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The Coronavirus’ Effect on the Consumer Products & Services Industry, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The Coronavirus pandemic had a sweeping effect on the consumer products and related industries, from loss of traffic at beauty salons, barber shops and retail outlets, to a massive boost to sales of cleansers and sanitizing products.  Shelter-at-home orders vastly changed the way people live and work, and many of those changes will linger, or become permanent.
During the lockdown, foot traffic at many cosmetic, hair and personal services providers ground to a halt.  People were not going out to get their hair cut or colored, nor were they getting nail services, massages and other spa services.  Many people were not wearing or using cosmetics, or at least cutting back on them significantly.  Brick and mortar salons were closed for weeks and often months.
On the converse side, at-home consumer products saw an uptick during this period.  At-home hair color business Madison Reed saw its sales soar as did cosmetic retailer Sephora’s online sales.  Meanwhile, packaged consumer goods such as toilet paper, soap and household cleaners rapidly sold out at businesses that remained open (grocery and drug stores as well as big box retailers such as Walmart, Costco and Target).  Online sales of these items also skyrocketed for home delivery.  It must be noted, however, that commercial demand for these items in public spaces, such as office buildings, bars and restaurants, plummeted.
By mid-2020, personal services businesses began to slowly reopen in many cities, following strict safety and cleanliness protocols.  In-store cosmetic or fragrance tester stations became things of the past, which greatly altered business models for stores such as Ulta and Sephora.  Some stores have trained employees to dab products on themselves for socially distanced customers to see from six feet away.  Other businesses are investing in digital and online tools that mimic trying-on products using selfies uploaded to company web sites.  In some cases, this resulted in heavy use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and other advanced technologies, in order to create the types of customer experiences that can build brand loyalty and lead to continued sales.
Another shift in consumer products is a reduction in variety.  Many manufacturers are focusing on their best sellers and discontinuing some items that are less popular, thereby streamlining production and supply chains, and enabling them to meet soaring demand at outlets such as supermarkets and discount department stores.

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