It’s Been a Rough Road for European Body Care

By Katie Rodgers, European Cosmetic Markets | June 9, 2009

It is fair to say that several countries in the European Big 5 took a big hit in the body care category last year. France, Germany and Spain each reported a drop in sales, while Italy registered only a 0.8% increase. The UK came out as the champion of this category, leaping 6.9% in 2008, all the more impressive considering the UK has been in the grip of recession for the past year.

Looking at the situation more closely makes for worrisome reading. France, whose consumers have always been body care product pioneers, reported a slimming of sales for the second year running.

According to figures from French industry body Febea, body care sales dropped 2.2% to $788 million. Despite the decline, there was better news in certain channels. The mass market held its head up high, encouraged by heavy discounting, and put on 3.2% growth to $248 million. Sadly, this was not replicated across all channels, with pharmacy suffering a dismal 4.6% decline to $286 million. Similarly, the direct sales channel also hit the skids, falling 6.1% to $101 million.

Trend-wise, natural and organic products have a clear affinity with French body care consumers and many domestic companies have created certified natural and organic products in this niche. Nuxe introduced its first organic body care line, Bio Beauté, which boasts organic certification from Ecocert. Within the body care range there are four SKUs— Nourishing Body Oil, Firming Body Oil, Refreshing Deodorant and Nourishing Hand Cream—and each product is based on Nuxe’s Pulpy Cosmetology, which features organic fruit extracts rich in fatty acids and antioxidants.

Yves Rocher, meanwhile, relaunch- ed its Plaisirs Nature body collection. The products were reformulated to emphasize their healthy, natural positioning and a repackaging makes the products recyclable and biodegradable. Two lines were introduced based on olive oil and oats to tie in with the enduring popularity of natural products in France.

Drying Up in Germany

The German body care sector had a similar woeful tale to tell, as sales fell 1.6% to $748 million in 2008. Volume sales were largely static, however, as sales fell 0.5% to 203.3 million units. The adult body care segment, easily the largest sector in the German market, went through a very rough patch, losing 4.1% to $500 million.

Meanwhile baby care body products, which are also extremely popular with adults, declined just 0.3% to $100 million, according to data from IRI Germany.

Although Germans are not spending as many euros on their body care products of late, domestic companies are still investing in new product launches, confident that things will pick up again as long as the offering is there. Natural and organic body care products are as popular in Germany as they are in France.

Lavera Naturkosmetik has added to its existing Body Spa range with wild rose and citrus fruit fragrance variants. The lines include bath and shower gels and body lotions. The lotions contain primarily natural ingredients including almond oil, soya oil, shea butter, plant derived moisturizers, fruit oils and fruit extracts. Body Spa Wild Rose contains myrtle extracts for a more gentle and relaxing body care experience, while Citrus Fruits body lotion contains organic peppermint and organic hamamelis. There is also a new Body Peeling product in the Lavera stable that contains exfoliating particles and jojoba wax pearls to complement the existing organic aloe vera extracts, jojoba oil, mint and menthol essences.

Inspiring Italians

Italian consumers have not turned their backs on the body care sector, as sales rose a slight 0.8% in the past year, according to Unipro. Sales for softening creams and anti-cellulite products remained stable, but more specific sub-sectors did not fare so well. For example, sales of anti-aging and firming products fell in value and volume terms, totalling $84 million and $88 million, respectively, in value terms. Format-wise, body waters and oils remained very popular with Italian consumers, growing an impressive 5.1% to $37 million last year.

Italian stalwart Collistar (The Bolton Group) claims to be the leader in the selective perfumery channel, with a particular focus on body toning of late. Its new toning and firming range Speciale Corpo Perfetto, gained a 30.5% share in the selective perfumery category last year. Collistar recently launched Olio Rassodante Supertonificante, a toning and firming oil with natural essential oils. It features Collagener, an active ingredient said to stimulate the production of collagen, and a mix of vegetable oils rich in omega-6, omega-9 and vitamin E.

A Slump in Spain

The Spanish body care category is certainly feeling the pinch as the recession there tightens its grip and consumer spending declines in turn. AC Nielsen reported that sales have dropped by 3% in the mass channels, which accounts for 85% of total value sales in Spain, with value sales dropping 3% to $218 million on volume of 13.4 million units. Moisturizing products held the lion’s share of sales at 55.4% while body oils and anti-cellulite products followed next in popularity among Spanish consumers.

Body oils, in particular, made a comeback in Spain last year, largely the result of their widespread use in massage and aromatherapy treatments that are extremely popular with Spaniards.

As already mentioned, anti-cellulite products were also popular with Spanish consumers last year. On this front, home-grown company Natural Honey introduced a moisturizing and firming lotion based on marine algae to combat cellulite. Meanwhile, the Spanish leader in anti-cellulite and exfoliating formulas, L’Oréal Body Expert, added Perfect Slim Lifting Pro, which comes equipped with a massage head for optimum product application.

Body Beautiful

The UK was the only body care market in the Big 5 to post sterling results in 2008, according to TNS Worldpanel. In 2007, the UK reported a 3.2% decline, so this good news was even more welcome. UK body care sales reached $613 million, a rise of 6.9% while volume rose 4.4% to 20.56 million units in 2008.

New product innovation has much to do with dragging British body care out of the doldrums and key launches were plentiful. Iconic British brand Crabtree and Evelyn was particularly active last year with the launch of Aromatherapy Distillations range. The extensive range has both a home and body care section, with the body care products being made with 100% essential oil blends. These blends include Lavender & Rosewood, Eucalyptus & Lime and Lemon & Coriander variants each said to offer different benefits for the skin from cleansing to nourishing.

Looking to the Future

The course of European body care hasn’t run as smoothly as expected in the past year, and with the exception of the UK, the Big 5 has a lot to do to recover from this recent dry spell. But innovation seems high and there has been no shortage when it came to getting new products to market. If the trend continues, the market may get more toned and supple in the future.

About the Author
Katie Rodgers is editor ofEuropean Cosmetic Markets, which is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited, Tel: (44) 20 7549 8626; Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622.