Google Trends data, which began in 2004, shows U.S. searches on “hair loss” actually fell to an all-time low in March, when people presumably had bigger things to worry about. But they surged to an all-time high in August, falling only slightly so far in September.
Paid search traffic for the four top hair-loss supplement or treatment providers—GetRoman.com, Forhims.com, Hum Nutrition and Ritual—is up 134 percent year over year. And Roman also appears to be investing heavily in display ads, with 12 times as much traffic from display as it got in July, according to SimilarWeb.
Roman has been the runaway beneficiary of the hair-loss surge, with traffic to its site up almost 38 percent in August vs. last year, according to SimilarWeb. A spokeswoman for Roman says the direct-to-consumer brand's hair-loss treatment sales are currently running 300 percent ahead of last year's pace. But Roman has been putting all of its TV money into erectile dysfunction drugs, not hair loss, according to iSpot.tv.
Numerator, whose mobile panel tracks online and offline purchases, finds sales of hair-loss products soared 29.3 percent in August vs. a year ago.
Category leader Rogaine has seen an increase in consumer search and purchase over the past 12 months and that has “accelerated during the pandemic,” says a spokeswoman for the Johnson & Johnson brand. She attributes that to consumers placing a stronger value on health and wellness, too.
The market has shifted to e-commerce as “hair loss treatment tends to be a more private purchase,” she says, so Rogaine and Women’s Rogaine have shifted focus to digital, omnichannel and direct-to-consumer marketing and away from traditional channels. Indeed, like Roman, Rogaine hasn’t advertised hair-loss products on TV in the past year, per iSpot.tv.
While it’s hard to quantify how many of the nearly 6.7 million people who’ve contracted COVID-19 in the U.S. subsequently have suffered hair loss, the effect is real, Khetarpal says. It’s not so much a symptom as a consequence, she says.
The phenomenon is called telogen effluvium, a non-scarring hair loss that’s temporary and caused by a shock to the system, which also can include surgery, other major physical or psychological trauma, extreme weight loss or a change in diet. Post-partum hormonal changes or menopause also can be a cause.
The hair loss can last up to six or nine months, she says, and generally resolves on its own, though Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, can aid recovery or prevent the hair loss, Khetarpal says. Supplements that include vitamin D, iron and biotin also can help, she says.