When news of COVID-19 started spreading across the globe, and the magnitude of its impact on the world as we know it began to sink in, consumers and business owners alike collectively mourned the loss of a life they once knew. While some companies were, and are, overcome with grief at the harsh financial and business challenges brought about by the GVC, there are also those that have reacted fast – continuing full speed with pre-planned and fresh product launches. Turning the pandemic on its head, many are capitalizing on the new and lucrative opportunities provided by a sudden change in consumer habits and spending trends.
Last week we learned that while Unilever reported its first sales drop for 14 years, owing to the impact of the coronavirus, it was actually a softer fall than analyst predictions due to its swift action in ramping up production of products seeing a spike in demand, and relaunching heritage brands in bygone regions. Adding its Lifebuoy soap brand to 50 new markets and upping manufacturing by 600 percent, the personal care giant attributed its hygiene products – and ice cream, as it seems we’re collectively drowning our sorrows in it – to the relatively minimal blow COVID had on its financial results. In fact, 85 percent of its turnover was said to have felt no impact whatsoever. Astounding statistics when you see how some other companies have fared.
Indeed, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that hygiene has clearly been a hot product category within which to diversify during the pandemic, and there’s a slew of brands jumping on the movement. Unilever-owned Dermalogica has launched a new line of products aimed at promoting safety in salons, with the items designed to promote good hygiene to face and body. And we have to hand the innovation gold star to Lush and its self-timing soap. Launched in conjunction with Deliveroo UAE, the soap is designed to dissolve after 30 seconds and aims to influence “their hand cleansing rituals in the future.”
More recently, Shiseido announced it was to market hand sanitizer to the general public as of this month. The beauty giant has been supplying hospitals since the beginning of the outbreak, and will now offer the 500 ml medical grade products for general consumption, as well as refill packs so pumps can be re-used.
Asia too was continuing its launch activity apace during COVID-19. According to the Strait Times, Zyu Skincare, a clean range has been brought to market, as well as PSA Skin and Jung Beauty. And while all the brands have been in the making pre-COVID times, we all know that skin care is the category to be in as consumers wear less make-up and masks become mandatory, with consumers battling the dreaded ‘maskne’ due to said enforced face cover-ups. Rihanna was heating up the U.S. skin care category, having launched the long-awaited Fenty Skin range just when the world needs it most. Hitting the market at the end of last month, the range includes GVC shopper essentials: a cleanser, moisturizer and serum.
The music star wasn’t the only U.S. favourite dropping lines during lockdown. Indeed, the suncare category was also a hotbed of new products; Kylie Jenner entered the category for the first time with the launch of the first Kylie Skin face sunscreen, while Venus Williams teamed up with Credo Beauty on a mineral sunscreen collection.
And lest we forget the rise and rise of digital activity during lockdown. If there’s one thing that the last few months have taught us, it’s that online is now even more of an imperative part of any brand marketing strategy than pre-COVID times. And it seems the industry is listening. Givenchy has pounced on this upsurge in time spent online, having become the first luxury brand to launch make-up looks on the popular Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. While no one could have predicted the ongoing interconnectivity between the gaming world and beauty, it’s an area unquestionably set for accelerated growth with the digitally obsessed Gen Z gang. And where Givenchy goes, others will surely follow.
It’s clear that there are defined categories of coronavirus success; digital, suncare, skincare and hygiene all being commerce areas that are clear consumer favourites in a pandemic world. And with the level of industriousness witnessed in the first six months of the current health crisis, the question remains, just what will they think of next?