A new opportunity has emerged in the nail polish category – nail colour-care. The nail polish category is waning globally, suffering from cannibalisation from other nail colour and care categories. Gel nail systems, for example, have been especially successful in the UK and US: the UK gel nail systems segment saw 39% growth 2013-14, while the US segment experienced a 35% increase in consumer use 2013-15. Similarly, nail treatments have been the US’s strongest nail subcategory, posting strong growth of 18% 2013-15, compared to nail polish’s decline of 13.6%.

Nail polish can learn from the success of these cannibalising categories by integrating nail care benefits into nail polishes to create a new, hybrid category. This category will likely attract users of both gel systems and nail polish, helping to reinvigorate the nail polish category’s waning sales, as well as bringing a healthier alternative for gel users.

More than just colour

Mintel’s Nail Color and Care US 2016 report revealed that around a quarter of US consumers who use nail services are concerned about chemicals and the damage they can cause to nails. Additionally, a quarter of women in the UK express an interest in buying nail polish with nail care benefits, such as those with ingredients which moisturise and improve nail texture.

Prompted by the popularity of BB creams in the colour cosmetics market, many other BPC brands are blurring boundaries between products, offering both cosmetic and care benefits. Nail products are no exception. By using on-trend ingredients and formats, nail brands can convey the idea that nails should be treated like skin or hair and will appeal to consumers who look for more than just colour.

Recent successes in the nail colour care segment include L’Oréal’s Color Riche Oil-Based Nail Lacquer and the Nails Inc Gel Effect Coconut Brights Collection, which use precious oils and coconut water, both known for their hydrating and restorative properties. Butter London Sheer Wisdom Nail Tinted Moisturiser is another example of category blurring, with features being borrowed from facial make-up.

Further opportunity

When integrating nail care, brands need to ensure that this isn’t done to the detriment of current long-lasting claims, which remain an essential driver for the success of gel polishes. According to Mintel, 41% of women in the UK think that nail polish never lasts as long as they want it to. This furthers the need for ‘healthy’ or ‘caring’ gel systems, adopting similar concepts such as gel serums, oils and conditioners.

There remains opportunities for further development, and companies can gain inspiration from skincare, facial make-up and haircare products that focus strongly upon moisturising and caring claims. By using on-trend ingredients, formats and textures, nail polish can incorporate many cross-category features to create new formats such as nail conditioners, nail oils (using argan and new, trendy oils such as Kukui and black seed oil), and nail serum foundations. New hydrating textures, such as jelly, will also carry strong moisturising properties.

Emmanuelle is Mintel’s Global Fragrance and Colour Cosmetics Analyst, working across several beauty categories, with clients around the world providing trends, markets and innovation insights and analysis. She is frequently a key speaker at leading beauty tradeshows and is regularly called to contribute to international, national and trade publications.

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