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Roshida Khanom is an Associate Director for Mintel Beauty & Personal Care, analysing beauty products from across the globe and writing key reports in her sector.

As the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak impacts consumer behaviours across many sectors, beauty companies are already highlighting the impact on their businesses. 

At the start of the outbreak we saw consumers taking a protect and prevent approach in the personal care sector, increasing on behaviours they would do during normal cold/flu season. Here, we explore how the outbreak is transforming and how businesses in the beauty and personal care sector are operating.

The immediate impact of COVID-19 on beauty and personal care

Hand sanitisers and pain relief products are selling out, and consumers are likely seeking out immune boosting vitamins and supplements. Preventative categories such as soap and hand sanitiser are benefitting from NHS hand washing guidelines, which is driving focus on hygiene and cleanliness. As a knock-on effect, hand cream will also be affected with frequent hand washing seeing a greater demand for hand care products.

New Product Development in hand gel will step up

The hand sanitiser segment has long been one that is associated with being drying on skin, however high usage of the format will now drive demand for products with a better sensorial profile. In the US, Touchland, a direct to consumer hand sanitiser company which has products that claim to ‘make your skin happy’, reported sales increase since the outbreak of COVID-19.

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The segment could also see premiumisation; as consumers increase usage of the format, there will be a demand for products that offer benefits beyond sanitisation, such as moisturising and fragrance.

Hydrating hand sanitizer mist (Watermelon scent) from Touchland (US) 


Consumers will seek beauty from home

With the Government’s advice asking shops selling non-essential items to close, brands could use this opportunity to revitalise their online offerings. Online consultation services, chatbots and augmented/virtual reality technology could see a drive in usage as more consumers seek beauty advice from the comfort of their home.

Beauty treatments that can be done at home will also see a boost. Use of intense conditioning treatments, face masks and products that boost emotional wellbeing could see a rise as consumers look to home treatments for a pick-me-up

Beauty and personal companies can work for the greater good

In times of emergency, beauty brands seen to be contributing to the greater good will earn trust with consumers. In China, Shiseido has donated 10 million Chinese yuan to the Shanghai Charity Foundation, while Shanghai-based skincare company Forest Cabin has seen sales soar after its founder vowed to make donations of products to the nurses working on the frontline. Meanwhile in the UK, at the initial outbreak Lush allowed people to walk in and wash their hands for free and since shutting its doors for business some stores are now giving away stock to the NHS, schools and charities.

“Come in and wash your hands for free” – Front of a Lush store

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What’s next?

The end of the beard trend? ; the London Ambulance Service considered banning beards due to their ‘adversely affecting’ crews ability to wear respirators properly. As face masks become more common, this could point to the end of the beard trend.

Eye makeup could also see a boost in sales, as a number of eye makeup tutorials are cropping up for those who want to continue looking glamorous whilst wearing a face mask, and still having virtual meetings with colleagues.

Mintel is currently running research into how consumers are reacting to the crisis, and whilst early indications show that there are widespread concerns, most of the changes in behaviour are linked to maintaining good hygiene. The Government’s revised guidance on a complete national lockdown, issued on 23th March, means that major lifestyle changes are inevitable, but the beauty and personal care sector is perhaps better-placed than most to weather the storm. The sector is one where people have traditionally turned to in times of economic hardship for a pick-me-up, which is a behaviour that is likely to repeat when life goes back to normal.

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