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Marketing Matters: Shift Toward Simplicity Impacts Skin Care

By: Liz Grubow and Valerie Jacobs
Posted: April 7, 2009

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Will consumers buy more multi-use products because they are starting to question if they really need all of those products in their bathroom? Lush’s Seanik Solid Shampoo is one multitasker that can be used for hair and body, Revolution Organics’ All-Over Body Balm touts more than 20 uses, and Philosophy offers a high-foaming shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath in one SKU.

Multitasking products deliver on many manifestations of value: saving money, time and/or space (in bathroom/shower) and reducing environmental footprints. Consumers are exhibiting more support for the environment, a positive side effect during this recessionary time, than during any other time in history. Consumers are proud to proclaim, “I’m saving money and being greener.” Skin care manufacturers that downsize packaging and pass the cost savings on to the consumer or increase the use of biodegradable/recyclable packaging could attract elusive buyers.

What will manufacturers learn during this recession? Will manufacturers with a narrow portfolio of products outpace market averages because they are easier to sustain than a larger portfolio of products? The strategy seems to be working for Beiersdorf AG. A recent news release indicated that its three major brands—Nivea, Eucerin and La Prairie—had achieved double-digit growth on a worldwide basis. Will we see a resurgence of dormant brands or products that don’t advertise often and/or don’t get frequent media attention? One product that has made its way back into the headlines is Unilever’s Vaseline brand. A recent Superdrug poll conducted with 2,000 British women, published in the Telegraph, named Vaseline Petroleum Jelly the number one beauty product women cannot live without. The study surmises that the reason this simple petroleum-based moisturizer is tops is because it is a familiar, trusted, reliable brand with an inexpensive price tag. Another notion to consider during this downturn is whether to focus more on offerings and engaging the customer in grocery stores or online stores such as Amazon.com and Drugstore.com, which have been reporting solid revenue growth of late.

A Matter of Self-reliance

According to IRI, many U.S. shoppers are settling into self-reliance strategies to save money—45% of shoppers earning $35,000–54,000 annually agree with the statement, “I go to hair salons or spas less often.” Those in higher income brackets are also spending differently than before. According to a recent Forbes article, “How The Luxury Consumer Will Spend in 2009,” these consumers will seek concentrated, high-potency and increased-efficacy products that may also have a social or ecological benefit.

P&G’s Olay is one brand with a strategy to lure luxury brand shoppers with its new Olay Professional Pro-X line—squarely positioned as a professional skin care line for the mass market. Starting at $42, it has been called “a savvy buy in a down economy” by beauty care analysts due, in part, to its trusted brand name among consumers. The Pro-X line is the brand’s most potent formula, utilizing a proprietary peptide ingredient for increased hydration and to help build collagen and elastin. Olay is betting on the credibility of its authority and the three years of development, which included a panel of beauty experts and skin care professionals in dermatologic practice, for success with the Pro-X line.

A Global Issue