The home hair colourants category was one of the best-performing BPC categories in 2020, with an estimated 9.5% growth in value to £334 million. However, overall usage levels remained broadly flat as 38% of adults have used home hair colourants in the last year, compared to 36% in 2019, meaning growth was driven by increased usage frequencies and premiumisation as consumers turned to higher-value products in place of professional salon services and treatments. Ongoing restrictions and another national lockdown in early 2021 will see these trends continue.

Alongside the boost in value sales, COVID-19 saw the online channel gain importance in the home hair colourants category during 2020. To capture the new reliance on DIY hair colouring amid salon closure, brands ramped up their online capabilities, with investment fuelled into AR technology, digital consultation services and online tutorials.

The biggest threat facing home hair colourant brands is the imminent return to salons as the rollout of a vaccine and easing of social distancing restrictions will rebuild demand for professional colour services in the long term, meaning it will be challenging for brands to retain the demand for home hair colourants seen during 2020.

However, there are opportunities to offset this with premiumisation in NPD in products that can be customised to the user’s individual needs, making DIY colourants a more compelling alternative to professional treatments. Meanwhile, more convenient, multifunctional products that blur the line between hair colouring and other haircare and styling categories can be used to drive usage frequencies.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on at-home hair colourants

  • New product development and innovation opportunities

  • Usage and purchase of at-home hair colourants during the last 12 months

  • At-home hair colourant research and purchase behaviours during the last 12 months

  • Opportunities for premiumisation in at-home hair colourants.

Products covered in this Report

This Report examines the UK hair colourants market. For the purposes of the Report, Mintel has used the following to define the hair colourants market:

  • Permanents (do not wash out of hair)

  • Semi-permanent (last between six and eight washes)

  • Temporary colourants

  • Tone on tone hair colour (including restorers and removers).

The following are excluded from the market size but may be discussed elsewhere in the Report:

  • Colour-enhancing shampoos (also known as colour glazes)

  • Hair cosmetics (eg hair mascara).

COVID-19: market context

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January 2020, with a small number of cases in February. As the case level rose, the government ordered the closure of non-essential stores on 20 March. 

A wider lockdown requiring people to stay at home except for essential shopping, exercise and work ‘if absolutely necessary’ followed on 23 March. It wasnt until 15 June that non-essential stores were allowed to reopen, followed by pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers on 4 July, and many beauty businesses on 13 July.

By September, it had become clear that the UK was at the start of a second wave, and social distancing measures were intensified. Continued increases in infection numbers led to Wales implementing a two-week national lockdown from 19 October, England announcing a full month-long lockdown from 5 November, and Scotland introducing a new five-level system of coronavirus restrictions. 

Despite these restrictions, however, case numbers continued to increase, and after a brief relaxation for Christmas Day, a full national lockdown was announced on the evening of 4 January. There is no defined end date for the lockdown: the legislation presented to Parliament extends to 31 March, but Boris Johnson has said that he hopes that schools will be able to reopen after February half-term.

The UK’s vaccination programme started on 8 December, and with both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZenica vaccines licensed for use in the UK, the government aims to offer a vaccine to 15 million people by mid-February.

The impact of the January lockdown and the vaccination rollout

Much of this Report was prepared in December 2020, before the announcement of the January lockdown, and when the extent of the vaccine rollout was less clear. However, the content was reassessed and, where necessary, adjusted on 14 January, in order to ensure that our analysis and our forecast expectations still hold true.

Our core assumptions on the path of the pandemic had always included an expectation of severe disruption to markets and consumers’ lifestyles well into 2021, with a strong likelihood that the virus would still be with us even into 2022. Although the second wave of infections and subsequent lockdown puts us towards the negative end of our initial expectations, these developments are still broadly consistent with our previous assumptions.

Similarly, Mintel had factored in the likelihood that an effective vaccine would be available from early- to mid-2021. The licensing of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZenica vaccines puts us slightly ahead of that assumption, but the challenge associated with rolling out a new vaccination programme to millions of people means that our previous assumptions are still broadly consistent with the new reality.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its November 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. The scenario suggests that UK GDP will have fallen by 11.3% in 2020, recovering by 5.5% in 2021, and 6.6% in 2022. GDP isn’t expected to return to pre-COVID levels until the fourth quarter of 2022. The central scenario has unemployment peaking at 7.5% in Q2 2021.

The current uncertainty means that there is wide variation on the range of forecasts, however, and this is reflected in the OBR’s own scenarios. In its upside scenario, economic activity returns to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q4 2021. Its more negative scenario, by contrast, would mean that GDP doesn’t recover until Q3 2024.

The second wave of infections and subsequent lockdown means that the short-term prospects for the country are consistent with the OBR’s negative scenario, but this needs to be balanced against the fact that the vaccine rollout is ahead of even the OBR’s central scenario. Medium to long term, then, we are still basing our forecasts and market analysis on the OBR’s central economic scenario.

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