulness, what we eat, and how we conduct ourselves, with the ingredients that go into the brands we consume.
For more and more people, personal care is just as much about appearance as it is about forgiving life’s stresses and creating time for oneself
Companies that are successfully connecting with today’s customers are addressing epigenetics, sleep rhythms, and other wellness perspectives into the products they make. They are formulating a connection that compliments our genomic makeup with the goal of supporting or enhancing our bodies natural abilities to heal and repair.
Skin care can expect to see the most revolution, having been a segment of the industry that has already started moving beyond traditional glamour. Dove made a name for itself emphasizing beauty that reflects our chi and how we can start to drop external stigmas and pressure.
Beauty isn’t just in the eye of the beholder, it’s also in how we behold ourselves.
Innovating an Industry of Clean Beauty
As consumers become more woke, they are paying as much attention to the products they use as they are to the ingredients in them. This growing scrutiny has defined a clean movement and what it means to be toxic.
This trend of course has been on the rise for years, but what’s shifting today is how we define the standard. The challenge is a lack of across-the-board definitions. Up until now, brands have been creating their own to suit their needs, but we expect a shift towards the adoption of industry-wide standards.
Science is continuing to make advancements towards this cause. We will see a greater push for natural and environmentally-friendly extraction processes like Sederma’s use of super critical CO2 (versus traditional harsh solvents) to obtain apium graveolens for their Apiscalp ingredient (designed to provide scalp comforting benefits).
Brands focused on green principles will expand their influence on the industry — and in the next decade — bring a standard of green that operates on all levels.
Innovating Nutraceuticals into Our Topicals
Formulations that meet these eco objectives have the added benefit of providing a connection between the health and wellness outside and inside our bodies.
The use of nutraceuticals and superfoods in personal care and beauty products will continue to grow, mimicking the rise we’ve seen in the food industry. This year will bring ingredients like seaweed, kelp, jackfruit, and vegetable waters to the forefront of product formulation.
Innovating our Connection with Microbiomes
As we continue to learn about the strong correlation between our skin bacteria and our overall topical health, personal care products that promote a balanced microbiome will be on the uptrend. Scientists have been studying this field for decades, but we are only beginning to understand the diversity of our microbiota, and how it affects our overall wellness.
Brands are recognizing that our skin has a deep connection to the wellness inside our bodies
Innovating a New Regulatory Affair
In the beauty space, brands are used to competing against a landscape of disruptors, and we often find ourselves with ingredients that disrupt as well. Formulators in every segment of personal care have been working to understand and capitalize on the benefits of a specific extract, cannabidiol.
CBD, hemp, and other cannabis related ingredients have experienced exponential growth just over the past few years. Federal laws have been changed to allow for non-psychoactive components to be used in research and product development, adding to a whole new segment in health and wellness.
What we have still, are regulatory challenges and a lack of published data on the science behind the topical benefits of CBD. We have some understanding of the benefits, but still have much more work to do in the next decade on understanding the full impact of these new ingredients. Expect CBD to be a topic of conversation at every formulation seminar this year.
Cannuka’s product line touts the calming benefits of CBD with the humectant properties of manuka honey
Innovating Personalization with Technology
Since today’s consumers are entrenched in their personal genomics, companies have a great interest in showing products that are individually tailored. Customers can now pick and choose solutions-based kits or receive formulations tailored from data-based platforms. We can even chose our packaging or have products branded with customized labels.
This tailorization not only matches customers with more appropriate products, but builds brand loyalty, increases customer satisfaction, and enables a powerful data collection apparatus.
Atolla is an MIT-born machine-learning algorithm that translates data into customized skin care. Starting with an analysis kit, serums are developed based on a person’s unique oil, pH, and moisture levels.
The subscription-based segment has been particularly quick to adapt to this mindset, offering kits for a completely unique personal care routine. Some brands have begun to offer customers the ability to purchase added ampoules with tailored additives for extra efficacy.
Advanced technology has brought the science lab to our bathrooms, allowing for scans of a person’s face to determine moisture levels or DNA characteristics. L’Oréal has developed Perso, a three-in-one device that uses a camera, breezometer, and personal preferences to formulate a one-of-a-kind, single-dose application right in front of you.
