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Deodorant makers eye natural, new delivery methods

Getting consumers to buy deodorant solely on claims about wetness protection and odor control is, well, the pits. The deodorant category has not been spared from the trend that has roiled other segments, namely consumers gravitating toward products that contain natural and organic ingredients, as well as a variety of scents that are naturally sourced and considered therapeutic. If that’s not enough, many consumers also are insisting that manufacturers take steps to protect the environment with environmentally friendly packaging.

Companies looking to tap into this market — which market research firm IRI said totaled $3 billion for the year ended Aug. 12 —are focusing their efforts on addressing consumer desires around ingredients, scents and delivery methods, as well as an environmental focus.

What’s inside?
One company taking a lead in the natural arena with its line of deodorants is Austin, Texas-based Lafe’s Natural BodyCare. CEO Lafe Larson said that of particular consumer focus are ingredients, with shoppers growing increasingly wary of such category mainstays as propylene glycol, aluminum zirconium and aluminum chlorohydrate, as well as baking soda.

According to Emily O’Neill, marketing manager at Amityville, N.Y.-based Sundial Brands’ Nubian Heritage brand, this ingredients focus is fueling shoppers’ quest for more natural alternatives.

“Consumers are trying to avoid certain chemicals and ingredients. Everyone is taking a closer look at all of the products they use every day,” she said. “Given that there are a lot of health concerns surrounding breast cancer in women and the chemicals in cosmetics, a lot of people are discovering natural deodorants that use natural ingredients to fight bacteria as opposed to stopping the body from sweating.”

Michael Cammarata, co-founder and CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Schmidt’s, said the natural products are especially important to younger consumers. “Natural deodorants are becoming mainstream for the first time, and the trend is definitely led by millennials and Gen Z entering the market. They are focusing on ingredients, transparency and vegan and cruelty-free products,” he said.

Kennebunk, Maine-based Tom’s of Maine also is seeing the natural trend in deodorants gain momentum with customers. “We’re seeing an ever-increasing desire for more transparency in all of personal care, particularly in deodorants,” Tom’s of Maine associate marketing director Matt Smith said.

Manufacturers also are offering scents that are naturally derived and free of chemicals. Many also boast that they are vegan and cruelty-free, meaning they are not tested on animals.

Passing the sniff test
For many manufacturers, ingredients and the scent that deodorants offer go hand in hand. Lafe’s Soothe lavender-scented deodorant, for example, uses certified-
organic lavender essential oils. The company’s Bliss, a rose-scented deodorant, is derived from a rose flower oil.

Similarly, Marin County, Calif.-based EO Products’ Everyone Natural Deodorant, available in a 4-oz. spray bottle in Tea Tree + Lavender and Lemon + Lavender scents, is focused on ingredients. “Each deodorant is formulated with water, alcohol, 100% pure essential oils and ethanol, derived from sugar cane to naturally fight against odor-causing bacteria,” said Susan Griffin-Black, co-founder and CEO of EO Products.

Lafe’s and Eo Products’ focus on the ingredients that give its products scent are just two examples of the efforts that manufacturers are undertaking to ensure their products deliver on how consumers want to smell — with a diminished focus on masculine versus feminine scents.

This past summer, Schmidt’s brought back Waves, a limited-edition scent that it had introduced in the summer of 2017, due to consumer demand. According to Cammarata, Schmidt’s consumers are taking a unisex approach to the company’s scents.

“Males and females are using our rose vanilla, bergamot lime and charcoal magnesium. We’ don’t see a barrier. The scents have become unisex,” Cammarata said.

French Transit also is seeing males and females embracing the same deodorant products. The company’s chamomile and green tea, and unscented deodorants are examples, according to Catie Wiggy, director of product innovation at the Louisville, Colo.-based company. Wiggy said the company in 2019 will introduce two gender-
neutral fragrances, a fresh mint scent and a mountain fresh scent.

Manufacturers also are reporting an increase in men using scented-deodorant sprays. Noting that Lafe’s deodorant sticks still drive the category, Larsen said Lafe’s water-based pump sprays are becoming popular among men who are feeling more comfortable spraying products on their body. “Over the last decade, men have been taught it’s okay to go to the spa and take care of their skin. We’re seeing more demand for sprays,” he said.

Deodorant delivery
How deodorant is delivered is just one of the ways manufacturers are looking to deliver on consumer demand. As it happens, consumers are no longer loyal to one product they use for all occasions.

“People are playing around with different types of antiperspirants and deodorants, and they’re using different products depending on what they’re doing that day, or what type of mood they are in,” said Dawn Hedgepeth, general manager and vice president of Unilever deodorants, men’s grooming and hand and body lotion. “Almost half of consumers are applying deodorant multiple times a day. We are seeing changes in consumer occasions and habits influencing product choices.”

Last year, in its aerosol antiperspirant dry spray format, Hedgepeth said Unilever introduced a new platform that ensures no white marks or yellow stains. “We’ve seen a lot of traction with consumers responding well to products that provide better delivery and no white marks or stains on their clothing,” she said.

Deodorant wipes and creams are two additional deodorant formulations that are finding their way onto retailer’s shelves.

EO Products has introduced Certified Organic Deodorant Wipes Tea Tree and Lavender, and EO Deodorant Creams, which control odor with plant-based ingredients. The cream deodorant is available in lavender, citrus sage and geranium scents.

Crystal deodorants have been available for several decades, but as consumers embrace natural products, they are becoming more popular, and the actual crystal rock, which is made from potassium alum, is being used in more formulations.

This year, French Transit unveiled Invisible Solid Mineral deodorant in a clear-stick format. The deodorant contains natural botanicals and provides crystal protection. French Transit’s ammonium alum, a large round stone that is sold in a bag, comes with a dish to place the rock on.

Lafe has been offering crystals for 20 years, and Larsen said, “We’ve taken the natural-occurring mineral salts that are so effective in crystal and using it in our roll-ons and spray as a primary antibacterial agent. It washes off when you take a shower so it’s not absorbed in your body.”

Environmentally friendly
As they consider the impact of their personal care products on their bodies, consumers also are asking the companies they buy from to focus on the impact of their products on the environment, looking closely at a deodorant brand’s stance when it comes to sustainability.

Unilever recently unveiled Love Beauty and Planet, a line of deod
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