Despite dire warnings of a slowing economy and the inevitable drop in consumer spending across the board in the personal care industry, the antiperspirant/deodorant market held its own at a .4% rise in sales for the year ended Dec. 31, 2000, according to Information Resour-ces, Inc. (IRI), Chicago.
The increase is somewhat less substantial than in previous years, but there may be a simpler explanation than the dwindling economy, according to industry experts. Larger-size containers and the use of deodorants as part of a pre-packaged line, for instance, may have had as much of an influence on the numbers for the year 2000 as the fear of downsizing and a persistent national concern with saving versus our past obsession with spending.
Industry experts agreed that the antiperspirant/deodorant market will hold steady at modest but measurable annual sales increases. As a staple product rather than a discretionary one, the category is well entrenched in the consumer’s mind—and medicine cabinet.
According to Laurel Dobalo, vice president, marketing, Carter-Wal-lace Inc., there is less cause for concern than the numbers might suggest. “The category grew in dollar sales in the year 2000, according to A.C. Nielsen data,” Ms. Dobalo insisted, “although the category ex-perienced a slowdown toward the end of the year.”
Ms. Dobalo explained that last year’s sales numbers are not dire, but instead indicate a trend toward larger-sized containers.
“The slowdown in the market was a slight correction due to the switch that many retailers have made to large sizes. The category will resume moderate growth in 2001,” she said. The company maintained a spot in the Top 10 for the year ended Dec. 31, according to IRI. According to Ms. Dobalo, Carter-Wallace’s Arrid is expected to remain a strong player of its own accord. “The deodorant category will also grow due to new product introductions, particularly in the area of ‘skin friendly’ and ‘na-ture’-type products,” she predicted.
Indeed, though the category as a whole increased only .4%, a few brands experienced respectable increases last year. P&G’s Old Spice increased 3% in dollar sales, while Secret’s newer launch, Secret Platinum, surged an im-pressive 42%, according to IRI data.
Top brands were longtime industry favorites Right Guard, at $139 million in sales; Degree, at $137 million; Menen with $122 million and Sec-ret, the top selling women’s brand, with $98 million. Dove and Suave also made strides with $75 million and $64 million, respectively.
All Things Being Equal
How, then, to keep on top of the game as an anti-perspirant or deo-dorant manufacturer? Consumers are demanding more of their deo-dorants than in the past in the way of cosmetic benefits, such as softening properties, newer fragrances and re-sidue-free product application.
The antiperspirant market is one of the few personal care categories that seems to be split evenly between men and women. “The industry has been moving toward more gender-segmented entries,” noted Jim Dan-iels, director of marketing, Arm & Ham-mer personal care, “and unlike some other personal care segments, with antiperspirants, men purchase over 70% of the product on their own.” In the category’s top brands, Right Guard, Mennen Speed Stick and Old Spice were the best-sellers for the male consumer segment, while Secret, Dove and Suave led in the women’s sector. The two other top brands—Degree and Ban —are considered unisex, according to industry experts.
New fragrances and additional benefits—most notably, natural choices and gentler formulas—are becoming available for men and women alike. Uni-lever’s launch of Dove initially gave longtime leaders Right Guard and Se-cret a wake-up call. The competition was part of Chattem, Inc.’s decision to sell the Ban brand to the Andrew Jer-gens Company last fall: the company listed among its reasons that it had experienced strong competition from rival brand Dove.
The Dove line of antiperspirant roll-ons and solids is successful due to its focus on combining newer benefits with efficacy, such as imparting moisturizer and caring for a woman’s delicate skin while maintaining superior protection against wetness and odor, according to manufacturer Unilever.
Although women’s promotions have highlighted unique or newer benefits, the men’s category has maintained its success by sticking to the basics and focusing on its solid male image. Right Guard launched Xtreme Sport (RGX) last year, a product geared toward 13- to 25-year-old males and said to protect the more active, sport oriented individual. The product is available in Fresh Blast and Cool Peak fragrances, names which evoke a definite sports-oriented attitude. Clear Stick Active is also slanted toward the no-nonsense, on-the-go image that continues to be successful for industry giant Gillette.
