As lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom began to loosen, an interesting consumer trend emerged, sending sales figures soaring for certain products. Durex, a well-known brand in the realm of intimate products, reported a significant surge in condom sales. KY lubricants and Veet hair removal products have also enjoyed resurgent sales, according to British consumer goods titan Reckitt Benckiser, as customers ventured outside again after a year of lockdowns.
These trends can be attributed to customers finally venturing outside and resuming their pre-pandemic lifestyles after a year marked by lockdowns and restrictions.
However, this boost in sales for products like Durex came at the expense of Reckitt Benckiser’s overall financial results for the year 2021 when compared to the unprecedented spike in sales of disinfectant products like Dettol that accompanied the initial outbreak of Covid-19. This shift in consumer behavior is indicative of the evolving demands and priorities of individuals during the pandemic and in its aftermath.
Globally, the company said on Thursday that it had seen strong demand for intimate products in markets such as China and India, where Durex is now the second best-selling condom brand.
On the flip side, products related to cold and flu management, such as Lemsip and Strepsils, witnessed a resurgence in sales during the latter half of 2021. This was primarily due to more people frequenting bars and restaurants, where they were exposed to a greater risk of catching common illnesses. The company attributed this growth in sales to the fact that there were very low incidences of cold and flu in 2020 and the spring of 2021, which had negatively impacted sales of key medicines.
As Reckitt Benckiser looks ahead to 2022, it anticipates a further uptick in the sales of its products. However, the company also acknowledges the challenges posed by surging inflation rates. In its financial results, Reckitt Benckiser disclosed that expenses rose by 11% in 2021, primarily due to the impact of cost inflation. In response, the company plans to increase prices and implement cost-cutting measures to alleviate these financial pressures.
The phenomenon experienced by Reckitt Benckiser mirrors a broader trend among consumer brands grappling with the effects of rising inflation. As seen with Heineken’s recent announcement of price increases, companies are often compelled to pass on higher costs to consumers, potentially affecting consumption patterns. In the case of Reckitt Benckiser, this dynamic underscores the complex interplay between consumer behavior and economic factors in a post-pandemic world.