Google released a skincare trends report recently, based on google search data compiled from September 2014 to September 2016. The report looks at the trends of 3 countries and their popular search terms: France, Japan, and the U.S. We try to extrapolate and interpret the data.
How It Works
Google’s report is intended for marketers primarily but offers important insights for everyday consumers as well. We want to look at the most common skincare concerns, and what people from different markets are looking for (via google search). Google’s report looks at the most common skincare related searches that people from the U.S, Japan, and France are looking at and whether they are trending up or down. The data for upward and downward trends are broken down into three patterns:
Sustained: Steady incline or decline in recent years.1 Upward trends show stable but gradual incline in popularity and interest while declines trend the other way.
Seasonal: Trends of search terms that spike seasonally. Inclines show a likely more substantial bump next season while declines will trend downwards next season.
Stars: These are short bursts of extreme growth but may not have longevity. Inclines show hot trends while declines are likely entering a fizzle out phase.
*We’ve taken the top 5 of a long list of trends. Also, we are looking at the dataset only for rising trends. For the full list, please read the pdf. For this article, we are looking at top skincare concerns against the search trends of these markets.
Top Skincare Concerns by Market
We first look at the most common concerns across different markets. The data shows that with the exception of Japan, skincare concerns are relatively uniform. Acne seems to be a universal concern, with hyperpigmentation and skin lightening more of a concern among the Asian population. It’s also interesting that oily skin is seen as the dominating concern in France and the U.S. while sensitive skin seems to be more predominant in Japan.
Sustained or “stable” is relative, as we are still talking about search trends within a 24-month time span. We need to keep in mind that within a fast-moving industry like skincare, it’s been stable compared to super-short term trends. We can see some divergence in trends here. Japan appears to be product or technology oriented, interested in new ideas and new science (these are search terms, so it’s undefined whether the science does support them), France is about natural or organic products, and the U.S. is more diverse with some innovative products, some about ethnic skincare or vegan or cruelty-free skincare.
|Epsom Salt Bath||Organic Coconut Oil||Cleansing|
|Apple Cider Vinegar Bath||Dermaroller||All-in-one Gel|
|Korean Skincare||Organic Castor Oil||Sheet Mask|
|Turmeric Mask||Aloe Vera Cream||Water Peeling|
|Vegan Skincare||Face Exfoliant||Carbonated Cleansing|
Seasonal means repeating patterns of an uptick according to the time of year. In some cases, like bath bombs, the seasonality is clear (people tend to enjoy baths more often in the colder months), while in others, like Aloe Vera gel, the connection is less clear. Masks seem to be very popular in Japan with some sake (rice wine) rising as a popular skincare ingredient. Cellulite seems to be both a bigger concern in France, as well as a seasonal pattern (more concerned as warmer weather approaches). The U.S. is again, quite diverse. Vegan and concern for animal welfare, in general, is an overall trend here.
|Bath Bombs||Marseille Soap||Whitening Cream|
|Face Brush||Facial Brush||Sake Lotions|
|Organic Castor Oil||Green Clay Poultice||Wiping Lotion|
|Aloe Vera Plant||Aloe Vera Gel||Clay Mask|
|Vegan Body Wash||Anticellulite Oil||Whitening Mask|
Rising stars or hot trends show the latest trends and the fastest growth rates (in searches). They are “untested” in the sense that the trend may be gone as quick as it came. Masks are a clear trend in 2017, showing up prominently in the U.S. searches, and also in France. In Japan, outside the carbonated face wash, the other searches seem generic rather than as a lookout for a specific product trend.
|Charcoal Mask||Blackhead Mask||Hot Cleansing|
|Peel-off Face Mask||Bath ball||Carbonated Face Wash|
|Sheet Mask||Organic Jojoba Oil||Pore Cotton Swab|
|24k Gold Mask||Charcoal Mask||Cleansing Balm|
|Charcoal for Skin||Charcoal Face Mask||Handmade Soap|
Patterns in Searches
Google reported a few insights about the search trends, notably:
Values and priorities differ across cultures: In the US and France, bathing is an experience and personalized. In Japan, the science behind the products is prioritized. In Japan, removing hyperpigmentation is a big concern (where 95%+ of the population is Japanese who are more prone to darkening).
Trends cross borders faster now: Masks were hot in Japan before they crossed to the US and then later to France. Look abroad for near-future trends as the “distance” between markets seems to be narrowing with greater access to products and greater communication (thanks Google). Users are actively searching up terms like “Asian Skincare” meaning that marketers are taking notes. Carbonated cleansers and masks maybe soon to hit the North American markets in the coming years or even months.
Each market has its own needs and idiosyncrasies: In one example, Cellulite is searched 30 times more in France than the US and 170 times more than in Japan. This particular search spikes in May with warmer weather, so indeed trends are in part, determined by what people are concerned about.
Top 5 searches for Ingredients
US: Clay, aloe vera, charcoal, gold, cocoa butter
France: Aloe vera, coconut oil, hyaluronic acid, micellar water, donkey milk
Japan: Enzyme, ceramide, vitamin C, water, clay
Top 5 searches for Ingredients
US: Mask, soap, lotion, oil, scrub
France: Gel, cream, soap, mask, oil
Japan: Face wash, mask, cleanser, serum, cream
Google also noted consistent patterns and increases that were still too small to make it into the top searches. The term “men’s skincare” while still a very small segment, is clearly on the rise in all three markets. We’ll leave it here for you to digest the data, but we’d like to come back to analyzing deeper into the data again in the future.
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1 It’s important to note that declining terms are usually still very popular. It’s required that a declining product be popular for it to decline in the first place.