For men who want a little luxury in addition to protection, Azzaro, Eli-zabeth Taylor (Passion), Yves Saint Laurent, and Ralph Lauren (Polo)—among others—all include antiperspirant products in their gift set and personal care lines. Calvin Klein offers an Escape-fragranced product and recently added All Day deodorant and Active antiperspirant variations to its Nautica line. The deodorant is alcohol-free and formulated with echinacea, reputed to be an anti-bacterial extract. Each retails for $8.
Secret of Success
Secret, still the female antiperspirant category leader with $98 million in sales last year, enjoyed yet another successful launch with Secret Platinum. The product was rolled out in spring of 1999 and its sales surged 42% for the year ended Dec. 31, 2000, according to IRI. The product is available in 1.6-oz regular, powder fresh and spring breeze scents and 2.6 oz. regular, unscented, powder fresh, spring breeze and shower fresh fragrances.
Procter & Gamble is trying its luck again with Secret Gentle Care. “We understand women are unique, so we teamed up with scientists to develop an antiperspirant and deodorant for the woman with sensitive skin,” said a company spokesperson. The product boasts reduced scent levels to help minimize irritation and contains moisturizers to soothe and absorb like a lotion, according to company executives.
Newer fragrances may be the next generation in a market that al-ready has odor and wetness control, in-visibility after ap-plication and non-irritating formulations down to a science. “The antiperspirant category can be considered both personal care and cosmetic due to the fragrance factor,” pointed out Mr. Daniels of Arm & Hammer. The company’s product, which contains ba-king soda, is available in a variety of fragrances to ap-peal to the user’s individuality, according to the company.
Another leader in the female category, Lady Speed Stick, has expanded with three new additions to the Invi-sible Dry collection: Orchard Blossom, Wild Freesia and Caribbean Cool. Original Lady Speed Stick is available in Scented, Powder Fresh and Light Musk, while the gel is offered in Shower Fresh, Powder Fresh and Spring Fresh. The product glides on cleanly with no white residue, the company said.
The Natural Approach
Botanicals are popular in hair and skin care products, and in recent years these ingredients have made their way into the antiperspirant sector as well. However, there are only a handful of deodorants which can claim themselves as completely natural, according to executives at Andrew Jergens Com-pany, Cincinnati, OH, makers of Kiss My Face, the natural cosmetics company that introduced an antiperspirant product in 1998.
A company spokesperson pointed out that there are very few completely natural deodorants on the market, so there is minimal competition, but added that Kiss My Face is a successful line in its own right with its popular range of soaps, body oils and skin care products that appeal to the natural market. The company uses organically grown products and does not test on animals.
Tom’s of Maine also offers a natural deodorant which is effective, mild and contains no artificial bactericides, according to the company. Tom’s of Maine Natural deodorant utilizes cor-iander oil and lichen extract as its odor fighting main ingredients. The product is available in unscented and honeysuckle rose, or calendula and woodspice gentle formulations for individuals with sensitive skin.
The Tom’s of Maine product is packaged in a glass applicator for recyclability. The product is free of triclosan, a common ingredient in antiperspirants but one that Tom’s of Maine insists is a chemical which some users may find irritating to the skin.
Ban has also joined the botanicals bandwagon. All products in the Ban Naturals line contain vitamin E, as well as aloe and chamomile. The brand’s continued success—once again in the category’s Top 10 brands, according to IRI—led Andrew Jergens to purchase the product from Chattem, Inc. last fall.
Carter-Wallace plans on adding to its Arrid XX Ultra Clear Solid line with its new wild breeze fragrance, a concept that blends well with the natural trend, according to the company. “The Wild Breeze scent captures the essence of the newer ‘nature’-type products,” said Ms. Dobalo. In addition, the company plans on growing its spray line with Arrid XX Cool Shower spray: “This scent was previously introduced in our solid and gel lines and achieved strong success am-ong consumers,” Ms. Dobalo revealed.
Suave has introduced Suave Naturals in freesia, soothing aloe and sun ripened raspberry.
The Naturals portion of the Suave line is currently available in stick form and is geared toward the cost-conscious consu-mer who desires a quality product at an affordable price range.
Whether manufacturers’ efforts toward piquing consumer in-terest will boost sales remains to be seen. In the long run, trusted brands will most likely continue to lead in an industry that must balance functionality with a softer side.