Consumer usage of deodorant/antiperspirant formats varies by country. Mintel’s research for 2017 shows that around 40% of French, German and Italian consumers select the roll-on format, while 30% of French, Italian and Spanish consumers prefer aerosol sprays for daily use.
While leading European deodorant/antiperspirant brands focus on promoting highly effective formulations as essential for daily personal care routines, consumers are open to new concepts.
Indeed, GlobalData research suggests that experimentation is rife within the category, especially in Eastern Europe. In Russia, 80% of consumers show a tendency to experiment with different products, as do other Eastern European countries including Romania (79%), Poland (78%) and Ukraine (75%). Further research from Mintel shows that the Italians are the most experimental in their use of formats, with slightly more than 20% saying they are more willing to try wipes, gels or cream deodorants/antiperspirants than other Europeans. Their openness suggests a possible targeting opportunity for brands that have these formats in their portfolio.
Europeans Seek Natural
The draw of natural formulations has been increasing and is the leading factor that would make 48% of European consumers choose one brand over another, according to GlobalData’s 2017 primary consumer research.
“This has paved the way for the emergence of natural products, some with a premium positioning, that capture the health-focused consumer who is prepared to trade up,” stated Lia Neophytou, an analyst with GlobalData.
An example is the launch in June 2018 of UK-based Elsa’s Organic Skinfoods Ocean Natural Deodorant Crème, a unisex crème-to-powder product containing coconut oil, peppermint, tea tree, rose geranium and patchouli, that offers 24-hour protection. Another is French aromatherapy brand Laboratoire Saint Come Deocouvert Natural Body Deodorant, which claims to eliminate smells by absorbing them via active molecules present in its fruit-based formulation. It contains 70% natural alcohol and is packaged in a 100% recyclable bottle.
Meanwhile, Mintel identifies a focus on “clean” ingredients which it defines as natural or synthetic ingredients that “do no harm.” All can be grouped into various sub-categories. For example, charcoal is a trendy ingredient used to detox and control body odor as in Unilever-owned Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium Mineral Enriched Natural Deodorant, which is vegetarian, aluminum-free and cruelty free. Expect charcoal to make an appearance in other Unilever deodorant brands. Charcoal is also a highlighted ingredient in Kaia Natural The Takesumi Detox Charcoal Underarm Detox Kit. This proprietary, three-part system is designed to “detox” underarms. It is 99% natural, vegan and aluminum-free.
Prebiotics and wellness claims extend to deodorants with Green People Organic Lifestyle for Men Mint & Prebiotics Deodorant Roll On, which is vegan, cruelty-free and aluminum-free. Vapour Organic Beauty AER Next-Level Lavender Myrrh Deodorant is a so-called green deodorant containing plant and mineral actives that transforms from a gel to powder, creating a light barrier on the skin. The growing European trend for naturally formulated deodorants/antiperspirants is strongest in Germany, the UK and France, according to Mintel.
“Brands are backing key hero ingredients and promoting natural and organic along with aluminum-free claims to create storylines that match an individual country’s evolving eco-ethical expectations and needs,” observed Mintel global skin care analyst David Tyrrell.
Younger consumers, in particular, are more selective in purchasing products they perceive contain only safe ingredients—and aluminum is gaining a bad reputation. Mintel witnessed marked growth in aluminum-free claims in European deodorant launches from 10% in 2014 to 26% in 2018 (January-May). This is reflected in Unilever’s move into the category following its acquisition of Schmidt’s natural, aluminum-free deodorant brand in late 2017.
“Unilever is expanding the ‘clean,’ message with the launch of Dove 0% Aluminum Original Deodorant that showcases the company’s commitment for its brands, both big and small, to use ‘safe’ ingredients,” noted Tyrell.
However, according to Neophytou, the allure surrounding the aluminum-free claim is not novel as such products have long been stocked by niche health and wellness stores and online retailers.
“This claim meets consumer demands for natural and chemical-free formulations, an important driver of product choice for today’s consumers, so it is unsurprising that mainstream brands such as Dove are capitalizing on this trend,” she said.
Initial high hopes for fast growth of compressed aerosol/spray formats have dwindled after a promising start in 2015 when Unilever popularized the concept in deodorants/antiperspirants.
Compressed aerosols/sprays originated in Europe and extended to Latin America in 2015 before spreading across the globe, observed Tyrell.
Few European consumers have adopted this novel format, according to Mintel GNPD, which has noted the number of European compressed aerosol/spray launches waning in popularity from 8% of European deo aerosol/sprays in 2015 to just 3% in 2016 before leveling out in 2018.
A more optimistic view is offered by Neophytou, who pointed to a shift in sustainable products. “It can be expected that the compressed format will replace traditional aerosols in the future as consumers become more conscious of sustainable packaging and environmental issues,” she said.
Consumers’ growing interest in products that are beneficial to their health and wellbeing will also drive innovation and have the potential to boost overall category sales growth.
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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.