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The Analyst’s Take: Natural personal care growth remains steady despite COVID-19

Claire Morton
Even in the midst of a pandemic that has changed personal care habits for many consumers, growth remains steady at 5.5%, but the impact is quite different across categories and sales channels. This is the latest installment in our data discussion from Nutrition Business Journal’s senior analyst.

Even in the middle of a pandemic that has altered the personal care habits of many consumers, natural and organic personal care growth remains steady at 5.5%. However, digging beneath the surface of this $16.5 billion market reveals that the growth trajectory varies wildly across categories and channels as a direct result of consumers' shifting lifestyle and shopping patterns in 2020.

Not surprisingly, personal care categories related to vanity and grooming took a hit this year as many Americans have been spending more time at home. Natural and organic cosmetics, a $939 million market, had been growing at a steady rate of 7-8% for the past five years, but dipped to just 3.2% growth in 2020. Another example here is shaving product sales, which are expected to decline by 9%.

On the other hand, some categories are faring much better this year, namely those related to hygiene and self care. The biggest winner in personal care this year is the $2.2 billion natural and organic bath and toilet soap market, which is expected to grow over 20%, driven by a spike in sales of hand soap and sanitizer in 2020.

Arguably the most dramatic impact, though, is to sales channel dynamics in the industry. While the shift to e-commerce this year has been universal across industries and categories, the impact in personal care is particularly notable. The retail landscape in this industry is quite different than in supplements or food and beverage, with sales coming in through channels like department stores, spas and specialty personal care stores, all of which took an incredible hit in 2020, with many permanent closures.

By Nutrition Business Journal projections, this will lead to “other direct channels,” of which e-commerce is the large majority, reaching $6.4 billion by 2023, more than doubling from $3.0 billion in 2019.

On the surface, the natural and organic personal care industry growth trend ticking up from 5.1% in 2019 to 5.5% in 2020 might seem less than newsworthy. But looking at the insights across categories and channels tracked by NBJ, the story is quite a bit more interesting.

nbj personal care special reportGet more data and insights in NBJ's Personal Care Special Report.

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