Aptar study reveals consumer habits during pandemic

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‘Eco-responsibility’, safety, and product impact on health and wellbeing have been highlighted as additional purchase needs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in a new study.

Aptar Beauty & Home’s COVID-19 Foresight study explores how the pandemic has affected consumption patterns and usage when it comes to beauty, personal care, and home care products.

The study found in many ways, traditional consumption patterns have ‘drastically altered’ the usage rates of cosmetics and fragrances. In France and the US, these have resulted mainly from imposed social distancing measures like working from home, limited social outings, and new hygiene norms – face masks. However, in Brazil, the decline in these categories stem from social distancing and ‘economic rationales’.

These changes have helped Aptar Beauty & Home determine three key lifestyle drivers: Germ-osophy, a heightened awareness of hygiene and health; cocooning, an increased desire to improve the health and quality of the home, and ‘Me vs the Planet’, the tension between concerns for sustainability and demand for product effectiveness.

Purchasing criteria has also shifted. The most common purchasing drivers for consumers when selecting products are function, efficiency, price, and experience. According to Aptar’s study, the pandemic has brought forward additional purchase needs, like the ‘eco-responsibility’ factor, safety, and product impact on health and wellbeing.

While purchase decisions differ slightly depending on what the company refers to as local nuances, the study shows that since the pandemic, buying habits now rotate between the need for personal safety and hygienic products, environmental sustainability, and simple functionality or price.

Personal care

Globally, the consumption of bath and shower products increased significantly during the pandemic, between a 10% and 34% increase, depending on the country, which could be due to spending more time at home, indulging in self-care, and increased exercise.

Aptar’s study shows the biggest net increases in category need for these products focused on being COVID-19 safe – a product with anti-bacterial properties and tamper-proof packaging. Ensuing category needs for French customers feature sustainability in terms of product ingredients, packaging, and effectiveness. While for Chinese consumers, it was protection against pollution. Brazilian and US consumers were more price sensitive.

The hair care category evolved ‘very differently’ country by country. In the US and France, not much change was seen in consumption, despite a slight decrease in shampoo and hair colour kit use from French consumers. In China, the consumption of hair care increased, with 23% of consumers declaring using the category, whereas 43% of Brazilian consumers said they used it less often.

Eco-responsibility was the overwhelming purchase criteria in the hair care category at 55%, with consumers looking at sustainability issues, ease of use, efficiency, safety, and natural ingredients.

The body care category saw various needs with two main drivers. One was efficiency, combined with texture and fragrance. The second was product impact on health and wellbeing: safe packaging and products with ‘harmless’ ingredients.

Home care

In the home care category, consumers overwhelmingly maintain basic and traditional needs for multi-purpose cleaners (62%) and air fresheners (57%), according to Aptar’s study. This includes aspects such as efficiency, ease of use, and especially mess-free (does not require touching).

Although basic needs are important in home fragrances, this category has seen ‘eco-responsibility’ concerns pushed to the forefront with a focus on hygienic attributes – a safe and tamper-proof product that has anti-bacterial properties and that is easy to re-use or refill. This reflects new lifestyle habits that involve a new interest in keeping homes clean, healthy, and positive for mental and physical wellness.

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