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Outlook 2023: Market Experts On Importance Of Value, Mental Health In A ‘World On Fire’

Executive Summary

Competitive value propositions are a must in 2023 to win guarded consumers’ business. Companies that effectively address mental health and wellbeing needs and appeal to consumers through sustainability initiatives could have an edge in the recessionary environment, experts suggest. Meanwhile, there are concerns about small cosmetics companies and the availability of resources to help them comply with "modernized" federal regulations.

HBW Insight asked leading consultancies, PR firms and other market experts about their expectations and advice for consumer health, wellness and beauty companies in 2023. Here’s how they responded to our prompt.

"2023 will be the year of..."

Stuart Mayell

Stuart Mayell

Head of the Creative Difference, The Difference Collective


The world is on fire, countries are at war, recession is a certainty, trust in authority is cratering and the NHS is in crisis. With everything spinning out of control, we predict increasing health self-reliance.

People sat passively indoors to ‘do our bit’ in the pandemic; now we crave control. Growth will come wherever the individual can buy peace of mind. Pharmacy comes good when GPs can’t cope. Personal data will be pored over for reassurance. Self-medication with CBD, lion’s mane fungus or similar alternatives will be chased by those grasping the reins of their lives, while direct-to-consumer can empower millions of patients ‘lost’ to healthcare systems in the last two years.

Whatever you do, make sure your customers and consumers get to feel in charge.

Listen to more from Mayell on consumer health trends on HBW Insight's "Over the Counter" podcast.

Matt Carpenter

Matt Carpenter

Analytics Insight Manager, Health, Beauty, Personal Care & Home, NielsenIQ

...value-led proactive health.

During the pandemic there was a greater focus on physical and mental wellbeing which has not gone away despite the cost-of-living crisis. Consequently, Health is considered more insulated as a category to cost pressures that are facing consumers. This situation is compounded with the pressures that the NHS are dealing with at present, driven by high cases of Covid and Flu circulating the population, along with ongoing pay disputes that are likely to impact service levels as we progress in 2023. Therefore, looking after yourself is going to be even more important to prevent a situation where you may need hospital care. We can therefore expect sales of Pain Relief, Respiratory and Vitamins to continue to grow strongly as experienced during the current Winter period. To achieve this there will be a greater focus on value such as purchasing more on promotion or trading down to Private Label.

Check out NielsenIQ's data on the UK OTC analgesics category, which is facing the multiple pressures Carpenter describes.

Mike Hughes

Mike Hughes

Head of Research and Insight, FMCG Gurus

...trade-off between health and wealth.

As the implications of the cost-of-living crisis become more apparent over the next twelve months, consumers will be driven to make difficult decisions about what they prioritize when purchasing products. While maintaining health and wellness will remain a key goal for people throughout the year, there will be an acceptance that greater scrutiny will be placed on what products are genuinely essential for facilitating this and what products offer maximum value for money. The key for the industry will be transparency and providing reassurance about the efficacy of products. The high levels of uncertainty brought about by a recessionary environment mean that mental health will be a key issue that consumers look to address over the next twelve months, with poor sleep, hygiene and anxiety being problems faced by many.

Read Hughes’ thoughts on how industry can help consumers self-care.

Dr. Volker Schehlmann

Managing Director, analyze & realize GmbH

...the year to demonstrate resilience – meaning that the pressure on insufficiently differentiated value propositions will increase in consumer healthcare.

Innovation and faster adaptation to trends are going to be key success factors as consumers continue to shift towards digital channels and search for more trustworthy products. Trust is built on efficacy, safety, sustainability, quality, and regulatory compliance. These values are not to be compromised in times of economic constraints.

As a trend, proof of efficacy will more and more be achieved by combining products – OTC or supplements – with health monitoring devices and consumers sharing their experiences in their communities.

Safety and sustainability are typically translated in consumers’ minds into ‘natural’ and ‘locally sourced.’ Hence, we expect that the natural healthcare market with its use of botanicals will continue to thrive.

Read Schehlmann’s views on EU novel food innovation in 2023.

Luca Bucchini

Luca Bucchini

Managing Director, Hylobates Consulting Srl

...green regulation for foods.

Despite valid concerns over food security and inflation, sustainability and climate change are growing priorities for consumers across the globe, including when they choose food, sports nutrition products and dietary supplements. This trend seems irreversible, given the underlying phenomena and how younger consumers feel passionately about the environment.

In 2021, we saw a lot of hypotheticals in this space, at least for the supplement industry. In 2022, many supplement businesses started to bring sustainability concerns – and solutions – to their organizations and to the marketplace. Meanwhile, the EU has been discussing rules on sustainability – including those applicable to food and supplements.

2023 will see a new rulebook emerge for European consumers, and for all businesses doing business directly or indirectly with the EU, from suppliers to advertisers, with a global impact.

Read about considerations made by European consumers when buying supplements.

Helen Fitzhugh

Helen Fitzhugh

Associate Director, Kaizo

...the year we put mental health first.

Kaizo recently re-ran our consumer survey from the beginning of the pandemic exploring how the public access and prioritize health information. The standout finding this winter was the current importance of mental health – ranked as people’s number one worry over Covid-19, common colds, or flu.

In an increasingly anxious world, where consumers face pressures such as spiraling cost of living, brands would be wise to be mindful of this environment and people’s everyday concerns. Try not to feed public anxiety and stay aware of the impact your messaging could have on mental wellbeing. For example, the potential unintended consequences of using out-of-touch and unrelatable influencers.

