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Our loved ones: is the current crisis masking a change in peoples’ health and beauty choices?

3 min read

The Skin Health Alliance thinks it might be.  It has seen some subtle shifts in consumer behaviour and influences when it comes to their health and beauty needs. 

Firstly, from the outset of the pandemic, when governments were stressing the importance of thorough hand cleanliness and the use of sanitisers, people once again appeared to listen to the advice of experts.

“The narrative around hand cleanliness has become one of scientific fact rather than a marketing or media driven message.” says the Skin Health Alliance’s James Stalley.

“Most people are seeking hand products they believe work and in turn made them feel more secure, safer.  For some this meant sacrificing their usual desire for perceived ‘kinder’ natural products, opting instead for a scientifically proven efficacious alternative.”

But does this apparent change in priorities only apply to hand washing or is there a general shift across all health and beauty products taking place?

Proving change might be tricky but the Skin Health Alliance is in a unique position to track these apparent behavioural changes. In 2019 it commissioned design agency Bond & Coyne to undertake consumer research exploring personal preferences when choosing health and beauty products.  Part of this study took the form of a survey* which in April 2020, during lockdown, was repeated among the same group. The results have thrown up some interesting variations.

On both occasions consumers were asked what influences them most when purchasing a product.  Unsurprisingly the top 3 responses remain in order Price (2019 – 90%, 2020 – 88%), Brand Favourite (2019 – 48%, 2020 – 60%) and Family/friend Recommendation (2019 – 37%, 2020 – 44%). Whilst there were no changes in the ranking it is interesting to note the large jump in both Brand favourite and Family/friend influence numbers.  Could this leap be reflecting a need in the current climate to remain safe and secure? Are people seeking comfort from those brands on which we can rely and on the advice of people we trust?

Trust is a huge factor with the next ranking too.  In 2019 the 4th major influencing factor was products Environmentally and Sustainably produced (35%) followed in 5th place by Professionally recommended (23%).  2020 however has been a big shift.  Consumers seeking Professional recommendation (32%) has soared and now shares joint 4th place with Environmental and Sustainably produced (32%). This growth correlates to additional consumer data indicating a massive 96% of consumers would choose a product that has been independently assessed as safe by a medical professional.  It is worth noting however that although environmental and sustainable influences saw a slight drop, making ethical choices still matter to most.

Mike Bond from Bond and Coyne says:

“Consumer insight post-lockdown was revealing, with responses centring on reassurance, trust and expertise.”

“The research would appear to show consumers are opting for what they consider safe choices from trustworthy sources.  Some are reverting to established brands they feel they can rely on whilst others are taking brand advice from family and friends.”

“More consumers are also listening to qualified professionals whose guidance is based on sound science and evidence-based research.”

This last statement is also upheld by the Skin Health Alliance witnessing a growth in its professional services and providing impartial fact-based opinion and advice.

Whether these behavioural changes simply reflect the current mind set or the start of a more permanent steer in health and beauty habits only time will tell. Whatever the outcome the Skin Health Alliance will work with its professional experts and industry partners to adapt to these changes and continue to help consumers make informed choices about the products they use.



Notes to editors

* The 2019 SHA/B&C Consumers Survey and the 2020 SHA/B&C Consumers Survey was conducted among 503 consumers between the ages of 18 and 79.