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Covid-19 Spain: More hand soap in homes than Coca-Cola



Covid-19 Spain: More hand soap in homes than Coca-Cola
  • Purchases of cosmetics and hygiene products have grown by 1.2% since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
  • Hand soap is the product that has seen the greatest increase in sales, entering 1.5 million new homes in the last four weeks.
  • One in four Spaniards state that they have bought vitamins to boost their immune system.

The hygiene measures laid down by health authorities since the coronavirus crisis began have led to hand soap entering 1.5 million new Spanish households, according to the data published today by Kantar, the leading consultant in consumer panels. In this period, hand soap has made its way into more homes than regular Coca-Cola, the product that tops the Brand Footprint ranking for fast-moving consumer goods.


“It’s not just that we’re washing our hands more frequently; to a large extent we’re also are changing what items we’re buying.  Once the lockdown began, half the population (49%) said they had purchased face masks to protect themselves, and 24% stated that they had bought some kind of vitamin supplement to boost their immune system, while only 10% and 9% respectively had done so at the onset of the crisis, in late February,” explains Rosa López, expert in consumer panels at Kantar.

This increase in certain categories contrasts with a drop in the number of homes that are spending on products such as beauty creams and make-up. This has led to hygiene and cosmetics becoming one of the most polarised categories due to the new consumer habits adopted after the arrival of the COVID-19 virus in Spain.

Personal care products are leading sector growth

In order to comply with the health guidelines, people began to stock up on hygiene and cosmetic products before FMCG, with widespread purchasing of hand sanitiser gels and hand soap. This placed the average expenditure in the category at 9.61 euros in the week of 24th February to 1st March, a figure above the previous weeks’ average, which had hovered around 9 euros. This spending rose steadily until the week of 16th-22nd March, when lockdown began and cosmetics stores and other shops had to close their doors, which also caused the average expenditure in the category to drop to 7.15 euros.

Within the category, there is also a notable polarisation between hygiene products and perfumes and cosmetics. The personal care category saw an 11.6% increase in value with respect to the same period the year before (from 24th February to 22nd March), driven mainly by the increase of over 1.5 million households that have purchased hand soap.  Other products in the category whose purchase volume has risen are bath gels, shampoos and hand creams, due to the heavy use of bleach and hand sanitiser gels. On the other hand, categories such as make-up and fragrances have seen their value fall.

“It’s not just that the cosmetics stores and specialised shops are closed. As people aren’t leaving home, we’re seeing that they’re wearing less make-up, putting on less perfume or shaving less frequently. According to our data, in the last few weeks, up to 47% of Spaniards admit to having spent less time on their care and beauty routine. But this doesn’t mean they’ve given up on it entirely. For example, we’ve seen that many people are still using face and hair masks, as well as hair colouring products,” explains the Kantar expert.

As is the trend for the FMCG industry, Spaniards are going to regional and local supermarkets to shop for cosmetics and hygiene products. From 24th February to 22nd March, these establishments have seen an increase not only in the volume of shoppers coming in search of cosmetics and hygiene products (+3.3% with respect to the same period in the previous year) but also in the frequency with which people are shopping for these items (+7.5%).

“With the closure of specialised shops, consumers are going to their local neighbourhood supermarkets to shop, and picking up their cosmetics and hygiene products there, which has increased the sale of own label products, particularly in make-up (5.7 percentage points) and personal care (3.9 percentage points). As these brands are often more affordable, it explains why the average hygiene and cosmetics receipt has dropped by 2.6%, despite more products being purchased in the category,” says Rosa López.

What the post-Covid-19 consumer will be like

The uncertain landscape caused by the coronavirus has left its mark on the purchasing habits and behaviour of Spanish consumers, but what it hasn’t changed is their view of advertising. According to Kantar’s Covid-19 Barometer, 8 out of 10 Spaniards are in favour of brands continuing to advertise their products. That said, ads should take into account the current context, and brands must not be perceived as being insensitive or opportunistic, but as helpful and offering a positive outlook.

“‘When all this is over’ has become one of the buzz terms for facing this situation of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus, but no one knows exactly what’s going to happen,” explains Rosa Lopez. “What we do know is that we will be confronted with a consumer with new needs, values and behaviours who certainly won’t shop like they did before. For example, shoppers will be more digitally-oriented. But if we look at China, we can see how after the ‘crisis’, consumers are anxiously waiting to go shopping again and using products that were not so necessary to them during lockdown, such as beauty and personal care items”.

Get in touch

Rosa López
Individuals Panel Director


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