In the first quarter of 2017, Amazon was the sole growth driver in the Health & Personal Care market.

In a pattern we’re noticing with some regularity, the US health & personal care market stalled in Q1 2017. In fact, US domestic sales in the sector actually showed a nominal decrease (by about 1%) year-over-year in the first three months of 2017 according to data collected by the US Census Bureau. Predictably, this negative growth has taken place entirely in the brick-and-mortar space. Online sales, for which Amazon holds the largest market share, are showing positive growth as consumers abandon in-store shopping in favor of eCommerce.

In our review of the 2016 Health & Personal Care (HPC) market, we pointed out the relatively low eCommerce penetration for the product group, while predicting that Amazon was on track to change that. Now after Q1 2017, Amazon has done just that, becoming the single best growth opportunity for HPC brands.

The Numbers2017-Amazon-HPC-eCommerce-revenues

Health & personal care retail experienced the second highest YoY gain of any category in 2016 at 7.4% growth, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Retail Trade Report. In the same year, online sales grew by a total of 11.4%, but still accounted for a below-average market share.’s HPC market, however, grew by 35% to reach $4.7 billion in total sales in the US, with similarly impressive results in the UK.

Now for Q1 2017, total market growth has stalled completely while Amazon’s growth has carried on. The first quarter, which is typically the quarter with the lowest total sales in the HPC sector, has already passed 27.5% of 2016’s total sales.  All things considered, Amazon is wholly responsible for growth in the US HPC industry in 2017 so far.

US/UK Comparison

  • $60 million: Q1 2017 Health & Personal Care sales on
  • 30%: The YoY growth of Health & Personal Care sales on

The UK Health & Personal Care Amazon growth was neck-and-neck with the US in the first part of 2017, matching its rate of 30% (which represents a $15 million increase YoY). Notably, Nutrition & Wellness, which was the top growth category in both countries in 2016, has dropped significantly and been supplanted by Skin Care in the US and Shaving & Hair Removal in the UK.

Fastest Growing Health & Personal Care Categories (Excluding Pantry)2017-Amazon-HPC-revenues-US-UK

US Category/Subcategory Growth UK Category/Subcategory Growth
Skin Care 90% Shaving & Hair Removal 90%
     Feet, Hand & Nails 200%      Miscellaneous Shaving & Hair Removal 180%
     Bath & Shower 80%      Razors and Sets 80%
     Body 70%    
Home Storage 70% Health Care 50%
     Cleaning Supplies 80%      Oral Pain Medication 160%
     Storage & Organization 40%      Lip Remedies 40%
     Antacids/Stomach Remedies 40%
Health Care 50% Skin Care 220%
     Eye Care 90%      Feet 470%
     Straighteners 90%      Baby/Infant/Child 290%
     Smoking Cessation 80%      Antiperspirants/Deodorants 80%
Household Consumables 50% Family Planning 70%
     Home/Office Supplies 100%      Condoms 80%
     Laundry 80%      Personal Lubricants 70%
     Paper 40%    
Nutrition & Wellness 40% Household Consumables 200%
     Multi-Vitamins 40%      Paper 240%
     Diet Supplements 70%      Air Fresheners 200%
     Core Letter Vitamins 70%      Adult Incontinence 170%
     Food 90%

Fastest Growing Health & Personal Care Products (Excluding Pantry)2017-Amazon-HPC-revenues-international

Prime Pantry

As in 2016, the real MVP of Amazon’s Health & Personal Care product group continues to be the Prime Pantry. Last year’s sharp rise in Amazon Prime membership has continued into Q1 2017. With more shoppers buying exclusive access to Amazon Pantry, the rate of growth for HPC (and most other product categories) is much higher in Pantry than in the general marketplace, with the top categories multiplying revenue by as much as 5 times.

In the US, 2017 Q1 Pantry accounted for 5.5% of Amazon’s HPC sales, up from 4% in 2016, a growth of 70% or more than $71 million in sales over a 3-month period. In the UK, Pantry climbed from 1% to 3% of the total, a growth of 200% or $1.8 million. Taking both markets into account, Personal Care was the top growth category, while the leaders in each country were Hair Care in the US and Household Consumables in the UK.

Fastest Growing Health & Personal Care Categories in Amazon Pantry2017-Amazon-Pantry-revenues-US-UK

US Category/Subcategory Growth UK Category/Subcategory Growth
Hair Care 85% Household Consumables 440%
Styling Products 160%      Toilet Tissue/Kitchen Roll 500%
Shampoo & Conditioner 75%      Laundry 250%
Skin Care 125% Bath & Shower 390%
Feet, Hand & Nails 145%      Bathing Accessories 390%
Bath & Shower 145% Personal Care 200%
Skin Care 130%      Feminine Hygiene – Sanitary Towels 250%
Men 100%      Adult Incontinence 120%
Sex & Sensuality 100% Shaving & Hair Removal 160%
Personal Lubricants 150%      Shaving Cream/Gels 360%
Condoms/Contraceptives 50%      Razors and Sets 130%
Personal Care 115% Oral Care 110%
Bar Soap/Body Wash 370%      Manual Toothbrushes 160%
Toothpaste/Whiteners/Mouthwash 120%      Toothpaste/Whiteners/Mouthwash 100%
Misc Personal Care 110%
Antiperspirants/Deodorants 90%    
Shaving Cream/Gels 80%    

Fastest Growing Health & Personal Care Products in Amazon Pantry

The first quarter of the year often acts as a reset button. The back half of each year is informed by seasonal purchases, first by the summer in Q2 and Q3 and finally by the holiday shopping season in Q4. Q1 is when consumers go back to “regular” buying habits, except now informed by the trends and developments of the past year. Because of this, Q1 tends to be a fairly accurate gauge of the coming year.

In the case of Q1 2017, Amazon has emerged as the unchallenged growth leader of the health & personal care market. As Amazon continues to attract Prime subscribers, more first-party sellers are also gravitating to the platform, since manufacturers are watching sales stagnate at brick-and-mortar outlets while more consumers adopt eCommerce. 2017 will be shaped by suppliers pulling investment away from physical retailers and shifting focus onto digital sales, with Amazon leading the pack.

“The Amazon Effect” series breaks down Amazon’s performance in specific product groups, comparing it to the total retail sales (online and offline) of that sector. In this latest edition, we revisit the Health & Personal Care sector and compare the first quarter of 2017 to the same period in 2016, analyzing how consumer habits have changed in the past year.

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