The Self-Care Revolution: How Brands Are Helping Consumers Help Themselves

By Amruta Gupta, IRI

You may recall that back in 2014, CVS made waves across the retail world after announcing it would become the first national retail pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products in all of its stores. CVS’s shift toward a wellness-based model is one early example of retailers and manufacturers shifting focus toward consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness. The landscape has shifted much further since then.

As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, many consumers are taking their health and wellness into their own hands through an array of self-care activities. Given this macro consumer trend, self-care has become a $450 billion market that’s blurring traditional CPG category lines and leading to an expanded competitive set for brands.

IRI data shows that 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers practice some form of self-care, and over one-third have increased their self-care activities over the past year. They are not interested in just a single brand or product to solve their needs, rather they are seeking benefit-oriented solutions to meet their health and wellness needs. CPG retailers and brands that don’t want to miss this huge opportunity need to understand how to best address consumers’ self-care needs.

Growing Themes in Self-Care

During the past year, there have been three key themes we have noticed across the self-care industry. These themes include:

1. Blurring of Category Lines – Today’s consumers approach self-care with a 360-degree view and undertake a multitude of activities that range from proactive or preventative to reactive or treatment-oriented. Consumers are no longer brand- or ingredient-dependent, but rather are drawn to benefit-oriented solutions (i.e. products and services that address areas such as healthy food on-the-go, beauty with a purpose, and health areas such as sleep, immunity, mood, pain relief, etc.). CPG marketers need to get creative and also look outside traditional CPG category lines when addressing consumers’ self-care needs.

2. Growing Importance of “Better for Me” – Consumers have demanded transparency for food and beverage products for a while. Now, consumers expect the same transparency across other categories as well, including personal care, home care and healthcare. Whether it’s ice-cream, facewash, laundry detergent or cough syrup, consumers want transparency for the ingredients used, where the ingredients were sourced from, how the product was made and the impact of the production process to the environment - so they can make their own decisions on whether to use a product or not. 

3. Role of Consumer Healthcare – According to IRI data, in 2018, 56 percent of respondents said over-the-counter (OTC) products were their first line of defense in treating a condition before calling a doctor. This number is 8 percentage points higher than it was in 2014 thanks to CPG marketers’ activities around promoting the responsible and safe use of OTC products through education, ingredient labeling and standardization of ingredient strength. All of these factors have played vital roles in empowering the consumer to choose OTC over other options.

Retailers and brands trying to navigate this complex environment need a comprehensive approach for their own portfolio and channels, as well as competitors’, in order to understand and address the existing and evolving trends and self-care needs of current and future customers. Those marketers that can best meet the self-care needs of their consumers and customers will be the ones who win. While this may seem overwhelming, there are many resources that can help.  

Click here to read our recent paper on this topic or contact me at to learn how IRI can help you take charge of this $450 billion opportunity.



How can we help you supercharge growth and profitability?


95% of CPG, retail, and health and beauty companies in the Fortune 100 work with us

Answer the question below:
Is five > than nine? (true/false)