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Personal Care Insights

Personal Care Insights

Insight | Responsibility

“Woke” category advances diversity, and sustainability

I’m struck by how “woke” the personal care and beauty sector has become, to its credit. We’re seeing a meaningful focus on sustainability, ranging from packaging innovations such as Head and Shoulder’s bottle made out of recycled beach plastic to product development like L’Oréal’s efforts to create a low water usage shampoo. The beauty industry also continues in its efforts to be more inclusive in its marketing – Fenty has become a lighthouse for the category and Milk is celebrated as much as for its products as for its ethos of diversity, inclusivity, and freedom. Being responsible and representative is no longer a nice to have – the public demands it and the personal care category has responded – delivering proof, not just promises.

Avra Lorrimer

Managing Director

Hill+Knowlton Strategies


Insight | Trends

Sustainability and organic trends overlap

There is a difference between people looking to buy natural and organic products and those interested in sustainable products, although there is an overlap. If you’re a new mom, you’re looking to get products for your baby that are free of pesticides and harmful chemicals. You may or may not be concerned about whether the product is recyclable. In either case—natural and organic products or sustainable products—interested consumers are willing to pay a premium.

Bill Bayer

Managing Director, Team Unilever



Insight | Purpose

Purpose becomes embedded across the brand business

Sustainability is absolutely on the roadmap for our clients. They know there’s an audience that will expect to see those products on the shelf. And they know that as a category leader they need to have these products. But they’re not going to talk much about sustainability. Instead, they’re giving priority to other trends around personalization and purpose. More brands are identifying what the brands stands for. Sometimes purpose closely relates to their products. Other times purpose is about how they want consumers to think about the brand, to create stronger memory structures and be the brand of choice. These are multi-year communication strategies that touch all aspects of the business, from marketing and advertising, to product development, supply chain management, to relationships with government and other influencers.

Charles Singer

Managing Partner



Insight | Purpose

Sustainability, a global trend, varies by region

There is a shift from mission to purpose. It’s more about the people, product, and the planet. Brands are asking, what is the purpose of the brand, beyond just the commercial purpose, to drive emotional connection and brand preference? Consumers expect more from brands now than just the products they are delivering. In a related trend, naturals are on the rise. It’s about concern with ingredients, both what’s in a product and what’s not in a product. Sourcing has also become much more of a concern. These are global trends, although there is less concern about sustainability in Latin America, probably because of economic pressures. In other words, it’s great to care about the earth when you’re not worrying if you’ll have enough money to make it through the week.

Ellen Pace

Global Managing Director, Professional, R&D

Red Fuse


Insight | Ingredients

Consumers drive the conversation about ingredients

The concern with organics and natural ingredients is more about the impact on me than the impact on the planet. People are less trusting about ingredients for several reasons. In some instances, the safety of ingredients in major brands has been called into question. Also, there’s more noise. Smaller brands are coming in saying we’re free from all this stuff, which makes consumers wonder about what’s been in the products they’ve been using. In the past, manufacturers were telling consumers what to use. Now, consumers are telling manufacturers what they want. Brands are designing themselves around this input.

Erica Williams

Director, Consumer Insight, Worldpanel Division



Insight | Trends

Pricing moves to both ends of the market

There’s a bifurcation happening in personal care, just as in other CPG categories. At the upper end a big shift we’ve seen is toward sustainability and purpose, with the introduction of products in premium-feeling reusable containers. It remains to be seen whether consumers are willing to take the extra step and return the product, but the reduction in packaging and transportation impact on the environment is promising. Younger consumers in particular are gravitating toward purpose-led shopping, choosing premium products which reflect their values. Simultaneously, we also see more consumers shopping in value channels and browsing online to get the best price. While disposable income is a factor, even consumers with more resources navigate freely from one end of the price spectrum to another. Brand managers need to take a hard look at their portfolio to determine which brands, lines and packs belong at which end of the market.  

Jennifer Bender

Vice President, Futures Practice

Kantar, Consulting Division


Insight |Packaging

Reduced packaging complicates brand communications

As the move toward sustainability reduces packaging, brands may have to strip back on the canvas used to promote and educate at the point of sale. How will brands effectively communicate and stand out from the competition when the canvas is radically different, if not non-existent? As people shop in a physical store, and increasingly narrow their search to Amazon’s Top 10 results, the way the packaging is modified to stand out in those environments will be important.

Liam Gibbs

Business Director



Insight | Retail

Physical stores deepen experience with beauty brands

In this digital world, the role of a physical store has shifted to become a hub for exploration and experience. For beauty, this is exciting territory. Stores are turning into playgrounds for entertainment, stages for industry launches and speakers, and labs to experiment in. Personalized experiences, customized services, and digital features extend in to store, furthering the community connection that already thrives on social media. Disruptor brands like Glossier use stores to unite their tribes. It’s where fans gather, ideas are shared, and social currency is generated through selfie moments.

Michelle Smith

Business Director