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COVID-19: pressures on the personal care category



COVID-19: pressures on the personal care category

We believe behavioural evidence has a greater role to play to help us see what's happening clearly and to develop growth strategies and responses to them. We have focused on insights that reveal what happens to people’s FMCG purchase and consumption habits whilst staying at home.

This week we have focused on the consumption side of behaviour. We found that 2020 could be a big year for food manufacturers that supply grocery retailers. However, personal care manufacturers might find 2020 to be one of their most challenging years in some time.

This week’s ten insights around consumption behaviour and COVID-19 include:

  1. There's been an increase of in-home meal occasions per week. In France we saw an uplift to 24 from 18 with 3 additional lunch occasions, 1 additional mid-afternoon snacking occasion and 2 additional dinner occasions. There is a similar uplift in countries such as Brazil, Spain and the UK, and this increase is in line with expectations given how often we were eating out-of-home pre-lockdown.
  2. However, the total effect on spend is a reduction of ~20% in the UK and ~10% in Spain, given the higher spend per meal occasion out-of-home. So whilst we talk about food manufacturers winning it is a very different picture for those that supply the at-home occasion vs out-of-home.
  3. The actual time we are taking to prepare our meals remains unchanged at 23 minutes on average. For all the talk of us now ‘scratch’ cooking, any meals taking longer to prep are counterbalanced with quicker and easier meals too. However due to the overall number of cooking occasions increasing we are spending on average 2 extra hours a week preparing our in-home meals.
  4. We next examined when certain food types are being consumed throughout the day and how this compares with how we consumed these products a year ago. What we see is that consumers are finding new occasions for categories during lockdown.
  5. The uplift of home delivery in the UK shows growth of over 200%, driven by six-million extra users. 66% of people say they use home delivery as a treat and reward. By choice or by necessity, home delivery has the potential to be a more permanent change.
  6. If we look specifically at drinking occasions in the US, the number has remained the same. Pre-lockdown the average American consumed beverages eight times out-of-home per week. During lockdown this has dropped to four times per week, with just as many extra in-home occasions keeping the average at 37 drinks per week. Although the number of occasions hasn’t changed what’s been consumed has changed and as a result what is being spent on beverages has too.
  7. Personal care is the FMCG sector hardest hit by COVID-19 and this is reflected in our usage data showing the average number of weekly occasions down by 6 per person. Whilst down it varies considerably by country, the fall in occasions is more than double in Spain at 13, whilst in the US there has been minimal impact with a fall of just 1 occasion.
  8. Next, we look at which categories have seen the biggest fall in occasions. As predicted, it is the more discretionary ones most affected with cosmetics and fragrances. For both categories the trigger for use pre-COVID in 75% of times was work and socialising. In other words, leaving the home.
  9. In France we have seen the number of cosmetics occasions halve during the first month of lockdown and the growth of video conferencing isn’t helping, with two in three Brits using less or no make-up on video conferencing (amongst those who have increased their use of video calls). The end of lockdown cannot come quickly enough for cosmetics.
  10. Lastly, we look at some specific categories which have done well during lockdown with sweet snacking up 41% in France, baking up 61% in the UK and alcohol up in the UK, France and Spain.

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Benjamin Cawthray

Global Thought Leadership Director



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Benjamin Cawthray

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