This trend will continue to expand as companies that are matching technology with formulation tend to outperform those that have not yet adapted.
Perso, by L’Oréal
Innovating in the Age of Conscious Beauty
About more than just the environment, our collective shift towards a more sustainable future has influenced every part of how we act as consumers.
We are more passionate about our footprint and are concerned with how today’s actions can affect the ecology, social welfare, and economics across the globe. This passion has led to a worldwide Conscious Beauty movement.
Formulating and manufacturing from a sustainability perspective is not new, but is growing at the fastest rate we’ve ever seen. Companies have made big commitments to reducing their footprint and contributing to the greater good.
Seed Phytonutrients offer the first-ever shower-friendly paper bottle, made out of 100% post-consumer materials
We will see innovations that continue this movement — waterless products, upcycled packaging, energy-efficient manufacturing, and waste reduction programs. Clariant, a Swiss-based chemical company is touting the upcycling of a citrus extract from unripe green citrus unshiu. Normally harvested only to boost tree growth, this fruit is instead collected and processed into an extract rich in synephrine and hesperidin.1
Brands are also finding value in the marketing and notoriety of these programs, and are establishing foundations to further their cause. Sustainability is no longer an afterthought, it’s a priority.
It’s easy to highlight the amazing innovations expected this year, but harder to predict their exact impact on our industry. Yes, sustainable manufacturing is expected to grow, but it’s impossible to see exactly how that will affect corollary practices ten, twenty, or even fifty years from now.
With more being given back to the communities in which a product is sourced, advancements in chemical manufacturing focusing more on natural than synthetic, and imagining the impossible in what we can do in the digital age, we can certainly say personal care is moving in an upward direction.
We are embarking on an exciting new era of discovery, and one that will forever change the way we see ourselves, access the beauty within us, and cement our contribution in a world more connected than ever.
How Today’s Audiences are Defining Personal Care
Audiences are defining and redefining what the Personal Care means to them.
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.
How Subscription Services are Changing the Personal Care Game
Subscription-based retail is quickly becoming a boom for the industry.
How Subscription Services are Changing the Personal Care Game
Subscription boxes are redefining the way we approach our self care routines. Across every subset of the beauty and personal care market, companies are using subscription-based distribution to cultivate new audiences, reinforce branding, and increase customer loyalty.
To consumers, these corrugated containers represent the convergence of style, technology, and convenience. Posting a value of nearly $2.6 billion dollars and encompassing more than half of all online shoppers, it also represents the future of e-commerce.
That’s only the start of the appeal. Each box offers marketing potential, product launch opportunities, and a pipeline to some of the most niche, hard-to-reach audiences.
Digital Microtargeting in a Tangible Way
Since we are now able to market with pinpoint accuracy, and manufacturing workflows are becoming more streamlined, servicing a highly targeted niche audience is no longer an impossibility.
Box services for male audiences? Check. Female? Check. Oily skin? No problem. Dry skin? That too. A gluten-free young professional who runs 4-5 days a week? There’s a box service for them.
What’s more — the data cultivated from Facebook, Google, or abandoned shopping carts help define the markets for future subscription services.
Subscription services are targeting underutilized demographics, like men’s care (which now accounts for 18% of subscribers in the personal care segment)
This data can also help companies increase profits through up charges and add-ons. Most services are in touch with their customers — through Instagram or email — with a sophisticated workflow of pre-shipment reminders, additional sales opportunities, and increased exposure to new brands.
The Psychology of Subscription Services
For these recurring services, there are two main models in the personal care segment. Curated & Customized services ship you a monthly box of products tailored to match your skin type, fashion sense, or lifestyle.
Replenishment services automatically ship refills on a predetermined schedule or when a smart device is notified or alerts you when you’re running low. Both models offer psychological rewards, either in the form of convenience, or a rise in the level of neurons in the pleasure centers of our brain.
In a 2006 study, ‘Pure Novelty Spurs the Brain,’4 researchers Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel found that the ‘novelty center’ of our brain — the SN/VTA — can be activated by the unexpected. They discovered neurons that were more stimulated when a subject was shown a series of repeated images, but were also shown new images on occasion.