With mental health topping the agenda, there will also likely be new openings for brands – consider emphasizing the link between physical and mental wellbeing, incorporating wellness tips in marketing, partnering with mental health charities, and prioritizing products which will help stressed consumers.

Read about how the UK is encouraging digital mental health innovation.

Pauline Kent

Pauline Kent

Managing Director, Satellite PR

...savvy spending.

We all know it’s ‘cold out there,’ and that’s not just the weather. Soaring inflation and increased energy prices means that consumers will not only have less to spend but will rethink how they spend, and brands need to step up to help consumers with the cost-of-living crisis. I think we’re about to see a revolution in the pre-loved market with the smartest brands encouraging consumers to buy second hand wherever they can. It’s a different mindset for everyone and one we should all embrace. I also think there’s an opportunity to support the NHS through preventative campaigns that go beyond healthy eating and exercise. We’re talking good oral hygiene and the connection between asthma and allergy. I think 2023 will open up opportunities to demonstrate caring brand credentials, and we will witness a more empowered consumer as a result.

Read more about how inflation is affecting health consumers.

Dr Austen El Osta

Dr. Austen El-Osta

Director of Self-Care Academic Research Unit (SCARU), Imperial College London School of Public Health

...Self-Driven Healthcare.

The pervasive use of digital and smartphone technologies has impacted every aspect of our life, including how we may self-care now and in the future. Self-Driven Healthcare (SDH) is an umbrella term introduced by Innovate UK to conceptualize aspects of healthcare delivery that can support people in becoming more engaged in their own health and wellbeing management rather than being passive receivers of healthcare. The defining characteristics of SDH include activities that empower people to self-care using technology, including those activities concerned with primary prevention and health promotion (e.g., detecting diseases earlier and proactively collaborating with a growing range of healthcare professionals to manage their illnesses). The UK is a significant exporter of a world-leading knowledge economy, and the development of SDH presents a key opportunity for the UK to build and grow companies with a large international market share. Keep an eye out for our Self-Driven Healthcare & Society 5.0 Insights Report earmarked for publication on International Self-Care Day (24 July 2023).

Find out more about El-Osta's self-care research at SCARU.

Debbie Waite

Debbie Waite

co-CEO, Steinberg and Associates

...Registration and Substantiation.

With the signing by President Biden of the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 ("MOCRA") on December 29, 2022, 2023 immediately became the ‘year of registration and substantiation.’ After briefly reviewing MOCRA, we feel that small to medium cosmetic companies will be most affected and are least likely to know what is now expected of them. Here are the top three concerns: 1) facility registrations – while they may not have to do it, they’ve got to ensure their manufacturer did register their facility(ies); 2) register all their products; 3) establish and maintain safety substantiation records – this is raising the bar as many small companies have relied primarily on raw material supplier data and HRIPT testing. While we stand at the ready to assist these companies, we are also concerned for them. This is a huge undertaking, and the time is short (one year).

Read more about how small and medium-sized personal-care companies are working to ensure compliance and avoid risks in an increasingly regulated and litigious environment.

John Bailey

John Bailey

Independent Advisor for Colors and Cosmetics, EAS Consulting Group

...anxious uncertainty arising from the new legislation passed to ‘modernize’ the regulation of cosmetics in the US.

The new law expands cosmetics requirements from 2 pages in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to more than 30 and injects new, and often far-reaching, requirements (and burdens) on the cosmetics sector. Significant among these are impactful new definitions, mandatory registration of products and ingredients, reporting of serious adverse events, records access (including product safety records), GMPs, safety substantiation regulations and mandatory recall authority (and many others). Laws require the promulgation of implementing regulations – and the new law will require many new and complicated regulations – where the implementation process could be especially onerous resulting in lengthy and complicated regulations. The implementing regulations are very unlikely to be in place before the effective date of 1 year. As these are unfunded mandates, the new law gives the appearance of increasing the FDA’s cosmetic budget 4X – from about $10M to $40M. The current FDA cosmetics program staff is ill-equipped and understaffed to handle the new regulatory burden, and FDA will need to hire and train many new employees in addition to establishing the regulatory processes and infrastructure that will be required for implementation. Importantly for the regulated industry, new financial burdens are a given with small business especially affected. In sum, I think we might anticipate a lot of expense and process changes with questionable additional improvement in products already shown to be the safest regulated by FDA.

Read industry attorneys’ concerns about new legal risks that companies could face as a result of MoCRA.

Craig Weiss

Craig Weiss

President, Consumer Product Testing Company


For my business, there will be a marked increase in basic safety testing and consulting. MoCRA has an elevated safety standard and empowers the FDA with the ability to review cosmetic records, including complaints and safety. The elevated safety standard will require more testing. At the present time with the regulations not promulgated, it is not possible to know exactly everything that needs to be done, but many products will need additional testing. The challenge for the industry is if they wait until all regulations are finalized, there may not be enough laboratory capacity to meet the needs of the industry. MoCRA also requires all manufacturers to institute good manufacturing practices (GMP). A specific GMP is not called out in the law; it may be a challenge for companies starting at square one to get up to even the GMP guidance on the FDA cosmetic site. The challenge is that consulting time may become limited by demand.

Read about testing trends in recent years at the Consumer Product Testing Company.

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