Skincare is taking its lead from plastic surgery, with clinical-looking packaging and claims. And that’s giving sales a facelift 

Appearance is everything in the age of the selfie. Well, almost: 83% of Brits say their appearance is ‘very important’ to them [Streetbees]. Unsurprisingly, that number is highest among 18 to 25-year-olds, at 87%. But what will really raise eyebrows is the steps many will take to ‘improve’ their looks.

At least for those who can still move their eyebrows. Botox is booming, expected to reach a whopping 1.5 million Brits next year. The treatment is so mainstream that Superdrug now offers jabs for as little as £99. It’s not just minor ‘tweakments’, either. The number of facelifts carried out in 2018 was up 9% [BAAPS]. Half of women under 34 are interested in cosmetic surgery [Mintel].

Given the sheer appetite for looking good, the numbers for personal care may appear puzzling. Value sales of skincare, oralcare, shower products and other toiletries are up just 0.6% [Kantar 52 w/e 16 June 2019]. And 1% fewer packs went through the tills. “Growth is driven by rising prices and is negated by shoppers buying less often and picking up smaller baskets,” says Kantar analyst Emma Chambers. “Overall, there’s been a loss of more than 68 million usage occasions in the past five years.”

There is logic behind these seemingly contradictory figures. Yes, it may mean 68 million fewer shaves, hair washes, teeth cleans and so on. But it doesn’t mean we’re letting ourselves go. Instead, we’re paring back some everyday routines and splurging on more heavy-duty treatments.

“A mix of fashion and societal change has seen the loss of 68 million usage occasions”

A mix of fashion and societal changes are dictating the routines in decline. For example, one million fewer packs of razors were sold as men embrace the facial hair trend (though a 2018 Men’s Health survey found that 46% now remove hair from their bodies).

Meanwhile, nearly seven million fewer bottles of shampoo and conditioner have made it off the shelves. That’s down to women opting for longer hairstyles, which can easily be tied back when not at their freshest.

“The trend towards longer hair means people require fewer hair washes,” says Procter & Gamble sales director Ian Morley. “The rise in working from home has added to this because you’re less likely to wash your hair if you’re not going to the office.” When Brits do venture out of the home, though, it’s a very different story. In public, the pressure to look your best has never been greater. Fifty-two per cent of consumers told us they used photo editing apps and filters before posting images of themselves on social media in our Streetbees poll. Meanwhile, 92% said they felt under too much pressure to stay looking youthful.

Enter products that promise a heavy-duty solution without going under the knife. A wave of new premium face creams and serums are employing similar language to that used by plastic surgeons and Botox clinics. See L’Oréal’s Revitalift Filler Renew Eye Cream and Renew Anti Ageing Day Cream, which contain the hyaluronic acid used in filler injections. Then there’s Boots’ No 7 Laboratories Firming Booster Series, including a line-correcting serum with a syringe-like design. Or the even more overt Nip + Fab No Needle Fix eye cream.

Such products carry a hefty premium. The No 7 serum sells for £38 for 30ml, L’Oréal’s eye cream fetches £20 for just 15ml, and the Nip + Fab eye cream is near £15 for 15ml. It’s a price consumers are willing to pay. No7 Laboratories Line Correcting Booster Serum was one of the best-performing new products of 2018, says Kantar. And Nip + Fab is the fastest-growing brand of the top 10, up £2.4m [Nielsen 52 w/e 7 September 2019].


