Marketing Matters: Are You a Trend Watcher?

Back to the February 2007 Issue

When I was in elementary school one of my friends wanted to be a fortune teller—but often it’s me who feels like one since I am constantly on the lookout for what might be happening next in the personal care industry.

Can you spot a trend? You’d better hope so. Trends are an important part of the overall consumer sales picture for a marketer. The ability to spot or anticipate a trend can spell the difference between great success and abject failure. This is particularly true in the personal care industry, which frequently is driven by the latest or hottest trend. Of course, to anticipate or spot a trend, you have to know where to look—and that’s not as easy as it sounds. This isn’t called the Information Age for nothing. You’re awash in data that comes to you nonstop from a bewildering number of sources: newspapers, magazines, television, radio, the Internet, annual reports, research papers … all these and more can carry information about trends.

The challenge is to be able to analyze this information effectively and efficiently, and then make the right moves. Some companies can sift through this informational sandstorm and find the important nuggets swirling within the data. Others get buried by the sheer volume of material that needs to be analyzed and acted upon in a timely manner. They usually hire outside firms to do their trend-digging and analysis for them.

So what are some anticipated trends for the personal care industry in 2007?

The first has to do with men. All indications are that males are spending more and more time and money on personal grooming. Sales of men’s prestige skin care products for the first six months of this year totaled $32 million. This was a 3% increase over the same time period in 2005, and reflects a growing trend. (There’s that word again.)

In addition, the driving force behind the male grooming market increase is not who you think—a mid-20s urban hipster—but senior men. Research indicates that it is senior guys who are responsible for the fastest-spending growth in both American and European markets—a rate of 3.9%.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is the much ballyhooed metrosexual trend. Frankly, metrosexuals are so yesterday that they’re practically prehistoric. Not only was the metrosexual image too feminine for most men, but actual metrosexuals constitute only about one-fifth of all guys. And the metrosexual’s evil twin brother—the retrosexual—is not the target male. The man who the personal care industry needs to reach is the one who falls right between those two.

Another trend that has been coming on like gangbusters and will continue building strength in 2007 is the organic/“green” trend. The advance signs for this trend were everywhere, from the price of gasoline kick-starting the hybrid craze to Wal-Mart announcing that it was going to carry more “green” clothes to the rise in the amount of organic foods carried in supermarkets.

Sometimes a trend can be ascertained by studying foreign markets, and this is certainly the case here. Research indicates that the European market for natural and organic cosmetics is growing at 20% annually.

That brings us to another trend for 2007, and that’s the continuing rise of mineral makeup. Women are increasingly buying makeup based on ingredients. The category is poised for enormous growth, and companies with a mineral-based cosmetics line, such as Jane Cosmetics, are ready to jump into the mix. Even nonpersonal care companies, such as organic chain Whole Foods Market, are getting into the act.

What does this mean for you? Plenty. First of all, organic and natural brands will be entering traditional cosmetic channels. This means that more and more traditional cosmetic retailers will be stocking these items, thus making competition for shelf space more challenging. Natural ingredients will become much more prominent in personal care products. Finally, as more major personal care companies move into the natural/ organics market, the competition and pricing pressures will become enormous.

If you don’t think this is going to happen, think again. Why do you think L’Oréal bought the Body Shop and Sanoflore earlier this year? Why did Regis Corporation recently form a new limited liability company with Intelligent Nutrients, Inc., a natural care products company owned by organics guru Horst Rechelbacher? Why are companies such as Aveeno releasing products prominently featuring natural ingredients like shiitake mushrooms?

It’s called a trend. You can either recognize it and deal with it, or get run over by it. In 2007, the broad trends in the men’s market as well as in the natural/organics market are going to run full-speed through the personal care industry. Are you ready?

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