Evercore ISI’s Nielsen data shows panic buying peaked the week ended March 15, with sales of staple brands still at ridiculously elevated levels the week ended March 22, but not as extreme as the week before. Leading the “winners” was Kimberly-Clark Corp., fueled by toilet paper brands Scott and Cottonelle, with sales up 160 percent the week ended March 15 and 92 percent the week ended March 22.
Other key gainers were RB (Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Lysol and Mucinex) up 148 percent and 95 percent, respectively, for the same two weeks; Clorox Co., up 125/91; Procter & Gamble Co. (maker of Charmin, Bounty and Pampers) up 109/68; Colgate-Palmolive Co. (toothpaste and Softsoap) up 90/80; and Kraft Heinz, one of the few to accelerate sales in the second of the two weeks, up 75/86.
Meanwhile, beauty brands are suffering from far fewer people leaving home for work or play. Sales for L’Oréal fell 10 percent the week of March 22 after rising 9 percent the prior week, per Evercore/Nielsen; while Coty sales fell 17 percent in the second week after falling 9 percent the prior week.
Keep in mind “winners” here refers to short-term gains. Marketers involved are going to pains not to appear opportunistic, even as unaffiliated third-party sellers jacked up prices online when they could. The marketers also have had to turn up production and delivery to fill store shelves during a crisis, while knowing sales will generally fall off a cliff in a few weeks as panic buying ends and people, many of whom are jobless, work through pantry inventories.
Also, all the companies listed above have stepped up charitable giving, some shifting production to make hand sanitizers, masks or other equipment for health workers.