As a result of restricted retail channels and reduced employee numbers due to COVID-19, many personal care suppliers are streamlining operations and attempting to control costs as volumes drop.
So says Sarah Bradley, MD at Kerfoot Group, a supplier of natural and organic oils, essential oils and waxes for the personal care products sector in the UK. She continues: “Many brands are temporarily condensing their product portfolios to focus on their core offering. In our part of the ingredients supply chain, we are seeing consolidation of base products and oils to ensure consistent supply in a volatile and often challenging market.
“There has been a great deal of change across the personal care sector in a very short space of time, quite unlike anything we’ve seen before. However, this could turn out to be a benefit to the industry. The increasing need to diversify, as well as a rise in personalisation, has seen a growing challenge of SKU (Stock-Keeping Unit) proliferation, with resources and brand identity alike being spread thin. The revised product cycles that we’re seeing impact the personal care market could actually be just what many businesses need, to refocus on what makes them stand out in a busy and competitive market.”
Simon Corner, sales and marketing director at Kerfoot, adds: “The ‘back to basics’ approach that is sweeping across many personal care brands has dramatically reduced the amount of new product development across the market, other than in the preventative categories and personal hygiene. I think many businesses understand that the cycles will likely restart once we regain a sense of normality, but for now brands are returning to their ‘bread and butter’ products.”
He notes that it’s becoming clear that the key driver for brands in this difficult time is retaining market share as operations and logistics become more challenging. From smaller artisanal operations to the brand giants, the need for consistent, solid supply of ingredients is taking the top priority.
Corner concludes: “It’s becoming a question of proximity and consistency. Branded products need to be readily available at all times to adapt to ‘the new normal’ as far as shopping habits are concerned, whether that be in store or online as shoppers seek beauty products at home. We’ve been able to use our global stockholding and expertise to keep our customers moving forward, and that’s paying real dividends for our partners in the personal care sector – and the consumer – as we move further into the ongoing pandemic.”