Brandreview provides strategic insight into the positions brands occupy in the minds of consumers. Each month, Validators takes a closer look at a different industry. For this Christmas special, we zoom in on Christmas gifts in the cosmetics and grooming category. From research from Sensu Insight Ltd commissioned by One4all gift cards shows that cosmetics (40%) and personal care products (33%) are the top-selling Christmas gifts. With input from consumers, Validators selected the 12 most frequently mentioned stores and brands that are purchased for Christmas and mapped the mental market position of these.

Brandreview is part of the Consumer Behavior Monitor, initiative of Validators and VU Amsterdam to measure the effect of a crisis on consumer behavior since 2020. In this article you will read the main outcomes, in the Brandreview Academy on January 17 more depth will be given.

The purpose of the survey is to identify needs and consumer perspective. What do consumers base their choices on when buying Christmas gifts in the most purchased category of cosmetics and grooming? Validators arrived at 12 key needs (CEPs: Category Entry Points) for buying Christmas gifts within this category. Of these, the chart below shows the two most relevant and least relevant needs.

Figure 1: Top 2 CEPs with highest and lowest relevance within Christmas gifts cosmetics and grooming

'I want to buy a Christmas gift that is fun to give' is the main motive for buying in the cosmetics and care category. This reason was cited by a whopping 80% of Christmas shoppers as the main reason for buying cosmetics and care gifts for Christmas. The second-most relevant reason is "to spoil the recipient," 77% of the Dutch consider this an important reason when buying a Christmas gift. The two least important reasons are that the gift is a "well-known brand" and "nicely wrapped. Only a third of the target group says they consider this important.

Market shares in Christmas gift cosmetics and grooming industry
For each need, brands that are linked to it by consumers are measured. So for 'nice to give' the link is made to which brands are nice to give for Christmas. Thus the mental market share is mapped for the brands mentioned. In the case of Christmas gifts, not only brands are considered, but also stores. Looking at a brand from a consumer's need reveals that a brand does not always compete with the most obvious alternatives within the same industry. Hugo Boss, for example, competes with Rituals. Still, to map how a brand performs within this Christmas "market," mental market shares are calculated and then compared to actual buying behavior as a measure of true market share (see Figure 2 below). This analysis provides a valuable prediction of future consumer buying behavior when it comes to Christmas gifts in cosmetics and grooming.

 Figure 2. Mental versus real Christmas gift market share grooming and cosmetics industry

First strategic exploration in the Christmas gift cosmetics and grooming industry

Figure 2 shows that Rituals claims mental leadership, but Kruidvat is the most purchased and winner in real market share with Christmas shopping. Kruidvat does have a lower mental market share compared to real market share. Often this creates a vulnerable position, but in Kruidvat's case this is a choice because they establish themselves as a price fighter; 'Always surprising, always advantageous'. Figure 3 clearly shows that Kruidvat (35%) is strongly established in the 'inexpensive buying' need in the minds of consumers also for Christmas shopping.

Figure 3. Mental market share distribution CEP Advantageous Buying

Rituals is the mental market leader at Christmas, but has a lower real market share (see Figure 2). So there are barriers preventing Rituals from being bought as much as consumers think of them. This means there is growth potential, which is achieved by removing these barriers. Rituals is also leader when it comes to most considered brand in all categories (network size). Kruidvat narrowly passes Rituals in mental reach (% mentioned at least once in category) at 4%. The most smaller "Christmas brands" are logically a bit higher in mental share and will be working hard to entice and reach consumers. The large consumer brands seem to be able to make good use of their existing brand position.

Nicely wrapped Christmas gift and a well-known brand are less important

When it comes to a 'nicely wrapped' Christmas present, the more luxurious brands, such as Rituals, ICI PARIS XL and Douglas, score higher than the well-known drugstores. Interestingly, only 33% of consumers think it is important that the Christmas present they buy is 'nicely wrapped' (see Figure 1). Also, within this category, 'brand familiarity' is relevant to only a third when buying Christmas gifts. Although a "well-known brand" and a "nicely wrapped gift" are less important, it is important that the gift is "fun to give" and that the "recipient is spoiled with it.

Hema scores above average on sustainability

Sustainability seems to be becoming increasingly important when buying products, but when it comes to Christmas gifts, sustainability matters to 43% of Dutch people. Although Hema and Rituals are considered above their average market share in this category, sustainability plays a relatively small role when buying a Christmas gift.


The various CEPs measure the number of brands being considered. If many brands are considered in a category, competition is greater. The number of competitors ranges from 2.9 to 4.1 brands per CEP. In terms of ROI, it can make quite a difference in which need you want to grow. For example, the least competition is on "durable gift" and the most competition is on "smells good" and "wish list. As a newcomer to the Christmas gift industry, it is wise to pay attention to relevant CEPs where there are relatively few competitors.

Learn more at Brandreview Academy January 17, 2023
If you want to learn more about Brandreview in the Christmas gift industry or want to learn more about growing your (mental) market share and the science behind it? Then sign up for the online workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

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In 2018, VU Amsterdam and Validators launched the Institute for Brand Analytics. The goal of this collaboration is to make brands steerable and market shares measurable in the minds of consumers. After four years of research on over 300 brands, we arrived at a method that could measure the strength of brands and make predictions about market share. Starting in August, a specific industry will run each month as part of the Consumer Behavior Monitor. First, an online qualitative preliminary survey tests consumer needs (CEPs) and then a Brand Review measurement.


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