Tracking the impact of Covid-19 on the hair & beauty industry

Last week, we looked at the consumer insights and a three-phase communications framework for the food and drink industry. This week, we’re shifting focus to the hair and beauty industry, one a little too close to home as my natural hair colour makes an appearance for the first time in over 20 years.

Watch this short video for a summary of consumer habits and behaviour during Covid-19, and advice on how to tailor the three-phase communications framework for your brand.

Video transcript

Hi and welcome to the second instalment of our consumer insights, where this week we’re looking at the hair and beauty industry. Like I did for the food and drink industry, I’ll be quickly running through the top consumer insights and a three stage framework for structuring your customer communications now, and in our new normal.

This week, our UK government’s switched the Stay at home campaign to Stay Alert and we are starting our slow exit from lockdown, albeit under heavy restriction still. Current thinking is that hair and beauty salons will be some of the last places to open, with July being noted as the earliest opportunity. For me that has certainly been a big challenge for lockdown so I am glad I only have to record audio for this!

So looking at the top insights for hair and beauty, we’ll start with changing purchasing habits. As nationwide lockdown was enforced many retailers closed their doors and those that remain open have prioritised essential items such as soap and hand sanitiser. This inevitably saw an increase in hair and beauty products being purchased online, with items such as hair dye, colourful make up pallets, self tan products and nail polish seeing huge increases in sales. The CEO of Walmart famously described us entering a phase of panic buying hair dye in April.

On the flip side, for some, hair and beauty has taken a back seat as consumers are socialising and working from home.

Online, hair care has been a hot topic with 1 in 4 posts globally talking about it. The ‘quarantine haircut’ is trending, as is the trend to change hair colour and share before and after pictures on social media.

There are some interesting links with mental health and wellness being reported, with many women doing their hair and make up to make themselves feel better. The impact of working and socialising from home has resulted in increased pressure to be ‘camera ready’ too. As we reported last week with the food and drink industry, we are in a time where many consumers are reporting feelings of anxiety, looking for pick me ups and needing positivity from brands.

So looking to the future, what does the consumer look like beyond Covid-19? As I mentioned last week, we don’t know yet. What we do know is that there will be a rush to get back to the hair and beauty salon.

Sales of products such as hair and skincare expect to remain as before, however, the spike we’ve seen in soaps, sanitisers and nail varnish is expected to drop. As consumers have reappraised their values and purchasing habits during lockdown, they are expected to value authenticity and the environment as much, if not more than, price. The link between hair and beauty and wellness and self care is expected to remain important to consumers.

So what can you do with this insight and what is the best way to structure your comms?

The table in front of you illustrates our three-phased approach which is to focus on what we call Respond, Relieve and Rebuild. These phases allow us to structure communications based on consumer behaviours and their mindset, helping us hit the right message, tone and format of communication.

The respond phases is to show care and concern for your consumers who are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. There have been some movements in the beauty industry that have generated a positive response, for example L’Oreal’s Solidarity Plan where they pledged 1 million euros to associations and promised to ramp up production of sanitising gel to address shortages.

We are now slowly starting to exit our lockdown period, with some countries already ahead of us in the UK. However, we’re still under huge restrictions and in very uncertain times so it is important to focus on phase two, Relieve, right now. The role of the brand here is to provide relief for consumer challenges, to motivate and inspire the consumer to get through this challenging period. Now is the time to be positive and engage in a way that helps consumers feel supported and more optimistic about the future. For the hair and beauty industry this could be an opportunity to focus communications on empowering consumers, making them feel confident, trying new routines and boosting their mental health.

Finally, the last phase is Rebuild. Currently, global expectation from consumers is that it may take up to a year for things to go back to normal – and a new normal at that. One thing we are certain of is that it will be a new normal, not a return to pre-Covid lives. Preparing for the rebuild phase requires consideration and careful tracking of consumer behaviour and emotion to make sure that when the time is right you can respond with speed and agility. Insights suggest there is an opportunity to align with a consumers renewed values around self care and wellness and also make any new routines or rituals from lockdown a more permanent fixture in their lives.

Thank you for listening and I hope you’ve found this summary helpful. As always, if you’d like to know more about our sources or discuss any communications challenges you might have, drop us a line. Thank you.