CVS

After a tumultuous 10 months of holding back on new launches, the mass market’s biggest players are preparing an influx of product debuts to heighten consumer interest.

Consumer behavior — and how quickly it will evolve — hinges upon the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers continue to don masks and spend more time indoors.

“Consumer behavior depends on how long we’re in lockdown,” said Lisa Mulyk, senior vice president, strategic solutions group at IRI. “If it sticks, you’re still going to see a lot of the same trends that we saw over the last year.”

Whether it’s a D.I.Y. approach to hair care, consumer interest and education around skin-care, or traction with long-wear cosmetics, the mass market is hedging its bets on consumer behavior sticking to the COVID-19-caused trends — at least for the first half of 2021.

Shampoo, conditioner and coloring, which have grown 1.3 percent, 7.5 percent and 7.2 percent according to IRI, are a top focus for Unilever, who has new hair launches in Shea Moisture, Dove, Nexxus, Tresemmé and Suave. “We have a lot of innovations in the hair category,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer, beauty and personal care, North America at Unilever. “This has been an enormous shift, especially for Black women, who averaged more than seven salon visits per year before COVID-19. Black women have started new hair-care and styling routines at home as they look for products and resources to help solve hair needs.”

In the same solution-oriented fashion, SheaMoisture’s Wig & Weave Tea Tree and Borage Seed Oil line launches this month with seven stockkeeping units. The products, which include a shampoo, conditioner and detangler, bonding glue, mousse, oil spray, bond release spray and scalp soother, range in price from $7.99 to $9.99.

At Dove, the focus is on moisture and repair. Dove’s new Hair Therapy range targets hydration, breakage and dry scalp with shampoos and conditioners focusing on each concern, alongside leave-in treatments for scalp and breakage concerns. “With limited access to self-care outside of our homes, our brands are innovating with technology advancements that are typically more prevalent in premium skin-care products. Dove Hair Therapy, which just launched, provides hair care with potent moisturizers and ingredients that lean into the skinification of hair,” Bracey said. “The collection features ingredients like vitamin B3 and hyaluronic acid.”

Unilever isn’t the only company leveraging the skinification of hair —  at Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena’s skin-care line, Hydro Boost, now has treatment counterparts in the hair category. “We wanted to bring the skinification of hair in, and we have a big Neutrogena launch this year that’s bringing skin-care ingredients to hair care,” said Hanan Wajih, director of marketing for Vogue International, the J&J segment responsible for distributing hair-care products. “We’re also encouraging consumers to be able to do what they would do in the salon but at home on their own.” Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Deep Treatment Mask with Hyaluronic Acid will launch for $11.99.

Over in skin care, consumers are expected to remain engaged with their at-home skin care regimens as well.

“Skin care is something people have put a lot of time and effort into and they’re doing a lot more of it at home,” Mulyk said. The category itself grew 2.8 percent year-over-year, according to IRI.

Retailers have also taken notice of consumers’ growing awareness of ingredients. “One of the things we are excited about continuing to build out this year is the idea of skin health,” said Andrea Harrison, vice president of beauty and personal care at CVS. “As a retailer who’s in health overall, we’re also always looking at bringing the best of health and beauty. We know that the customer sees those things as very closely aligned.”

Ingredient callouts have been a winning strategy for L’Oréal Paris, given the popularity of its Derm Intensives line. Nathalie Gerschtein, president of the consumer products division at L’Oréal USA, expects consumers to stay invested in their skin. “Last year, L’Oréal Paris had really high rates of engagement, and I’m expecting it to continue into this year,” she said. “Our Derm Intensives line, and each of the specific ingredients we’ve been bringing to the mass market have been very successful.” To that end, the brand is launching its Revitalift Derm Intensives 0.3% Pure Retinol Serum later this month for $36.99.

Ingredient callouts have become part of Olay’s go-to-market strategy as well. “A behavior we’ve noted this year is the increase in search on skin-care ingredients, like collagen and retinol,” said Eric Gruen, vice president of Olay North America. “Olay’s new Collagen Peptide 24 skin-care line answers our consumers’ search queries for ingredients with a product that has been formulated with our highest concentration of collagen peptides and niacinamide.” The Collagen Peptide 24 line, which includes a cleanser, moisturizer, serum and eye cream, debuted earlier this month, ranging in price from $7.12 to $28.99.

Color cosmetics leaders are also seeing growing interest in ingredients, but consumers remain more focused on what’s left out of the formulas. “It’s certainly becoming more of an expectation around the mid- to premium price points within mass, which is where we play, and that is why it’s important for us to continue to drive ‘clean,'” said Kevin Shapiro, senior vice president of U.S. marketing, consumer beauty at Coty Inc. Cover Girl’s latest play in the clean space is LashBlast Clean Mascara, which is vegan, cruelty-free and priced at $7.99.

Cover Girl isn’t the only brand to focus on eyes. In fact, Mulyk said its one of the areas with the most opportunity. “We anticipate an ongoing focus on eye for at least the first half of the year, depending on how long it takes for people to feel safe to not wear a mask,” she said. “From a color standpoint, we’re also expecting heavy emphasis on long wear and foundations and face products that are a little bit more resilient, so they can withstand being under a mask.”

Longwear complexion products have helped E.l.f. Beauty, which tracked growth in 2020, despite facial cosmetics falling 20.9 percent, per IRI. “I’m bullish on the category,” said Tarang Amin, chief executive officer of E.l.f. Beauty. “We’ve seen real strength across our lineup, especially in our complexion business. So whether you wear a mask, whether you’re caught on Zoom, things like our Poreless Putty Primers or Camo Concealers, these are products that you can use every day,” he said. E.l.f. is taking the aforementioned concealer into the foundation category with Camo CC Cream, which launched for $14.

Although Amin is all-in on complexion, he’s confident in a strong return for the rest of the category. “At some point, there will be enough vaccines, people will be able to get around to their normal lives. When that happens, I do think there’ll be a pent-up desire to express yourself.”

For more from WWD.com, see:

Esi Eggleston Bracey on Shifting Multicultural Marketing

Master Class: Nathalie Gerschtein

Essie Goes Vegan, ‘Eight-Free’

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