Beauty products see recovery

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, beauty and personal care was growing more than twice as fast as total FMCG. As a result, some of the biggest global manufacturers were shifting their commercial strategies to focus more on the sector.

But, says Kantar, as lockdowns and social distancing became a new part of our lives, beauty and personal care usage fell. The sector was dealt a heavy blow. And yet, some categories are already showing the green shoots of a recovery.

Before the pandemic struck, beauty and personal care was growing at 6.8% – more than twice the growth of total FMCG (2.9%). Skin moisturisers (10.7% growth) and hair care (8.5%) were the main drivers. These categories had a combined 39% of sector spend and were responsible for over 50% of total growth.

There’s no escaping the damage the pandemic dealt to the growth of the beauty and personal care sector. By the end of September, the value growth of the sector had slowed to 1.1%.

While this might not seem a significant fall, this is against the backdrop of being the most dynamic FMCG sector in 2019. This figure is also artificially inflated by sales of hand and body wash in 2020. Consumer demand for anti-bacterial hand gel rocketed as knowledge of the virus spread. Removing sales in this category reveals a starker picture: a drop in value growth of 0.4%.

At the same time, total FMCG has been booming. By the end of Q3, total FMCG overall sales were five times faster than the beauty and personal care sector, at 5.5%. Kantar forecast annual FMCG sales to have grown between 7% and 8% by the end of 2020.

The category hit hardest by COVID-19 has undoubtedly been cosmetics. As restaurants, bars and nightclubs around the world closed, category usage reduced dramatically. By September, make-up sales had fallen by 14.2%.

Deodorants is another category moving in the wrong direction. While remaining in growth, the category saw this slow over the year.

Skin moisturising was initially hit hard by the pandemic while growth in hair care and oral care also slowed down. Yet they both managed to remain in growth and have both seen an improvement in performance towards the end of 2020.

The success category throughout the COVID-19 pandemic was hand and body wash. The refocus on hygiene, with the use of anti-bacterial gel encouraged by many governments, has been incredibly beneficial to the category. Overall, by the end of Q3, it had grown by 12.6% – with full year category sales for 2020 likely to be over 15%.

Before COVID-19, the share of sales for ecommerce in beauty and personal care was more than double that of total FMCG. And this importance was growing, having increased its share by 3.7% by the end of 2019. The channel accounted for 19% of sector spend and contributed 74% of growth.

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