Kantar: top eight sectors in personal care by value

Top eight sectors in toiletries and personal care by value   
  Value (£m) % growth Market share
Skincare   1323.3 0.7 20.9
Deodorants   537.6 3.6 8.5
Bath+Shower Products   518.1 2.2 8.2
Shampoo   455.2 0.9 7.2
ToothPastes   422.6 2.0 6.7
Hair Conditioners   307.6 3.1 4.9
Total Toothbrushes   304.7 -7.2 4.8
Razor Blades   293.4 -0.2 4.6
Brands vs Own Label   
  Value (£m) % growth  
Brands 5350.0 0.7  
Own Label 992.3 0  
  Category value share % growth  
Boots   23 0.4  
Tesco   20.7 0  
Sainsbury’s   9.4 -3.1  
Asda   8.7 -2.2  
Superdrug   6.6 0  
Morrisons   5 -3.8  
Waitrose   2.2 0  
  • What a pong! Brits have used personal care products on 68 million fewer occasions than in 2015 [Kantar usage care panel 52 w/e 31 March 2019]. Analyst Emma Chambers points to deodorant as one example.
  • “Consumers are using deodorant less often,” she says. “There have been 9.6 million fewer usage occasions among women alone since 2015.”
  • However, deodorant value sales have still climbed 3.6%, thanks to a 3.1% rise in average price.
  • Such a performance in the face of falling usage should be applauded. L’Oréal Men Expert deodorant has been a star performer, says Chambers.
  • In skincare, own-label lines are driving most of the growth. “Skincare is one factor behind the 1.4% rise in average prices for own label,” says Chambers. “This is driven by the increasingly premium and trend-driven offerings.”
  • Key examples include Aldi’s Lacura range, which just last month was bolstered with the launch of Revitalising Facial Toner, and Boots No 7 Laboratories, whose Line Correcting Booster Serum was among the best-performing NPD of the year.

Source: Kantar 52 w/e 16 June 2019


Beauty bloggers

This appetite is being fuelled by high-profile beauty bloggers such as Nadine Baggott, who are pushing products with increasingly scientific credentials. Among Baggott’s recommendations are clinical-sounding, high-end brands such as Paula’s Choice, which comes at over £50 for its Clinical 1% Retinol treatment. But the effect is also filtering down to more affordable, high street brands – Olay’s Pro Retinol eye cream also earned a glowing recommendation from the blogger.

Olay brand owner P&G is aware skincare brands need to keep up with an increasingly demanding shopper. “People are looking for increased performance from facial moisturisers,” says Morley. “There is premiumisation taking place and we’re seeing a decline in cosmetics and increased demand for more hydrated skin.”

Insights agency JWT Intelligence has also witnessed skincare take on a higher importance. “Skincare is evolving into a health offering and expanding beyond beauty,” say Emily Safian-Demers, trends analyst at JWT. “Consumers are looking for bespoke solutions. In 2018, the global skincare category was worth $134.6bn, with new products coming to market constantly.”

Hollywood smiles

Wrinkle-free skin with a healthy glow isn’t the only thing on the wishlist of aspiring Instagrammers. Gleaming Hollywood smiles are also the height of desirability (the Hollywood trend also extends beneath the waistline).

“From a manufacturing perspective, we’ve seen a sharp incline in the oral care category,” says Roger Harrison, MD of health & beauty product manufacturer and sales & marketing agency Dendron. “Fifty-two per cent of people aged 16 to 34 believe white teeth to be healthier [Mintel].”

That is leading to some heavy-duty, high-priced whitening products. The Colgate Optic White Professional Whitening Take Home Kit, containing four pre-filled hydrogen peroxide syringes, sells for £59.99. Prices for Philips Zoom home whitening kits range start at £24.99 online. The whitening trend is even inspiring toothbrush ranges – the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush carries an rsp of £299.

“To tap into the ‘tweakment’ trend the sonic toothbrush comes with Optimal White brush heads to help users achieve whiter teeth in just one week, versus a manual toothbrush,” says Philips professional relations manager Jenny Payne. “Sixty-five per cent of consumers are interested in tooth whitening and 46% have used an over-the-counter whitening solution.” So mainstream is the whitening trend that Boots has developed a comprehensive own-label offering. Its whitening kit with blue light promises to make teeth ‘10 shades lighter in one week’ and retails at £30.

A new area of opportunity opening up in this lucrative market lies in a more natural whitening solution. “We are looking at new and innovative active and natural ingredients that appeal to the younger consumer,” says Harrison. It could pay off. Data from P&G shows that 40% of consumers are looking for natural credentials in oralcare. Cue the recent launch of charcoal and coconut oil products under the Oral B 3D Whitening Therapy brand.

