Haircare sector lacks bounce

The haircare sector is a mature market, with brands fighting tooth and nail to build share; but trends vary a lot from country to country. Carol Fellowes is consumer director – personal care division at Taylor Nelson AGB

Research was carried out in five countries across Europe – Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – to assess use in three key areas of haircare: shampoo (2in1 and standard); conditioner (leave-in, intensives and standard); and styling/controlling (hairsprays, styling sprays, mousses, gels).

Looking at men and women, the number of use occasions is stable, with only shampoo showing signs of growth. This is fuelled by standard, rather than 2in1, products. Both conditioners and styling/controlling products are in decline over the six-month comparison of June 1995 versus 1996. What’s the story behind these top-line figures?

Shampoo is a mature market with general use penetration among men and women at about 80 to 90 per cent. Behind the scenes, fewer individuals are using 2in1 shampoos – penetration among women has fallen from 27 per cent to 26.6 per cent (12 months to December 1995, versus 12 months to June 1996) and among men from 22.2 per cent to 21.4 per cent. Countries where this drop is most noticeable are Germany and Spain. So, what else are people using? Evidence suggests that the European male is increasingly seeking the ultimate in convenience by stepping into the shower and washing hair and body with the alternatives to shampoo – soap and shower gel.

Standard shampoo has retained users over the past 18 months, with 63 per cent penetration among women and 61 per cent among men. The highest levels are in Germany, while the strongest growth is in Germany, Great Britain and Spain.

These trends at sector level have had an impact on overall brand performance. Wash & Go is finding it a challenge to hold onto users, given the underlying decline in 2in1 shampoos. Pantene and Organics (the new generation brands) are capturing new users and are seeing their brand shares increase accordingly – among both men and women, although there are more female users. European men continue to favour anti-dandruff shampoos, hence Head & Shoulders remains in the top five brands across these countries.

Great Britain is the only country showing growth in penetration levels for the haircare category among women; the biggest declines are in Spain and Germany. The reason? Far fewer women used standard or intensive conditioners in 1996 – preferring instead to opt for leave-in/no-rinse products. This is most evident among the young (17- to 24- year-olds) and the old (55-plus). Overall, the intensity of use remains unchanged – it’s simply that fewer women are including conditioner in their weekly haircare regime.

Men are also less interested in this category. However, those males who are using conditioner on a weekly basis tend to do so more often than their female counterparts – with an average of 3.2 times per week for men, and 2.5 times per week for women. With hairwashing intensity holding at 4.3 times per week for men and 2.5 times per week for women, it is clear that use of a conditioner doesn’t automatically follow shampoo.

Use penetration for the styling/ controlling category is down across all five countries researched, noticeably among young women (under 24- year-olds). There is a similar pattern for men – only in Great Britain has male use remained buoyant. This is not to say that people aren’t using styling products, just that the number of occasions during the week where gels, mousses and sprays are being used has slipped since 1995. It could be as a consequence of longer, more natural-looking hairstyles.

Generally, sprays are outperforming mousse and gel formulations, which means brands such as Elnett are gaining (female) users, while the likes of Studio and Shockwaves operate from a smaller user base than last year. Newer players such as Pantene are slowly gaining credibility with consumers, although achieving customer commitment to the same brand of shampoo, conditioner and styling remains the ultimate challenge.

To date, only 16 per cent of all haircare users (in a week) actually shampoo, condition and style at all – never mind with the same brand.

European toiletries & cosmetics database (ETCD) haircare across Europe

The Taylor Nelson AGB ETCD measures consumer use of toiletries and cosmetics in five countries – Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – over time. ETCD is based on data produced by 1,000 women and 400 men in each country, completing a diary over seven days recording the products they use. After six months, they are asked to repeat the exercise. Data is released on a rolling quarterly basis (March/June/September/ December). Three measures of use are produced, all based on an average week during the period being reported on. The three measures are: use occasions – total number of times used; penetration – how many people use; intensity – frequency of use.

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