Tanya Rajani
Tanya is Mintel's Beauty and Personal Care Analyst based in Mumbai. She specialises in analysing and providing insights on India’s beauty and personal care market and consumer trends.

The pandemic has impacted Indian consumers with general feelings of anxiety over the uncertainty of what lies ahead. This has resulted in increased stress and sleep deprivation. According to research from Mintel’s Global COVID-19 Tracker, almost three in five consumers surveyed in June are still extremely worried about getting infected, whereas over four in five consumers are still extremely concerned about how the outbreak has affected their lifestyle.

These worries have heightened the stress levels of Indian consumers and the change in lifestyle can uncover new use occasions for hair oils.

With the increased focus on mental health and emotional wellbeing during the ongoing pandemic, self-care and wellness messages from BPC brands have become increasingly more popular. Brands are catering to consumer demands for self-care experiences that can help them unwind, relax and de-stress.

Beauty brands can also take cues from Japan to answer the need for self-care and emotional wellbeing, as over a third of Indians have shared that they are interested in buying beauty and grooming products that can help them relax. According to Mintel Global New Products Database, between January and March 2020, Japan’s beauty and personal care launches, with the keywords ‘stress’ and ‘sleep’ were eight times higher than that of India.

Hair oils with relaxation and sleep benefits remain a white space in the Indian market that can be leveraged to drive growth for this highly competitive category. By giving hair oils a self-care spin, it can result in increased usage by identifying this new use occasion, which can, in turn, lead to category growth. Furthermore, the image of ‘mass’ hair oils breaks to allow for repositioning of these products as being on a ‘masstige’ level.

Position hair oils as an at-home spa treatment

In India, the practise of oiling the head has been done for generations. Moreover in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine has widely propagated the head massage for relieving stress. With India taking a strong lead in hair oils due to its well-established hair-oiling rituals –  brands have the opportunities to combine the self-care spin with these time-honoured practices to create an at-home spa narrative for a holistic approach to relaxation. This offers a fresh perspective that also aligns with modern consumer needs.

Vaadi Herbal Amla Cool Oil, India
This product is said to be made from pure herbs, including nourishing amla. It claims to prevent premature hair fall and make hair lustrous and soft, instantly relieve headaches, knee aches, body aches, migraines and stress; and helps to enhance sleep.

Exploring scents and textures

Brands can motivate consumers to take pleasure in and comfort from hair oiling rituals by exploring the use of mood-boosting scents and unique textures, especially with the ongoing anxiety and stress. The self-care angle can be further strengthened by using the right communication and positioning.

Rituals… The Ritual of Jing Relax Sacred Lotus & Jujube, Netherlands
This product contains sacred lotus flowers known for their soothing properties and jujube seeds to reduce stress and produce a calm state of mind. The product features a relaxing fragrance of sacred lotus and the calming properties of jujube, to provide a calm atmosphere and feeling when the users spray it on your hair, body or fabrics.

Including adaptogenic and Ayurvedic ingredients

Skincare has already been seeing the trend of botanical and herbal ingredients known as adaptogens, which claim to help people relax, recharge and cope with stress. There exists an opportunity to leverage the benefits of adaptogens in the hair care category. With a heightened focus on Ayurveda during the pandemic, include well-known Ayurvedic ingredients like ashwagandha and tulsi in hair oils, and position them as de-stressors or as the equivalent of skin boosters for hair.

YTTP Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, USA
This product is described as a deeply moisturising cream and claims to hydrate and soothe, fight free radicals and fatigue, and deeply moisturise skin. It contains adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms to calm the skin when faced with daily stressors like UV rays and environmental pollutants, squalene, and pentapeptide to calm the stress reaction in sensitive and irritated skin. The adaptogen blend comprises adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha and rhodiola; holy basil and reishi, an adaptogenic mushroom.