This might help explain the success brands have been having on getting subscribers to join. We are hard-wired to find value in getting a gift, even if it’s a gift we pay for ourselves.
So who’s winning? Several companies have proven to be key players in this segment of mail order commerce.
Harry’s | Dollar Shave Club may have been the company that put one buck razors in the zeitgeist, but Harry’s has built upon that model with a brand of sophisticated masculinity. They believe that self care is more than just a close shave and some tonic. Its about a full line of skin creams, body wash, and styling products that round out a man’s grooming habits.
Harry’s has expanded its product line to more than a dozen products including face cream, body lotion, and hair putty
Birchbox | The leading company in blending fashion and personal care, Birchbox makes the connection between one’s skin cleanser and their clean pair of open-toed shoes. They are selling a personality, and connecting brands with audiences that match them in a meaningful way.
Quip | Quip started with a toothbrush (a sophisticated one) and built their subscription model on keeping customers stocked with toothpaste and replacement heads. They offer the convenience of not needing to think about such a prosaic purchase, and are making tooth brushing more exciting.
Quip onboards customers with their innovative toothbrush, but retains profits through monthly refills
Stitch Fix | With a focus on fashion, Stitch Fix offers boxes catered to women, men, and kids. Their profile assessment tools go beyond the fit to ask how much you might be interested in spending on clothes, or how bold you want your selection to be (“bring it on — I’m into trying new brands”). Stylists are assigned to each customer, providing a touch of personal service.
IPSY | As the largest cosmetic subscription service, IPSY seeks to ‘inspire individuals around the world to express their unique beauty.’ Their product offerings run the gamut of skin cleansers to skin creams; concealers to compacts, and is constantly introducing new up and coming indies.
Stitch Fix assigns each customer a personal stylist who helps navigate their unique fashion sense
When brands align themselves to a platform that matches their own culture and personality, sales can be impacted in an enormous way. Subscription boxes have experienced more than 890% growth in the last five years,5 a boom in profits is allowing companies to continue improving their user experience, sales touchpoints, and marketing reach.
All of this leads back to the fact that subscription boxes are one of the most effective ways to distribute something that is hot in demand (or would like to be). Predicting product supply and the logistics of distribution become much easier to manage. So much in fact, that some brands are pushing subscription plans over on-demand purchasing.
In the brick-and-mortar retail world, there’s an old theory that when a person tries something on, they’ve often already made the decision to buy it. Another theory states that on-the-fence customers are more likely to buy if they can try it out, and yet another one speculates that new brands are discovered through personal recommendations.
Subscription box services acts on all of these, and includes a truckload of other commercial advantages. Expect these services to continue influencing personal care for the foreseeable future.
Personal Care Trends CPGs are Watching
These are the trends companies are watching in personal and beauty care.
Personal Care Trends CPGs are Watching
The personal care industry has been affected by modern consumerism like almost no other industry out there. Online retail, social media, and a new generation of customers have so fundamentally reformed the way we connect with brands that many companies have stumbled trying to adapt.
Of course, any brand can experience difficulty navigating new markets, and we often see big names struggling to sync their old workflows to the new. Those who appreciate these dynamics and welcome out-of-the-box thinking are often the ones setting the ground rules moving forward.
Here are some things major brands are watching out for right now in personal care.
The Beauty Care Landscape is Shifting
Established consumer goods companies might have the advantage in infrastructure, but emerging brands are gaining ground in innovation, new ingredients, and the ability to appeal to new audiences. They are proving themselves to be significant disruptors to the status quo by offering new approaches to old ideas.
The overall market is experiencing fluidity, as smaller brands are gobbled up by larger, well-known names. These companies can offer the innovativeness of a start-up with an enterprise workflow. At the same time, cash-flush organizations are investing heavily in their own internal R&D, hoping to incubate the next great start-up.
Consumer Spending is Cultivating Prestige
Luxury beauty products have seen some of the most impressive increases in market share since the economic recovery. U.S. sales in prestige personal care is expected to come close to $4.5 billion in 2019 and with a CAGR of 4.1%, this number will only increase. Skin care alone has posted a strong 6% increase according to beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group.1
Major CPGs are putting an emphasis on prestige largely due to its high profit margin, and the fact that consumers are more likely to remain loyal to their beauty care regiments when higher-end products are involved. These companies also have a huge advantage in the R&D infrastructure they already have in place.
