Consumer Industry Spotlight: Household & Personal Care

    The past few months have unquestionably brought major changes to the way consumers think about personal care and household care. Evidence that consumers have simultaneously relaxed their personal grooming routines and heightened their focus on household hygiene is everywhere – from the trending hashtag #quarantinebeard to widespread shortages of disinfectant cleaners.

    Changes in consumer behavior have deeply affected the personal care and household care industries in just a few months. Demand for household cleaners and personal hygiene products have surged, generating triple-digit increases in sales of products such as hand sanitizer, while the virus has exacerbated the already-ongoing decline in sales of discretionary personal care items and cosmetics. Prestige cosmetics brands and fragrances have been particularly hard hit, seeing significant sales declines driven by social distancing, working from home, and mask wearing. 

    While a portion of this effect is driven by temporary measures – for example, somebody working from home has 11 fewer personal care occasions weekly than somebody who works away from the home1 – COVID-19 has prompted several changes that mirror longer-term trends in consumer preferences and will likely persist, at some level, post-pandemic. Purchases and usage of color cosmetics have been steadily declining for some time as women gravitate towards a more natural look. Months of social distancing, allowing consumers to spend significantly less time primping, are likely to accelerate the long-term trend of pared-back grooming routines and slow the recovery for certain categories of personal care products.

    Meanwhile, the share of consumer products that is purchased online continues to rise, accelerating the pre-pandemic trend towards the increasing importance of e-commerce. Online sales were over 30% higher for the week of May 26 – June 1 vs. February pre-pandemic numbers2, an increase much greater than the 15% year-over-year increase in e-commerce sales during 20193. The past few weeks have seen e-commerce sales begin to level off, but given the historical stickiness of e-commerce habits, it is reasonable to expect that the recent boost in online sales will endure post-pandemic.

    Change brings opportunity, and the current situation presents an occasion for companies to align themselves with evolving consumer preferences, to connect with consumers, and to build loyalty. In this update, we’ll discuss how purchasing patterns have changed – both in terms of what consumers are purchasing and how they’re purchasing it – and examine how today’s landscape could shape the future of household and personal care products.