The segment has been in a slow decline since 2008, losing an estimated 1.5 percent of its total value in 2008 and an estimated 0.5 percent of its values in 2009, giving it a current value of $963m, according to figures from market researcher Mintel.
Continued inactivity in this segment is likely to keep consumers away this year, too, with the market predicted to shrink a further 0.5 percent to $958m, at which point the downward trend is expected to be reversed by a return to steady growth over the next five years.
Mintel researchers predict that by 2015 the market will have grown by an estimated 15 percent to reach $1.1bn by the year 2015, representing annual grow of around 3 percent.
No to frivolity, but where's the excitement?
The recession has seen consumers spurn products that are considered to be superfluous or frivolous, which has meant some products in the body care segment have dropped off the shopping list, but likewise, Mintel says consumer enthusiasm for the segment has been dampened by fewer product launches, making it seem less exciting.
However, there has been evidence of some areas of growth particularly for the newer brands, the more dominant brands and private label brands - trends that are likely to pave the way for recovery in the category in future years.
Mintel research highlights Jergen’s Natural Glow, which reported sales growth of 17.3 percent to $34m in the financial year up to April 2010, while first year sales of Vaseline Sheer Infusion were reported to be $11m.
Established brands, particularly those belonging to Beiersdorf, also helped to slow the downward slide, with the Eucerin brand reporting sales 8.7 percent sales growth to $35m in the year up to April 2010.
Beiersdorf the only big player still gaining ground
Although there are four clear leaders in the US body care category – Johnson & Johnson, Beiersdorf, Uniliver and Kao – the Mintel research shows that of these companies it was only Beiersdorf that has shown any clear gains in recent years, a success that is largely attributed to the increasing Eucerin sales.
The research also highlights the surprising fact that Eucerin, which is a brand marketed on the basis of its medicinal qualities, has outpaced sales of J&J’s Aveeno brand, which is reported to have had mixed results, despite being marketed on the back of its natural formulation.
Private label has also reaped the benefits of consumers trying to make their dollar spend go further, with estimated sales increasing by more than 16 percent during the last year to reach $76m, a figure that represents the fastest growth within the category.
Don't forget Latinos
But as well as the private label category, another area that is likely to hold a great deal of potential is body care products that are targeted at Latino consumers.
The growth in the size of the population, combined with increased spending power is likely to fuel further interest in the category.
According to Mintel survey results, growth in the category is likely to be further highlighted by a distinct preference within Latinos communities body care products with scent and SPF as well as natural and active ingredients.