Regarded by many Europeans as a functional daily essential, deodorants have long been a relatively unexciting product category and posted just 2% growth in 2013, according to Euromonitor. However, innovative formats and a trend toward “chemical-free” formulations and products enriched with organic and natural ingredients are fueling consumer interest and a willingness to trade up to value added products.
According to Euromonitor, the European market for deodorants was valued at more than $5.1 billion in 2013. The UK and Germany together accounted for nearly half of European sales, with France, Italy and Spain putting on a good show. Although total European sales have been sluggish, there have been one or two bright spots, including Turkey, which posted 9.8% growth in 2013, Malta, up 5.4% and Gibraltar, up 5.2%.
Unsurprisingly, the two concerns for most consumers are whether the product combats odor or perspiration. According to Datamonitor’s 2014 Consumer Survey Insight (Europe), consumer concern regarding bad body odor and excessive sweating is higher in hotter countries such as Spain and Italy. On average, a quarter of consumers in Western Europe express high levels of concern, compared to 48% of Spanish and 36% of Italian consumers. However, German consumers are the most hygiene-conscious Europeans, with 68% claiming to use deodorants daily or almost every day, compared to 58% of Italians and 63% of Spaniards.
Searching for Value
Last year’s Datamonitor Consumer Survey Insight (Europe) listed the factors that have a high amount of influence on personal hygiene product choice. Obtaining the best value for money tops the list among 55% of Europeans and is likely to be the result of several years of economic uncertainty that have led consumers to be more cautious about their product choices. Factors such as scent/sensations from using the product, ease of use and natural/organic ingredients come lower on the list of priorities.
Deodorant brands cannot get away with offering minimal benefits and most have multiple features, such as stain-free, 24- or 48-hour protection, suitable for sensitive skin and the addition of natural ingredients. Therefore, brands must work harder to stand out on shelf. For example, Soft & Gentle deodorants from Godrej were relaunched earlier this year to provide 48-hour protection with skin-friendly ingredients such as soybean. The Advanced Body Responsive formula uses an ingredient that is activated by sensing moisture on the skin and also does not leave white or yellow stains on clothes.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, aerosols and sprays are the preferred format for 50% of Europeans. Roll-on deos are particularly strong in Spain with 38% of consumers, compared to 44% who go for aerosols. Sticks are a niche category, used by less than one in 10 Europeans, although they are more popular among Russian consumers, with 17% of them opting for sticks.
One in five Europeans uses a body spray, a hybrid between deodorant and fragrance, and a variant that is favored by young consumers. Poland has the highest penetration of body sprays, with 31% claiming to use one in an average week. Kantar Worldpanel data suggests that Polish consumers are more engaged with different formats as they boast the highest penetration of aerosols and frequency of deodorant usage as a whole. Preventing odor and perspiration are both important attributes among the Poles who look for stronger protection from their deodorants.
Deo formats hadn’t changed in decades until the launch of Unilever’s men’s compressed deodorants last year. Unilever waited until March to introduce the women’s versions for its Sure, Dove and Vaseline deo brands. The smaller pack is half the size of traditional aerosol deodorants but provides the same level of protection and is said to last as long as bigger cans, because they contain half the gas volume and up to 28% less aluminum. The move to compressed technology is part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan to reduce the environmental impact of its products across the lifecycle by 2020.
Another consumer benefit of compressed deodorants is that they use less propellant, so the spray feels warmer and softer on the skin. Education has been an important aspect to the launch of compressed deodorants and Unilever has deliberately left larger packs on shelf as a reference point for consumers to make comparisons and understand the concept.
New on the Market
Datamonitor has spotted several new deo launches of note for 2014. Inhibitif “hair-free” deodorant is a British brand that combines deodorant and hair growth suppression and is claimed to save time and money for consumers. The product contains multiple actives to minimize the need for hair removal under the arms while also fighting odor.
When targeting men, the emphasis is on long-lasting protection and convenience. Garnier Men Mineral Antiperspirant Deodorant Protection 5 from Poland boasts 72-hour protection and five other benefits, including anti-odor, anti-humidity, anti-irritation, anti-white marks and anti-yellow stains.
L’Oréal Men Expert Anti Transpirant Thermic Resist was launched in France in March and claims 48-hour protection against perspiration while being effective even at 45°C.
Unilever Espana has brought deodorant and hair gel together in its Axe Peace kit, which is aimed at young men aged 25-35.
Teens and pre-teens are a focus for deodorant manufacturers trying to exploit new niches in a crowded market. Keep It Kind, created by British company Kind2Skin, is a line of three aluminum-free deodorants for kids aged eight to 14 years that experience body odor from the onset of puberty. Samfarmer is a colorful range of unisex toiletries for 12-18 year old teens, which includes a roll-on deodorant.
Innovation is key to keeping consumers interested in the deodorant category, although it must be backed by believable claims. European consumers are more concerned with getting value for money than the latest novelty.
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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.