BENGALURU: Consumers are putting off grooming routines, colouring their hair less often and giving up on deodorant and talcum powder, according to a survey. As more people started working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, households consumed 20% less hair colour and talcum powder, while use of deodorants dropped 59% in the June quarter. Depilatories (creams or lotions to remove unwanted hair) fell by 36%, consulting firm Kantar Worldpanel said. “As people stay at home, the need for grooming has declined,” said K Ramakrishnan, South Asia managing director of Kantar Worldpanel. The numbers do not, however, reflect out-of-home consumption. The sales decline for manufacturers of personal care products — especially skincare and hair colour — could be higher as beauty salons were shut due to the nationwide lockdown for most part of the April-June period. Men and women showed divergent consumption trends during the lockdown weeks, companies said. “Men seem to be a little bit more shabby at this time or willing to be shabby but women don’t want to sit around at home not looking sort of good,” said Nisaba Godrej, executive chairperson and managing director of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd, during an analysts’ call last week. Since most personal care products fell under the non-essential category during the initial weeks of the lockdown, companies were forced to shut manufacturing, restricting the supply chain of finished goods. There has however been a gradual improvement in demand for these products since Unlock 1.0. “The ability to reach consumers was limited. Marketplaces were not functioning. This led to decline in sales. Post-lockdown, demand has surged despite blips,” said Sumit Keshan, managing partner of Wipro Consumer Care-Ventures. In the next few months, growth should be back on track with lockdowns out of the way and as the festive season approaches, he added. Sales of Wipro’s own brand Yardley and Ustraa, in which it has invested, have declined by 70-80% since March, Keshan said. Marketers are pinning hopes on the revival of pricier personal care segments to predict the demand outlook going forward. In fact, Hindustan Unilever said during its earnings call last month that underlying demand of discretionary items such as beauty, skincare and hair colour will be a good test to assess recovery in the overall economy. “With no socialising, our make-up category has seen reduced consumption. Skincare was in deep negative in the early phase of the pandemic but is returning to normal now,” said Kavita Angre, director consumer and market insights and media, L’Oreal India. “About 85% of consumers did not change their hair care routine,” Angre added. Consumer goods maker Marico said during its earnings call recently that premium personal care portfolios of hair nourishment, male grooming and skincare recorded sharp declines due to the significant fall in sales of discretionary items. “While some green shoots are there in June, we will lie low and closely monitor these categories to our sharper near-term outlook and strategy,” Saugata Gupta, managing director of Marico told analysts.
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