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Markets & trends

On-the-go skincare formats make a splash with US women

In a saturated beauty market, skincare brands bet on consumers’ focus on health and wellness and invent new on-the-go formats. According to Mintel’s new research, these innovative formats are among those US women are the most interested in. Overall, value remains a top priority for US women who want to get the maximum from their skincare purchases and favour natural ingredients as well as probiotics in multifunctional items.

The skincare market is highly saturated and brands are challenged by (...)

The skincare market is highly saturated and brands are challenged by consumer demand for simplicity. Focusing on unique offerings to capture the attention of consumers, such as Korean skincare trends and on-the-go formats, could nurture category growth. - Photo: © Kite Rin /

Whether throwing it in a gym bag or using during the commute, travel-friendly skincare formats are making a splash with US women, reveals Mintel. According to one the firm’s latest research [1], the skincare formats that US female skincare users are most likely to have tried or are interested in trying include on-the-go products, such as exfoliating wipes (81 percent), waterless facial cleansers (69 percent) and sunscreen sticks (68 percent).

As value remains a top priority when it comes to skincare routines, consumers are willing to pay more for products that give them the best bang for their buck. Three in 10 female skincare users are willing to pay more for products with built-in applicators, dual packaging, i.e. contains multiple products (30 percent) or that are refillable (29 percent).

Consumer focus on health and wellness is inspiring a burgeoning trend in beauty with innovative, on-the-go formats. In addition to wanting skincare that satisfies their specific needs, convenience enables skincare consumers to streamline their routines, a benefit they are willing to spend for. Brands that offer quick and easy-to-use formats that make the most out of beauty routines while traveling, such as waterless facial cleansers and portable sunscreen sticks, will do well with consumers as they seek out more convenient products,” said Alison Gaither, Beauty and Personal Care Analyst at Mintel.

Furthermore, as the line between facial makeup and facial skincare blurs and skincare staples address multiple concerns, specialty skincare products are being put back on the shelves. Mintel research [2] shows that sales of facial anti-aging products (16 percent market share) are estimated to decline 3 percent in 2017 to reach US $1.8 billion, while acne treatments (8 percent market share) are estimated to decline 1.5 percent to reach US $9.1 million.

Simple and natural products

While demanding high value multifunctional products, US women also favour the most simple and easy-to-use products. According to Mintel, “when it comes to purchasing skincare products, back to basics is best as simple usage instructions (58 percent) and short ingredient lists (53 percent) rank as the most important packaging features for female skincare users.” This is especially true among older women as those aged 55+ are more likely than their younger counterparts to prioritize simple usage instructions (66 percent vs 46 percent of 18-34s) and short ingredient lists (58 percent vs 49 percent of 18-34s).

Formulating skincare products with natural ingredients is also a good way to help them standing out from the mass. For instance, more than two in five skincare users are interested in skincare products that contain clay (42 percent) or apple cider vinegar (41 percent). “The familiarity of food-based ingredients in skincare is appealing to consumers who want to understand what exactly is in the products they use,” continued Gaither.

Mintel also noted a growing interest for the skincare benefits of probiotics (38 percent of female skincare consumers). This interest is reflected in new product development in recent years, as the use of the probiotic Lactobacillus in skincare products in the US grew 98 percent from 2013-17.

The skincare market is highly saturated, and brands are challenged by consumer demand for simplicity, as well as routine shopping behaviour which is limiting product trial. Focusing on unique offerings to capture the attention of consumers, such as Korean skincare trends and on-the-go formats, could nurture category growth. Eco-ethical claims will also continue to rise, and familiar, food-inspired ingredients such as apple cider vinegar and Manuka honey will support the natural trend. The movement to embrace aging will continue to give multi-benefit products an advantage over specialty products, while no-rinse options, such as micellar waters, will encourage consumers to use a larger repertoire of cleansing products, further boosting segment growth,” concluded Gaither.

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