Clean Label Attributes in Body Care: Claims and Ingredients Shoppers are Avoiding and Why

September 30, 2020
by David

The Growth of Clean Label in Body Care

Grocery shoppers have been moving toward clean label diets over the last several years. Rather than focusing on dietary preferences, shoppers have been reviewing product labels to find high quality, additive-free ingredients that they can pronounce. The clean skincare audience has begun to make that same shift, as shoppers apply the same attention to body care ingredients as they do with their diet

Clean label is a quickly growing segment of the body care market, causing brands to rethink what their product lineups look like and encouraging retailers to make more room on their shelves. Brands that understand the potential audience for a clean, naturally positioned product are winning in the battle for consumer dollars. Natural body care sales across all channels are up 16% over the past 52 weeks, while conventional products have grown at a more sluggish 2% over the same time period in combined natural enhanced and multioutlet channels. Encouragingly, natural body care is performing even better when looking only at multioutlet–up 19% compared to 2% for conventional products. 

Focus Areas for Clean Label Shoppers

Shoppers are scanning labels to ensure they are avoiding ingredients with reputations for negative effects on personal and environmental health. When hunting for clean labels, expect shoppers to focusing on 3 areas:

  1. Allergens, irritants, and ingredients that trigger sensitivities

  2. Environmentally harmful ingredients

  3. Carcinogens and other ingredients that can cause toxicity or build up within the body over time (bioaccumulation) 

Gluten-free products are a good example of how customers concerned about allergens and irritants are affect sales. Skincare items labeled gluten-free have risen 22%, while those not labeled have decreased 8%. Similarly, oral care items labeled gluten-free are up 61% compared to those not labeled decreasing 13%. Shoppers who have an allergy to these ingredients are looking for products they can trust won’t make them sick or cause an adverse reaction.   

What Body Care Ingredients Are Shoppers Avoiding?

But first, a vocabulary check…  

What is an Avoidance Attribute?

An avoidance attribute is a product characteristic or quality that a shopper is likely to AVOID due to perceived clean label concerns, health concerns, environmental concerns, allergies, or sensitivities.  

What is a Wellness Ingredient Attribute?

A wellness ingredient attribute is an ingredient that consumers SEEK out because they likely associate it with some degree of wellness or perceived health benefits.  

Aluminum Salts

Aluminum salts are often found under the “active ingredient” list on antiperspirants since they help reduce or eliminate odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of sweat. Although they are effective, shoppers are concerned that they are possibly carcinogenic, might be linked to organ system toxicity, and have been potentially associated with other health matters. 

Looking across natural enhanced, regional grocery, and multioutlet channels, products without aluminum salts are up 6% and those with them are down 4%. Across these channels, 98% of natural-positioned products do not contain aluminum salts and account for 87% of natural enhanced sales volume. 

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is water-soluble alcohol used as an additive in many personal care products for several purposes, acting as a preservative, emulsifier, moisture preserver, thickener and more. This is why you can find it in several products for hair coloring, hair styling, and oral hygiene. 

Some shoppers are wary of propylene glycol because it can be an allergen and irritant. It even has the distinction of being the American Contact Dermatitis Society’s 2018 Allergen of the Year. 

Looking across channels, products without propylene glycol are marginally outperforming those with it, growing 3.5% vs -0.1%, indicating that brands and retailers may have an opportunity to educate shoppers, differentiate product assortment, and help shoppers find products that are free from this common irritant/allergen. Products free of propylene glycol makeup 88% of naturally positioned products and are 74% of natural enhanced sales volume. 

The Importance of Attributes

The move toward more clean label products continues and will continue to grow, along with the list of popular and unpopular ingredients. That’s why SPINS recently added 19 new shopper-centric attributes to the body care department. Attributes are based on ingredient statements and nutrition fact panels, giving you direct insights into buying behavior. Split into 2 categories—Avoidance and Wellness Ingredient—SPINS’ body care attributes help you understand what is driving and motivating shoppers who are on the hunt for clean label products. 


Brands: Align with Retailer and Shopper Objectives

Innovative retailers and progressive shoppers agree; these body care attributes bring to life some of today’s most prominent purchase drivers and motivators across the health & wellness spectrum.   

In combination with market, region, and store level insights, SPINS Product Intelligence provides brands with a window into these otherwise unknown growth drivers. Which attributes are driving your category and subcategory growth? What’s the right pricing for your products to capture the full consumer value? What’s your target retailer’s assortment priorities? SPINS tools and growth support experts answer these questions for brands every day.   

If you’re a natural body care brand already making clean label products or are wondering if clean label is the right addition to your portfolio, you can learn more about the power or product intelligence or contact us to discuss how our proprietary attribute data, along with insights and strategic analysis, can help you make an informed decision.   

Retailers: Deliver Customized Shopper Experiences

As a SPINS exclusive retailer, you have access to all of the SPINS attributes, including the Avoidance and Wellness Ingredient attributes that you can use to deliver more customized shopper experiences through your digital and in-store channels. If you are not yet a SPINS exclusive retailer, you can gain more Information here or contact us today at: [email protected]