Custom Tailored Product Offerings…
As AI integrates itself into everything we do, consumers are expecting personalized experiences on all levels. This includes the product itself, the marketing used to sell it, and the ordering process required to buy it.
Companies like Proven — a company born out of the Skin Genome Project — offers an algorithmic approach, recommending products based on an in-depth questionnaire. After answering some basic details, Proven pairs a cleanser, SPF moisturizer, and night cream for a quick, out-of-the-box skin care regiment.
Proven Skin Care uses algorithms to match an array of products to a customer’s specific needs
…Sent Automatically Every Month
Once a purchase is made, shoppers are offered the convenience of automatic order placements every month. This worry-free approach practically ensures brand loyalty and offers some stability in product supply while offering additional upsells through à la carte add-ons prior to shipping.
The Internet’s most popular toothbrush company, Quip, makes sure that a 90-day supply of toothpaste arrives on your doorstep exactly when you need it. Amazon pushes customers towards renewal purchasing by offering discounts for products designated with ‘Subscribe and Save’ pricing.
These services have the potential to expand audience reach in compelling ways. According to Forbes, 15% of online shoppers have signed up for these types of automated services.2
Lumin Skin Co. focuses on custom product groupings geared towards male consumers
…In Custom Branded Packaging
To round out these personalized experiences, brands are able to more cost-effectively brand the presentation of their goods when it’s shipped. Printing on demand allows brands to reinforce messaging on and inside the box. In the end, the entire experience of receiving a product in the mail is a case study in brand loyalty and messaging.
These custom designed, custom-tailored packages extend the brand recognition and consistently reinforce why the user purchased the brand in the first place. Stylish graphic design, high-quality construction, and a user-centric approach add a layer of distinction to a product’s reputation.
Embracing the Digital Shelf Space
It’s hard to meet someone who hasn’t integrated Prime’s 2-day shipping into their day-to-day life. With only a few simple taps, that refill bottle of sulfate-free, ultra-moisturizing shampoo is on its way. Amazon is an incredible pipeline to consumers, but companies have to play by their rules.
In trying to balance appropriate inventory, a lot of onus is placed on companies to figure out how they can leverage their in-house packaging operations to fulfill on-demand orders. Walmart, Target, and other big-name retailers are making plays to compete with Amazon, so this will only continue to grow.
Keeping a Product Supply Regiment on Track
Personal Care will of course continue to adapt, then evolve, and adapt some more. As our marketplace becomes more global, more digital, we will see outside forces continuing to shake up the landscape. Brands will continue to jockey for market share and test experimental, new ways to solve yesterday’s problems.
Companies that exceed in reading the tea leaves of personal care understand that in order to execute on strategy, they need a product supply that can adapt to today’s economy.
Keeping Product Supply Consistent with Consumer Demand
Brands need to keep nimble in their source of supply since beauty and personal care can be cyclical.
Keeping Product Supply Consistent with Consumer Demand
A CCM Benchmark study found that 9 out of every 10 conversations about beauty products happen online.1 In fact, more than a third of customers learn about new brands on places like Twitter and Instagram. It’s a notable reference point for an industry that used to rely on a “look, feel, smell” approach.
It also speaks to how much disrupting forces have changed the way the beauty industry operates. Today’s customers are more empowered than they’ve ever been. We are aware of the ingredients we put into our bodies. We are able to trace our ancestry with mail-in kits. We are able to connect with the brands directly and follow their every move.
These agents of change can represent new market opportunities, but present challenges for keeping product supply in check. Consumer goods companies have recognized the need to adjust manufacturing operations to compete in a new world.
For CPGs to maintain existing brands, integrate additional SKUs, and expand market opportunity, they must enforce agility into their operations. Big companies are no longer relying only on internal 24/7 manufacturing workflows. Instead, they are integrating outsourcing models that can adapt and scale as the market dictates.
