The Consumer Packaged Goods Year In Review

15 minutes

CPG Year In Review 2020: A once-in-a-generation shift for the consumer packaged goods industry

Nearly every facet of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry was impacted when the Covid-19 pandemic changed life as we know it.

In March, social distancing and other health guidelines forced a majority of Americans to begin to shelter-in-place. And as our home and work lives became indelibly blended, consumer purchasing behavior changed drastically. Demand for shelf-stable items and essential goods, such as cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, quickly outpaced supply; panic-driven stock-up trips became the norm; e-commerce was and continues to be the primary mode of shopping; markets were rocked;bakers were born.

And above all, demand planners were hanging on for dear life.

For organizations up and down the supply chain, the challenge of staying ahead of the consumer quickly transformed into the challenge of simply keeping up with them. Brands, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, e-commerce platforms, logistics and warehousing firms—you name it—were forced to make changes to the way they operate in order to meet the moment (or get left behind). Inundated by a tidal wave of unusual levels of demand, adapting became essential.

For many brands, inventory simply fell short, and countless companies missed out on sales and potentially lost hard-fought shelf space; SKU rationalization became prevalent; demand predictions were way off, inaccurate to a fault. And as service levels dropped, stress levels rose—from the production floor to S&OP meetings, where forecasting demand accurately was an even bigger statistical challenge than usual. When the future meant more than ever, it became increasingly difficult to sift through a jungle of consumer and market data, analyze it, accurately forecast sales, and gain actionable insights from it.

Now, many “unprecedented” trends and other consumer-related phenomena have slowly but surely become a part of our daily lives. But which ones are here to stay? How can CPG companies put 2020 in perspective and confidently plan for the future?


Join us as we look back at 2020 through the lens of five vital CPG categories. Plus, some action items to make 2021 your brand’s best year yet.

Health, Beauty & Personal Care

If nothing else, 2020 was the year of hand sanitizer.

Hand Sanitizer +600.8% YoY

Consumers turned to Hand Sanitizer to keep the germs at bay. In the 40-week period ended 11/28, sales jumped +706.6% YoY.

Spring was a popular period for the Hand Sanitizer category,with sales growth peaking at +1,392.8% YoY in the 4-week period ended 6/13.

Implementing a More Holistic Supply Chain Management Strategy [Unioncrate]

Deodorant -2.9% YoY

When physical interactions were traded for virtual hangouts, Deodorant was one of the first things to be scrapped from the shopping list. Sales fell -15.1% YoY in the 4-week period ended 4/18.

It wasn’t all bad news for the category, though. Unisex Deodorant grew +21.6% YoY in the 40-week period ended 11/28.

Face Cosmetics -24.3% YoY

Foundation sales dropped -28.0% YoY in the 40-week period ended 11/28, decreasing as low as -45.4% YoY in the 4-week period ended 4/18.

Nevertheless, there were still some highlights. While Blush went down -26.4% YoY in the 40-week period, some subcategories saw very strong growth: Liquid Blush grew +98.2% YoY and Cream Blush spiked +107.7% YoY.

[Related Reading: The New Rules of Demand Planning for 2021 & Beyond]

Vitamins & Supplements +18.6% YoY

When the pandemic was officially declared in March, Immunity Vitamins became a favorite for shoppers. The category experienced a +99.6% YoY pop in the 40-week period ended 11/28 and grew as high as +270.0% YoY in a single 4-week period.

The Sleep Aid Supplements category grew +44.4% YoY during the pandemic, helping us all leave work stress in the living room.

Shampoo +0.8% YoY

Dry Shampoo touch-ups weren’t needed as much during quarantine, and the category fell -7.8% YoY in the 40-week period ended 11/28, ebbing as low as -28.8% YoY in a single 4-week period.

Clarifying Shampoos were among the most popular items in the category this year, growing +45.0% YoY.

Conditioner +5.4% YoY

With enough time at home to condition hair the conventional way, Dry Conditioner was no longer a must. The subcategory experienced a -24.0% YoY drop this year.

On the other hand, Curl-Enhancing Conditioner was the most popular subcategory, growing +31.6% YoY in the 40-week period ended 11/28.

Download via the landing page to see more insights from these categories...

  • Food & Beverage
  • Pet Care
  • Baby Care
  • Household Care

About Unioncrate

Unioncrate is an AI-powered Supply Chain Planning Platform that gives CPG brands the technology they need to compete and win in a rapidly changing consumer landscape. Our automated demand and supply forecasts deliver unmatched accuracy, collaborative visibility, and actionable intelligence, simplifying a manual-heavy process and slashing hours from your week.

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