Affordability, benefits give lotions a leg up

A slightly improving economy, a growing consumer base and new formulations that offer value-added benefits are likely helping to fuel sales of hand and body products.

"Inspiring further growth in the category will require enhanced product innovation. This could come from emphasizing product efficacy, increasing a focus on men's products, as well as through positioning offerings that encourage consumers to purchase products for specific uses," Mintel Group stated in its 2012 report on U.S. body care. "Mainstream brands should find that the time is ripe for promotion of functional product benefits, such as those related to anti-aging. Above all, in the short term, keeping prices at affordable/accessible levels will be key to resonating with consumers."

According to data provided by IRI, sales of hand and body lotion rose more than 5% to about $1.74 billion for the 52 weeks ended April 21 at total U.S. multi-outlets.

The category is dominated by female users and, according to Mintel's custom consumer research, 97% of women use hand lotion and 96% use body lotion, compared with 80% and 66% among men, respectively. What is important to note is that the female population is set to grow by 4.9% by 2016, according to Mintel, citing U.S. Census Bureau data, with the largest gains among older women.

"Manufacturers and marketers of body care products will need to keep these population trends in mind in years to come. Older women should be well represented in product ads, and product manufacturers should be sure to formulate offerings that cater to the specific needs of these consumers, including anti-aging creams and blemish balms that help tone down the appearance of age spots," Mintel stated.

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