The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has result in significant shifts in the beauty and personal care industry, highlighting certain concerns such as health, safety and efficacy.
“Very clearly with social isolation and restrictions, hygiene and protection needs have accelerated. We obviously see this trend of protection from the virus happening, but we also see a couple of associated trends,” said Srikanth Vaduvur, VP personal care solutions, care chemicals Asia Pacific, BASF.
For instance, Vaduvur told CosmeticsDesign-Asia the lockdowns have pushed consumers to rethink their beauty routines and make more time at-home pampering sessions.
“There's quite a bit of indulgence happening among the consumer, that means the otherwise taken for granted functionalities like moisturisation and feel-good sensorial effects are more accentuated,” said Vaduvur.
Additionally, the drive to protect oneself from the virus has uncovered the need for immunity boosting products.
“With the blurring of the food and cosmetics industries, we are seeing things like vitamin C, using fruits, or other cosmetic claims connected to immunity boosting such as microbiome beauty. We've gotten tremendous response from our customers around this,” said Vaduvur.
Aside from the ‘obvious’ trends, Vaduvur highlighted that the firm has observed some existing trends that have been greatly accelerated post-outbreak.
“What is very interesting to me are the long-term implications of COVID-19. To my surprise, we did not see new trends happen but the acceleration of pre-existing trends with much faster adaptation,” said Vaduvur.
One of the trends that have been augmented is the cosmeceutical, or derma beauty trend, which the specialty chemical company has been tracking since the start of the year.
The firm observed the consumer buzz around derma beauty products ‘explode’ across Asia in April due to COVID-19.
“The derma segment symbolises the credibility of doctors and scientists. We believe consumers will switch more towards the derma segment. It’s proof that performance and efficacy orientation is getting much strong and I would attribute this change to COVID-19,” said Vaduvur.
Another trend that has accelerated due to the pandemic is the consumer demand for more natural products, which is manifesting as a preference for traditional remedies such as traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurveda.
“We all knew the natural and bio-based trend was going to come very strong. Faith and trust on age-old remedies are coming back in a stronger way. Look at the kind of faith people are willing to have on naturally derived ingredients and consumers products with natural claims, it’s gone off the chart because of COVID-19,” said Vaduvur.
Keeping up in real-time
At the rate trends are shifting in the market, Vaduvur acknowledges that it has become more crucial for cosmetic companies to be more agile and adaptable.
The company launched D’litE3-X, a mobile application that collates information on consumer trends, products, BASF concepts, formulations and ingredients for brand owners using a proprietary patent-pending algorithm.
“To put it simply, it helps to answer the biggest question in every customers’ mind: what should I launch next?” said Vaduvur.
The mobile app is the result of the company’s aim to stay one step ahead of the trends in the market, a task it was struggling with before.
"A couple of years ago, we witnessed, especially in Asia, we started to feel that we were catching the tail and not at the forefront of the changes that were happening,” said Vaduvur.
To do so, the company formed the consumer insight and digital solutions (CIDS) team, which consisted of experts with backgrounds in consumer analytics and brand companies.
“Our CIDS team works to give us a hint into the minds of the consumers and what they are looking into,” said Vaduvur.
The app has been operating on a closed-loop, invite-based system since last year and the company has received positive feedback about the app.
The app’s launch has been especially timely given that most ingredient trade shows have been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19, said Vaduvur.
“COVID-19 has accelerated many things that would have happened four, fives years later. We imagined our idea of the app would be value adding in a couple of years. But now that face-to-face has been reduced… we’ve are able to capture our customers through that app.”
Vaduvur added that the firm expected to see more of its peers coming up with similar digital solutions in the future.
“We see ourselves as a pioneer of taking a holistic end-to-end approach towards answering the all-important question of what should be launched next.”