Personal Care

More Choice in a Crowded Category Meets Needs and Adds Excitement

Shelves fill with men’s grooming products

The personal care category improved 12 percent in brand value on the strength of product innovation, brand marketing, particularly in social media, and continued activity in fast growing markets.

Brands added more SKUs (stock keeping units) and mass retailers increased the space devoted to personal care. Changes in attitudes about masculinity drove men’s care, one of the fastest growing segments of the personal care category.

The category benefited from the popularity of products that combine the properties of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to improve personal appearance without resorting to Botox or surgery.

Millennials influenced the category as well with a willingness to experiment that made products, such as hair removers, more available and acceptable. In addition, Millennials tend to use personal care products at a younger age.

Responding to consumer interest in personalization, brands segmented skin and hair products for particular demographic profiles and ages. Globally, brands created products to match cultural sensibilities.

With so much choice, developed market consumers were more promiscuous about brands, while consumers in fast growing markets relied on brands to signal product safety and efficacy. These other trends continued:

  • Diversity
    The celebration of individual differences in body size, skin color and hair texture continued to inform the category and ideas about beauty.
  • Asian influence
    Brands expanded their product range to serve Asian needs in Western markets and because the Asian preferences drive broader trends that cut across demographic groups.
  • Travel
    One of the fastest growing markets, what L'Oréal has called “a sixth continent,” is travel retail at airports and other transportation hubs. L'Oréal recently established its Group Travel Retail Division.

Growth of men’s grooming

The additional shelf space devoted to men, filled with products distinctively packaged in black or another shade considered masculine, indicates how interest in male grooming has gone from metrosexual to mainstream.

The range reflects a change in attitudes about masculinity and the influence of Eastern cultures. In South Korea, for example, men’s grooming can include applying makeup.

Neutrogena and Nivea were among the many brands successfully offering products for men. Sometimes products developed for men, in shaving, for example, migrated to nearby shelves with products shaped and packaged to appeal to women.

Men’s interest in personal grooming included an inclination to grow facial hair. The fashion, a reaction in part to the price of replenishing razor blades for shaving, impacted category leader Gillette, which responded to the increase in beards and mustaches with a range of trimmers.

Innovation and multiple benefits

A lot of innovation focused on hybrid products with multiple benefits and time saving advantages. Examples include Nivea’s in-shower moisturizer, which combined product efficacy with convenience.

Devices and products to remove facial and body hair added excitement to the personal care category. Olay introduced a line that didn’t rely on waxes and other usual solutions.

Other product innovations included small hand-held appliances for cleansing, a sub-category L'Oréal terms instrumental cosmetics. The brand marketed a device called Clarisonic. Olay and Neutrogena and other brands have their versions. The devices, available more at luxury than mass, are priced from $150 to around $400.

The popularity of the cleansing devices reflects two other trends: the interest in anti-aging products and in money-saving, at-home solutions for treatments normally available at salons or spas.

Events and brand building

In a fragmented media landscape, brands like Cover Girl, Garnier and Gillette reached audiences using traditional media selectively, at the Grammys or the Oscars, events about fashion and beauty, when people were paying attention and possibly using a second screen to text and tweet.

In Seoul, South Korea, Clinique opened the Clinique Chubby Lounge, an interactive pop-up shop, with an appearance by well-known Korean actress Park Bo Young drawing attention for the brand’s Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm.

Dove worked to make a product ingredient the brand message. It promoted Nutrium Moisture, a key ingredient of its moisturizer, and expanded the ingredient to its deodorant products. By focusing on one patented ingredient the brand simplified its claims across much of its range.

Social responsibility remained important. Gillette sponsored Movember, an event that takes place during November when men refrain from shaving during the entire month to call attention to a fund raising effort supporting men’s health. L'Oréal gained attention for its efforts to reduce packaging waste.

Fast growing markets

The West continued to be influenced by the importance of beauty and personal care in Asian markets, such as South Korea and China, where natural ingredients are important and an alphabet soup of skin care products covers most needs.

Estée Lauder expanded its skin care business in China as a prestige brand, entering lower tier cities and driving ecommerce and mobile activities. Estée Lauder launched Osiao, a skincare formulation designed for Asian customers.

L'Oréal withdrew its Garnier brand from China, probably because of pressure on profits as improved local brands offered products at lower prices. The move enables L'Oréal to focus investment on the L'Oréal brand itself and other brands it markets in China, such as Lancôme. Lancôme reinforces its presence in China with innovative digital marketing that includes a website, social networks and a makeup blog.

The economic slowdown in Brazil affected the brand value of Natura, a Brazilian brand leader in natural care products. Natura remains the only brand in the BrandZ™ personal care ranking based outside of Europe or North America.

Action Points

Know the brand.

Understand what the brand stands for. Express that meaning in everything from products on the shelf, to in-store shopper marketing, social media and advertising.


Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It’s a temptation some personal care brands can’t seem to resist, but it dilutes brand clarity.


Harness technology to improve product efficacy and serve evolving consumer needs and visions of beauty.


Social media is a good place to cultivate and sustain consumer trust, to educate and have a conversation about products and ingredients.

Personal Care Up 12%

The personal care category includes brands in health and wellness, beauty, and facial, skin, hair and oral care.

BrandZ Top 100 2014

BrandZ Global 2014 Report Top 100 Report

Top 100 Chart

Top 100 Infographic

Methodology and valuation by Kantar Millward Brown

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