Three CPG Categories that are Impacted by Face Masks

Face masks are very important for fighting the pandemic, but they’ve also affected shopper behavior and have had a big impact on key CPG categories. It looks like we are going to be facing at least another few months of mandated masks in public, and brands are making strategic decisions about how to move forward with their lines. Some are leaning on separate categories that are really thriving in the pandemic, while others are innovating their products to be more competitive and appeal to shoppers in new ways.

 

COVID Breaks the “Lipstick Index”

The “lipstick index” is a term used in the cosmetics industry to explain a really interesting phenomenon in shopper behavior, which is that lipstick sales often grow when there is a downturn in the economy. Industry analysts explain that this happens because lipstick is a great pick-me-up purchase for women that is relatively inexpensive. They may not be in a position to splurge on a new dress, for example, but a tube of lipstick only costs a few dollars and can be purchased at any grocery or drug store.

Now that women are seeing fewer people and are always wearing face masks in public that cover their mouths, lipstick is a lot less relevant to their lives. According to a report from the market research firm Poshly, only 23% of beauty shoppers wore lipstick this summer, compared with 60% of beauty shoppers pre-pandemic.

However, many cosmetics brands are able to balance out these losses with gains in other areas. According to Kantar, eye makeup sales were up 204% year-over-year for the three-month period ending on June 28 as consumers altered their makeup routines to fit their new lifestyles. A lot of consumers are also still avoiding salons, meaning that many women are investing in nail polish and hair care products to treat themselves at home.

 

Gum and Mint Sales Drop as Consumers Stop Fearing Bad Breath

Mandated masks in public mean that consumers are also less concerned about always having fresh breath. “With the changes in consumer need states, COVID-19 has changed many of the key drivers of gum consumption including reduction in overall ‘on-the-go’ and fewer ‘in person’ interactions where freshness is needed,” explains Rachel Chambers, VP of Marketing for Mentos® owner Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc.

Mars Wrigley reported that 2019 was one of the best years for gum sales in a long time, only for several major companies to see sales plummet by as much as 20-30% in 2020. Additionally, masks are not the only pandemic factor adding to these sales losses. As meetings and other important interactions move online – along with a huge increase in online ordering, which allows customers to bypass impulse purchases at check-out – shoppers are just not thinking about their breath as much as they had prior to the pandemic.

One bright spot for confection brands is that other related categories have seen huge growth throughout lockdown. Baking, for example, has become a new favorite activity for many consumers, generating more interest in products like chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and cake mix.

 

Bottled Water Brands Have to Get Creative

Many shoppers stocked up on bottle water at the very beginning of the pandemic, but brands haven’t seen the same level of interest since. Consumers don’t have as much need for “on-the-go” products, and they wouldn’t be able to take a drink without removing their mask – something that isn’t safe or allowed in most indoor public places right now.  

However, this has helped push brands to get more innovative with their offerings in order to appeal to consumers. We’re now seeing water brands releasing new products with a wide range of added functional benefits, from sleep aids to boosts of energy. Now that simple convenience isn’t enough to win over shoppers, consumers are being given more choices in terms of how their water makes them feel.

In less than twelve months, face masks have had a huge impact on shopper behavior. This is demonstrating something that many brands have realized through this pandemic – that the brands with the most flexibility, ability to innovate, and diverse product ranges are in the best position to thrive in changing shopper landscapes.

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