Hair Care Sales Slow In Much of Europe

By Imogen Matthews | August 2, 2013

Hair care products, such as shampoos and conditioners, are  widely used by most consumers in Western Europe, so any sales gains in these categories are unspectacular. Rather, the potential for growth is higher in Central and Eastern Europe, where consumers are catching up to Western European markets in terms of use. According to Datamonitor, growth rates for shampoos and conditioners have been low due to the difficult economic conditions, resulting in consumers cutting back on their purchases. As a result, retailers have encouraged purchasing by introducing deep discounting and 2-for-1 offers that have had the effect of devaluing the markets.

Who Uses What and Why
Overall, European shampoo sales rose 2.1% last year to top $6.5 billion, while conditioner sales increased 1.9% to nearly $2.3 billion. In a shakeup within country ranks, Russia holds the No. 2 spot in the shampoo category, with sales of $799 million and is No. 5 in conditioners, with sales of nearly $169 million. The gains were enough to knock Spain out of the Top 5 last year.

While most European women use shampoo, the addition of conditioner to the hair care routine is not widespread, according to Kantar Worldpanel. While nearly half of all European women use conditioner, only 1 in 20 men use it. British women are the biggest users of conditioner, with 69% penetration, compared to just 33% for France and 41% for Germany. Even British men are embracing the concept of conditioner more than other European men, although penetration levels are far lower at just 11% for GB, dropping to a mere 2% for France.

Kantar Worldpanel’s research shows further differences in terms of why consumers use conditioner. British women tend to look for moisturizing properties (64%) and are less likely to go for detangling conditioners (40%), than the Germans (72%) and French (67%). German women are also keen on conditioners that add shine (30%) compared to the European average of 21%. Strengthening hair is important to men and women in Poland and Russia.

Datamonitor’s Consumer Survey 2013, which focuses on the UK market, highlights the importance of  “cosmetic” or appearance-enhancing benefits in hair care, such as anti-aging, hair thickening benefits or products addressing graying hair.

“Fifty-five percent of UK consumers stated that whether a product feels nice has a high or very high amount of influence on improving their opinion of a health and beauty product,” said Katie Page, senior analyst for Datamonitor. “UK women aged 35-44 were the most likely to value sensory properties.”

According to Datamonitor, 69% of women in this age group said that it would have a high or very high influence.

Innovative Concepts
Increasingly, hair care makers are incorporating innovative and performance-related features to their products to help them stand out as more than functional daily essentials. A recent example comes from celebrity hair care range John Frieda, which has extended its famous Frizz-Ease brand with Dream Curls Enhancing Oil, a lightweight oil elixir that blends two liquids together to create a smoothing, frizz-fighting formulation.

A novel hair care idea, launched exclusively in Selfridges, London, in July, is called Concoctions. Customers choose a fragranced base that gets mixed with two of eight “superserum shots” of their choice. These shots contain a concentrated blend of natural extracts, vitamins and actives. Founder Alex Epstein, explains the thinking behind Concoctions: “When it came to our hair care developments, we realized that consumers were being forced to choose between different benefits. People told us that they wanted to combine different benefits into a single product. With Concoctions, the consumer really does feel they are getting something that is very personal to them.”

Hair Colorant Trends
The European market for hair colorants rose 1.9% last year to more than $4.2 billion, according to Datamonitor. Germany and Russia are the biggest markets for home hair colorants, valued at $590 million and $575 million, respectively. Although growth has been fairly low, the category is expected to expand further as consumers turn away from expensive salon treatments and look to home color kits as a cheaper option. As a result, many brands are extending their hair colorants portfolio with the addition of foam/oil formulas and wider ranges of colors.

“Several categories are benefiting from the affordable luxury trend as consumers seek out luxury-style products to obtain salon results at home,” said Datamonitor’s Page. “Premium hair care brand John Frieda’s Precision Foam Color range is an example of this.”

Celebrity and fashion trends strongly influence new product development. The Wild Ombre dip-dye hair kit range from L’Oréal Préférence demonstrates how products are adapting as consumers look to achieve on-trend results at home. This lightening product is said to adapt to hair color and is applied using an applicator.

In the past, permanent colorants, a $2.7 billion segment, needed to be mixed together and used immediately. L’Oreal Paris has come up with a more user-friendly solution by sourcing sophisticated packaging from Japan for its Mousse Absolue by Préférence permanent hair colorant, which consists of two aerosol spray devices that work instantly with a single push. This means consumers can reuse the product several weeks after the first application.

John Frieda Precision Foam Color was the first permanent foam hair colorant, which has been followed by mousse/foam products from L’Oréal and Garnier. For example, Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Foam contains surface polymers that coat the hair during the coloring process and smooth down the cuticles of the hair for a silky smooth finish. Another Garnier colorant is Olia, which has replaced the traditional ammonia-based formulation with one based on natural flower oils. Ammonia-free, it is claimed to be kinder to the scalp and the cuticle of each hair fiber is less compromised.

Generating growth in mature markets such as hair care remains a challenge for European manufacturers, due to high penetration and deep discounting. However, this has not prevented the launch of several innovative products, which surely must remain the key to engaging consumers and stimulating sales.

Imogen Matthews
Headington, Oxford UK
Tel: +44 1865 764918

Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.
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