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Marketing Required For Water-Efficient Products to Succeed in Beauty and Personal Care

As water scarcity increases across developing regions, manufacturers of rinse-off beauty and personal care (BPC) products will face challenges in these regions where most of the potential growth in sales in the future is expected. A key priority to gain competitive advantage in these regions is therefore to develop affordable alternative ingredients designed to be used in water-scarce conditions. This presents big opportunities for ingredients manufacturers and BPC companies in the medium to long term.

Water is a key ingredient accounting for 46%, on average, of BPC product formulations, with hair care and bath and shower products together accounting for around 70% of the total water added to BPC products. In 2015, the BPC industry consumed globally eight million tonnes of water and its use is forecast to rise at a CAGR of 3% to 2020, driven specifically by higher demand for BPC products which is forecast to increase at a CAGRs of 5% in Asia Pacific and 6% in the Middle East and Africa in the same period.

The BPC industry is still far from achieving the same degree of innovation that has taken place in the laundry care industry, where water-efficient products are reshaping the market in water-stressed countries such as China and India. To date, leading BPC companies have introduced non-rinse products such as dry shampoos, non-rinse hand and body washes and leave-in conditioners. However, some of these products are typically perceived as emergency products, to be used in between washes rather than as alternatives to traditional products. To overcome some of these barriers, a pioneering South African start up – Headboy Industries Inc – has developed and marketed DryBath Gel, the first non-alcohol based waterless body wash/shower gel substitute claiming to yield the same result as soap and water. Dry bath gel contains a blend of cleansers and moisturisers including bioflavonoids, natural emollients and fruit acids, to cleanse the skin.

Current solutions

Within the industry, there are companies such as Henkel, Kao Corp and Lubrizol which already market products claiming at reducing the amount of rinse water. Henkel provides Right Guard Muscle Relax and Fa Shower + Lotion with lower concentration of surfactants that need less rinse-off water while delivering the same cleaning performance. Kao Corp markets Merit shampoo in Japan which has a component with superior suds-dissolving ability that needs 20% less water than its predecessor. Lubrizol with its extensive understanding of speciality chemicals provides formulations such as Quick Rinse Amino Acid Body Wash containing amino acid surfactants such as Sulfochem™ ES-2CWK and Chembetaine™ CAD that allow the quick and easy rinse-off of lather, so less water is used to achieve clean skin.

Potential solutions

Other companies are looking beyond dry shampoos and leave-on products and are focussed on developing water-efficient products. Unilever launched the Sustainable Shower Sensations Challenge through its Open Innovation Platform aimed at providing novel ingredients and formulations with improved foaming ability that need less water to be rinsed off. However, innovation takes time and three years after L’Oréal announced in 2013 that the company was developing easy-rinse shampoo formulations that require one litre of water instead of the current average of seven, the product is still under development but the company is confident that it will find the right formulation.

In a market where consumers perceive foam as an indication of cleaning action, anionic surfactants with high foaming activity that require large volume of water to rinse are the most globally used, accounting for 90% of the global BPC market in volume, with anionic surfactants accounting for around 80% and 95% of the total surfactants in hair care and bath and shower products, respectively. However, amphoteric, cationic and non-ionic surfactants, with a capacity for producing less lather than anionic surfactants, are expected to see CAGRs of 8%, 8% and 10% in India and CAGRs of 5%, 2% and 3% in China, in the period 2014-2019, at the expense of anionic surfactants.

Going beyond formulation

Researchers at the University of Southampton believe that the secret of success in cutting the water footprint will ultimately rely on behavioural changes regarding how products are used. According to Dr. Baden, the principal researcher, “hairdressers have the ability to influence consumers’ awareness, attitudes and behaviours towards water efficient products and the way they use them, such as rinsing time, frequency, etc.” Results from this research could be successfully applied in water scarcity areas where access to water is limited, such as India, where demand for salon care products is expected to increase at a CAGR of 16% from 2015 to 2020.

Beauty and personal care companies need to emulate what laundry companies have done by developing water-efficient products specially designed for water-stressed countries. However, while it is important to create these products, unless consumers are trained and educated, the strategy will fall flat. Consumers face more psychological barriers to change personal habits and to try something brand new in their own body. Governments, companies and other bodies will play a crucial role in promoting behavioural changes and to overcome psychological and sociocultural barriers towards less water dependent products.

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