Unfortunately, efforts to invigorate sales of deodorants have yet to pay off. According to Euromonitor International, European sales of deodorants were valued at $4.5 billion in 2015, a middling 0.7% increase on the previous year. The largest market was the UK, accounting for 22% of Europe’s sales, but registering no growth year-on-year. Germany and France were the next largest, accounting for 19% and 16% of the European total. They were the only European countries to record growth, up 0.7% and 1.9% respectively.
No Time to Experiment
Canadean has investigated deodorant shopping habits among European consumers and discovered extremely low levels of experimentation. Just 16% of consumers say they like to try new products, 37% occasionally buy something different and almost half go for the same product every time. A key reason could be the dominance of big international brands, making it hard for new brands to gain a foothold. According to Kantar Worldpanel, Nivea leads the European market and takes pole position in Germany, France, Russia and Poland. Dove is No. 1 in Italy, Sure in the UK and Sanex in Spain.
One of the biggest challenges facing deodorant brands is high penetration, which leaves little room to attract new users. Kantar Worldpanel data for 2015 confirms that 79% of Europeans use deodorants, rising to 86% of British and 84% of Spanish and Polish consumers. Most use it between 5-7 times a week, making it a key part of the daily routine. Italians and Russians are least engaged with fewer users using less frequently. Women are more likely to use deodorant than men and the difference is significant in Italy, France and Russia. The most engaged users of deodorant are British and Polish consumers, who also use more regularly, while Russians and Italians are less involved.
Aerosol spray is the most popular format, accounting for 60% of all European purchases, according to Euromonitor. However, they are more dominant in some markets than others. Kantar Worldpanel 2015 data shows that sprays dominate deodorant usage in the UK (58%), Poland (55%) and Germany (52%). In particular, British and Polish men are keen users of aerosol spray. Body spray is used by 17% of Europeans, peaking at 30% of Polish consumers. It is also quite popular in Spain and the UK. Meanwhile, roll-on is much bigger for Spanish women and has overtaken aerosols as the No. 1 format.
Preventing odor is the most important driver for deodorant usage in most countries. However, for Italians and Polish, the need to freshen up is also important. Preventing perspiration is hardly an issue for Italians, but is a key concern for British, Polish and French consumers. These differences must be considered in any communications by brands trying to stay relevant with current consumers and when targeting new users.
At this year’s In-Cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations, Ramaa Chipalkatti, lead analyst for Canadean, identified opportunities for deodorant brands looking to invigorate this “quiet” category. She suggested that understanding age group nuances can facilitate a more personalized offering, such as products suitable for older consumers or for gender-specific needs. A combination of novelty and efficacy in smart product design can also add value and differentiate products in a very crowded market.
For example, L’Oréal Men Expert Clean Power XXL Roll-On comes in lime green packaging, has a clean and fresh woody fragrance and is formulated to make hair appear thinner when it regrows. The tagline is “suitable for groomed armpits.”
Scent can also elevate consumer perceptions from the functional to experiential, such as French brand Cadum Deodorant Micro Talc, formulated without aluminium salts and alcohol and which is scented with peony. Dutch-owned Rituals uses fragrance to evoke mood, such as Sakura, based on cherry blossom and rice milk, and Samurai, scented with cedar wood and bamboo.
Deodorant brands are starting to address the stigma around stress sweating. In several European countries, Nivea launched its range of Stress Protect antiperspirant deodorants. Available in variants for men and women, the products contain an antibacterial formula with “stress protect” actives and a zinc complex to provide reliable protection against stress sweating.
Sure Maximum Protection Stress Control offers twice the protection of regular antiperspirant in a cream format. Designed to be applied at night when sweat glands are less active, the cream forms a protective layer across sweat glands and is said to provide maximum protection the day after, even after showering.
Active lifestyles have long been targeted by deodorant brands. A new twist on this theme comes from British brand Mio Fit Skin For Life, in the form of Clean Slate Workout Swipes. These jumbo-sized wipes are reportedly strong enough for underarms as well as to refresh the body pre- or post-workouts.
Thermal and heat protect claims are appearing in more deodorant formulations which claim to guard against extremely high temperatures. Garnier Mineral Action Control Thermic debuted in Eastern Europe earlier this year, promising “anti-heat peaks” and 72-hour protection. It claims to be resistant to temperatures up to 45°C.
Perhaps the most exciting development in the deodorant category has yet to launch. Together with the backing of French scientists, L’Oreal is investigating how Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) can be used as a more natural alternative to the chemicals used in antiperspirants and deodorants. The MIPs cosmetic patent was registered in 2014.The technology is still under development and is subject to more testing to establish its potential. Until then, deodorant brands will continue to push the boundaries beyond functional hygiene by focusing on a host of targeted solutions.
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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.