Dawning of a new age in skincare

In Britain, women of all ages are spending more on skincare products in an effort to retain youthful looks, and age-defying creams have experienced the biggest growth

British consumers like to look good and are happy to spend an ever increasing amount of money on beauty and skincare products to keep up with the latest trends and products. But it is the the battle to retain youthful looks and complexions that is women’s major concern.

New data from TNS Care shows that the beauty and skincare market is now worth &£1.3bn and has experienced growth of nine per cent in the year to March 2004.

Skincare products still form the majority of sales within the beauty market, with &£804m spent on such products in Britain in the year to March 2004, compared to &£470m on cosmetics. Not surprisingly, women are the primary consumers of beauty products, and purchases by women constituted &£1bn of the total beauty market over the year.

The TNS Care report shows that there has been significant growth in areas such as facial wipes and moisturiser creams, and body lotions. British consumers have a growing desire to remain youthful and this has led to a 43 per cent increase in sales of anti-wrinkle creams and a 34 per cent increase in sales of firming creams in the past year.

Women in Britain spend, on average, &£21.31 a year on anti-ageing moisturiser products – almost double the amount spent on traditional moisturiser products each year. Sales of such products account for 13 per cent of the total skincare market, with Olay, L’Oréal Plenitude and Garnier Synergie being the top three brands.

Despite many women’s desire to look younger, women in Britain use the lowest amount of anti-ageing products within the five key European countries of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. By contrast, French women are four times as likely as British women, and twice as likely as Italian women, to use anti-ageing creams.

However, the British market is maturing, driven by the increased number of products on offer and marketing of anti-ageing creams in recent years. Since 2001, 167,000 women in Britain have started using these products weekly.

The TNS Care report shows that market growth has largely been driven by women aged 35- to 54-years-old and, increasingly, women are using so-called “age-defying” products at a younger age as a preventative measure rather than a cure. Indeed, women as young as 25 now use such creams about five times a week to delay the signs of ageing. This trend is mirrored across key European markets, particularly in France, with some 440,000 young French women (25 to 34) using age-defying creams.

Interestingly, there is wide variation in the use of anti-ageing products in France – ranging from 11 per cent of women aged 25- to 34-years-old, to a high of 28 per cent of 55- to 64-year-olds. In Britain, on the other hand, use of these products is relatively uniform across all age groups. This suggests that anti-ageing product marketing campaigns have been able target and appeal to women of all ages. In fact, anti-ageing creams are the only type of skincare product to have similar levels of usage among women aged 25- to 74-years-old.

Although the success of anti-ageing products in recent years should not be underestimated, the development of so many different types of “age-defying” products suggests that the market may have become overcrowded and confusing for some consumers.

While 2.6 million women use facial care products to “slow the signs of ageing”, just 809,000 women use a specific anti-ageing product. This suggests a significant opportunity exists for retailers and brands to target those consumers who have expressed a desire to use age-defying products, but who may not understand the differences between the vast array of skincare products on the market.

In order to capitalise on this opportunity, marketers should consider ways of creating age-defying product ranges that are more focused on specific age groups. This would mean that consumers can more easily select the product that is right for them.

The range of products on offer provides marketers with the opportunity to market sun protection factor (SPF) moisturisers for women in their 20s, anti-ageing prevention creams for women as they enter their late 30s, and treatment of fine lines for women in their 40s.

With the changing work and social lifestyles of women in their 20s and 30s, and the growing culture of late nights, smoking and binge drinking becoming more prevalent, women may begin to feel the effects of premature ageing at a younger age and will need to take greater care of their skin. This, again, provides opportunities for marketers and manufacturers to target age-defying products at this emerging consumer market.

Anti-ageing products are one of the major growth areas in the skincare market and offer great opportunities for manufacturers. Not only do anti-ageing products generate higher price sales than traditional skincare products, but they also appeal to women of all ages.

Women in Britain may be some way behind French ladies in their skincare regimes, but anti-ageing is a key area for expansion in this country. It is an excellent platform both for encouraging more older women to spend more on the skincare market and appealing to younger women who are wary of premature ageing.

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