Written by on . Pegasus.

Beauty consumers: redefining values during the Covid-19 pandemic

Grace Sear explores how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our health and beauty shopping habits.

As a nation, we’re still learning to cope with life during unprecedented times. Our behaviours and attitudes are constantly evolving while we endeavour to adapt to what everyone refers to as ‘the new normal’ and for the healthy beauty industry, it is clear that the pandemic presents new challenges and opportunities.

Data from Mintel’s report, ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on BPC’, (beauty and personal care) shows that the beauty market is set to see significant value decline in 2020 largely due to limited retail sales but also a shift in beauty priorities. For example, consumers have shifted spend from sectors that are impacted by staying-at-home measures (such as colour cosmetics and fragrances), and have instead been indulging in products that focus more on health benefits, which offer a greater focus on self-care and mental wellbeing.

This would indicate that Brits are actually engaging in a phenomenon, which has been identified by economists, as ‘The Lipstick Effect’, which posits that there is in fact some growth within some sectors of the beauty industry in times of economic crisis because consumers seek comfort in small indulgences during uncertain times.

This summer, Pegasus conducted an extensive survey with 1,000 UK adults, which explored shifts in consumer behaviour during the pandemic. We found that around one in five adults’ stress (19%) and anxiety (22%) levels had become worse during lockdown. At the same time, in general, 28 per cent of adults started using face masks/face treatments during the pandemic. We can therefore determine that consumers are perhaps using more of these ‘feel good’ beauty treatments as part of their at-home, self-care regime due to the emotional lift they provide. This also aligns with Mintel insights, which identify ‘wellbeing’ as a growing trend, exploring how consumers are taking a holistic approach to their mental and physical wellbeing.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen that women, especially mums, have changed their priorities, as they’re spending less on certain types of beauty products (such as fake tan and make-up) and almost one in three (31 per cent) claim that their appearance has been of a lower priority since the outbreak, according to Mintel.

We observed similar themes within our in-house survey, with just over a third (34 per cent) of the sample indicating that they’ve been wearing less make-up during lockdown, while 12 per cent say that they will spend less on cosmetics post lockdown. These shifts in perspective are therefore forcing consumers to redefine their values; hence why brands are using this time to alter the tone of their communication from aesthetics to self-care, which will resonate more with their target audience.

Overall, it’s clear that these evolving consumer viewpoints and values are causing the beauty world to shift. New ways of living are creating a demand for solutions that focus on the psychological and emotional benefits of beauty and skincare, extending beyond simply what’s on the surface. 

is an experienced research professional on the Digital Strategy & Insights team at Pegasus. She has over 4 years’ experience of designing and commissioning quantitative and qualitative research projects for clients across all SCTs