The Economics of Personal Care
In the 1990’s — when fanny packs were in vogue and the radio was still the podcast of choice, most big-branded personal care lines were manufactured in-house. Each CPG had a network of factories capable of handling mass production of well-known products. Confidence in outsourced manufacturing was positive, but generally used for temporary demand surge or as a way to handle more mature, declining product lines.
During this period and into the next decade, the industry saw a wealth of mergers and acquisitions. Loyalty towards brand name products was high. Then, during the global economic downturn of 2008, things changed.
Higher priced brands plummeted. Consumers switched to private label equivalents. CPGs began consolidating plants to cut costs, accelerating the pace of production through contract manufacturers. Then, as the economy recovered and online retailers surged, contract manufacturers grew again by accommodating large CPGs and the upstarts they acquired.
The Outsourcing Model
One of the most critical needs of any product manufacturer is capacity. The entire slate of capabilities of a plant — manufacturing, filling, packaging, quality assurance — needs to be available when product is in demand. At the same time, it’s costly to keep operations ‘on retainer’ while waiting for the market to fluctuate.
Contract manufacturers are able to provide capacity to CPGs whenever it is needed. They have similar factory setups as their customers and have integrated an array of best practices seen by the world’s biggest brands. They can offer solutions to challenges both large and small.
Through this ability to produce and scale, contract manufacturers like Accupac can help companies stay nimble and respond more quickly to new ideas and formulations.
Contract manufacturers make about 1 out of every 7 personal care and cosmetic products worldwide.2 In 2018 it was a $17.1 billion industry. CMs are poised to help the industry adapt to change, and provide opportunities for new companies to break through.
Here are challenges an outsourced workflow can help with:
Before Y2K, the world’s biggest brands were aligned with Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell. Today, skin care is sold through likes, follows, trendability, and online stars like @jamescharles and @Zoella. These social players dominate the conversation around what products to use. Their millions of followers account for a collective audience that is deeply loyal to their opinions.
These customers — millennials among the lion’s share of them — are feeling more connected to the brands they trust. Hashtags have the power to bring change to outdated ingredients, and customer service is as easy as a DM.
CPGs are in turn seeking brands that speak to customers in a more personal way: products that are trendworthy, represent a new generation, and are socially responsible. They need to be able to add SKUs to their product lines without disrupting the existing operations of their other brands.
The Me Generation
We are more in tune with our physiology today than any other point in history. We know more about our heritage, our demographics, and our well being. We can send out for DNA results in a week and research chemical compounds on our phones. So we seek out products that conform to our ethnic, dietary, or social specifications.
These opinions that we form are far reaching. Our connection with social networks makes it easy to voice our opinions, unite behind a cause, and influence the corporate values of the brands we trust.
This often leads to reformulations of existing products. One only has to look back to the removal of parabens, or the boycott on palm oil as examples of how self conscious consumers have affected change. With the scalable workforce CMs have in place, companies are better prepared to test, verify, and deploy updated lines in order to compete for consumer mood.
An Expanding Worldwide Market
Our global economic footprint is changing every day. International brands are breaking through new markets and expanding product supply with regional varieties. The result of all of this is a global personal care product market estimated to be valued at $716.6 billion by 2025.4
Companies know that their products are finding success in new markets and are opening up new channels of distribution. This means more demand for product, but also demand for operations that can handle multinational validation requirements.
Contract manufacturers who have success in helping CPGs adapt to a global distribution model will place emphasis on proper quality control units and chemists who understand governmental regulations around the world. They also employ customer service teams who are adept at spearheading production through the hurdles needed to meet deliverables. They can often reduce headaches down the road by providing solutions to challenges before they affect operations. They can also cut start up costs for establishing product supply in new countries.
The point to all of this outlook is to reinforce the idea that in order to remain relevant, CPGs need a source supply that’s ready to support business change. In-house operations can be slow to adapt, but contract manufacturers have the capacity and knowledge to combat supply chain disruptions.
We might not know what the personal care landscape will look like in five years, and that’s exciting. We do know that the value of personal care will continue to grow and facilitate change from all angles. That’s why brands who integrate hybrid manufacturing workflows today are already preparing for what’s to come tomorrow.