As reported in a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, “sensitive skin affects around 50% of [the] adult population.” As a result, a myriad of products formulated for sensitive skin are launched every year, from serums, lotions, and creams to cosmetics, body washes, and deodorants.
However, there are few deodorants marketed towards children and teenagers currently available – and even less that contain natural ingredients and are formulated for sensitive skin. Kobi, however, is looking to become a disruptor in this niche personal care product space.
We spoke with Siôn Owen, Founder and CEO at Kobi for his insights into what influenced the development of Kobi Natural Sport Deodorant for kids and teens, the research and development process behind the product’s formulation, and his projections for the biggest trends and opportunities for the brand in the personal care product space.
Owen did not start his career in the personal care product space, having spent over a decade and a half working in marketing at tech companies. Instead, the inspiration for Kobi came from personal experience, he shared.
“My friend’s nine-year-old daughter suddenly came home from school one day with eye-watering body odor” he explained, and “being still a young child with sensitive skin, my friend wanted a gentle, kid-friendly deodorant for her, but there was nothing like that on store shelves and only a few lackluster options online.”
Eventually, having “stumbled upon what I felt was an interesting opportunity,” he continued, “I set out to create a deodorant that wouldn’t irritate the more sensitive skin that kids have,” and “shortly thereafter launched the Kobi brand, and our kids’ deodorant product as a side project to see if there was any demand.”
The demand was evident as it “turns out there are lots of stinky kids out there,” he quipped. “Fast forward four years,” he added, “and we’re continuing to grow steadily month-over-month.”
Product formulation and development process
To develop Kobi Deodorant for kids and teens, Owen first focused on what ingredients should be eliminated to avoid irritating a child’s more sensitive skin type. “For our natural deodorant, which was our first product,” he said, “we were really focused on what we should leave out of the product.
As “a child’s skin is thinner than ours and more susceptible to irritants,” he explained, “some common ingredients in adult-focused natural deodorants, such as baking soda, can be sensitizing for kids.” Additionally, “given the prevalence of child allergies these days,” he shared, “we also wanted to make sure we avoided common allergens such as nut oils and artificial fragrance.”
Eventually “after months of research, experimentation, and testing,” as well as “sixty product iterations later, we arrived at a formula that was gentle, stable, and effective,” he said.
Future brand opportunities in the personal care market share
Regarding the current state of the market, “when it comes to personal care products, kids and teens are a largely neglected demographic,” said Owen. “There’s a ton of stuff out there for grown-ups,” he explained, “and tons for babies, but very little in-between.”
The brand is therefore on a mission to take advantage of the opportunity to provide PBC products for an underserved consumer base by “building out a product line that parents can turn to once their kids have graduated from baby products but aren’t yet ready for the more potent grown-up stuff,” he shared.
Moving forward, Kobi’s mission will remain focused on helping “kids look, feel, and play their best,” Owen said. So far, he continued, “we’ve focused on the body odor problem by keeping kids feeling fresh with our deodorant and body wash, but there are many other problems to be tackled.”
For Kobi, the next steps will include “getting into kids’ skin care with our face wash product and others in the works, and we’re also looking at healthier, scalp-friendly hair styling products,” according to Owen. Ultimately, he concluded, “I think we’ve only just scratched the surface of what this brand can be.”