Others are going down the same route. “An example of a quick at-home ‘tweakment’ that has really taken off is charcoal-based toothpaste,” says Unilever VP for beauty & personal care Chris Barron, pointing to the launch of Schmidt’s Tooth & Mouth Paste with Activated Charcoal earlier this year. “With celebrities and influencers sharing their pearly white smiles as a result of brushing with charcoal, we tapped into this trend with this launch.”

The development of such products is one of the best examples of premiumisation in personal care. Standard toothpastes start at around 80p per 75ml tube in the supers; Colgate Natural Extracts Charcoal Plus White comes at an rsp of £5/75ml.

There’s no shortage of similar examples. Take deodorants, for example. Soft & Gentle has just launched a line that contains organic jojoba and coconut oils. At £2.49 per 150ml, it’s pricier than your standard fare (a 150ml can of a standard Sure deodorant can cost as little as £1). “Consumers are willing to pay more for products they know are made with natural ingredients as they become more self-conscious of their health and wellbeing,” says Morgane Salin, head of body care at Karium, owner of the Soft & Gentle personal care brand.

“This trend is reflected in the 0% aluminium deodorant segment in particular, as the market continues to be in strong growth, up 19.2% in spend and up 6.3% in the number of buyers,” says Salin, quoting Kantar numbers for the year to 14 July. “New shoppers entering the market are looking for more choice, in addition to an increased frequency of purchasing. In response to the performance of this sector, Soft & Gentle has reformulated its 0% aluminium offering.”


Nielsen: top 10 female face care brands

Top ten female face care brands  
  Value (£m) % growth
Simple 76.5 -0.4%
L’Oreal 69.6 -2.1%
Olay 61.0 -6.9%
Nivea 50.3 -2.1%
Garnier 47.1 9.8%
Johnsons 9.6 0.8%
Nip + Fab 7.8 44.4%
Neutrogena 4.1 15.7%
Super Facialist 3.1 17.0%
St Ives 2.4 -8.3%
Source: Nielsen 52 w/e 7 September 2019    
  • Things move quickly in skincare. And brands sometimes struggle to keep up. That the top four female skincare brands are in decline is evidence. Together, they shed a sizeable £7.5m.
  • For the most part, their numbers are being dragged down by declining sales of their core products, while the launch of pricier and/or specialist products is helping to buoy value performance. L’Oréal, Olay and Nivea have all seen volumes fall at a faster rate than value.
  • Market leader Simple bucks this trend, having shifted an extra 195,000 units despite a £300k dip in value. Chris Barron, VP for beauty & personal care at brand owner Unilever, partly attributes this volume growth to the popularity of Simple’s sheet masks. “The Korean beauty trend is continuing to infiltrate and influence the UK market and the sheet mask phenomenon is a prime example of this,” he says.
  • “The format has become incredibly popular thanks to influencers and the sharing of images on social,” Barron adds. “Loved by Generation Z and millennials, sheet masks offer at home ‘tweakments’ such as tighter, smoother and brighter skin, results previously only achievable by a trip to the salon.”
  • This ‘tweakment’ concept also boosted Nip + Fab’s range of surgical-sounding products. It is the fastest-growing skincare brand in the top 10, with a whopping £2.4m gain.

One size doesn’t fit all

The point about more choice is particularly pertinent. Because whether it’s skincare or toothpaste, shampoo or deodorant, the development of specialist products aimed at specific needs is a defining trend of this sector. One size no longer fits all in personal care.

See the 2018 launch of Pantene Gold, designed specifically for people with afro hairstyles, or this year’s Power of Grey campaign for Pantene’s Grey & Glowing shampoo and conditioner for proof of how brands are looking to target specific groups (and how fashions are changing). Pantene’s Pro-V Hair Biology range, which claims to offer ‘a tailored blend of nutrients for your hair’s biology needs at every age’, also demonstrates the brand’s commitment to meeting specific shopper needs.

As the market battles a decline in usage occasions, could it be about time that personal care got truly personal?


Innovations in personal care 2019