Online Exclusive: Going for the Gold

The 2012 London Olympics resulted in a prestige beauty boost in the UK.

By June Jensen, director for NPD Group Beauty UK

There’s more than one way to package a product, as the “glamazons” of this year’s London Olympics proved only too well. Buffed, beautiful and sporting the kind of nail art usually associated with celebrities, the female Olympians went for beauty gold, as they proved that sport really can be a glamorous game.

From the athleticism of the poster girl of the Games—Jessica Ennis—to the shiny locks of cyclist Victoria Pendleton, this year’s Olympic winners have also been snapped up by beauty brands keen to associate their products with a package of health and glamour. And there’s no doubt that this summer’s glamorous Games have given the prestige beauty market a real boost. During the London 2012 Olympics, the UK’s prestige beauty market grew by 6% in value compared to the same period last year, and nails have had a special part to play in that success.

As consumers followed the Olympic themed nail art trend, sales of prestige nail makeup went from a modest 5% growth year-on-year in the two weeks before the Games, to an increase of 19% by the time of the closing ceremony. The nail trend was also an accessible one; a touch of affordable luxury and a sign of their support for the Games for women who might be on a restricted budget in tough economic times. Skincare, fragrance and make-up also benefitted from the glamorous Games.

Fueled by the Olympics' nail art trend, NPD reports that sales of prestige nail makeup grew.
NPD Group’s research shows that the Olympics generated a £2.9 million boost to the total prestige beauty market, compared to the same period in 2011.

But the boost to the beauty market didn’t end with the closing ceremony. The positive impact extended to the two weeks following the Games, when the market still showed a £1.83 million increase in value year-on-year. As with other well-packaged products, the boost to prestige beauty market sales from the Olympics was the result of a high profile launch, celebrity, a quality product and consumer enthusiasm.

As the host city for the Games, London benefitted more than the rest of the UK from the increase in prestige beauty sales, possibly due to the re-vamp of many beauty halls in London stores, where product launches were supported with events and promotions.

NPD shows how the prestige beauty market grew during the London Olympics 2012.
However, while London undoubtedly reaped greater rewards than other regions from the Olympics’ boost to the beauty market, with a year on year increase of 8% in both prestige beauty and skincare and a whopping 12% increase in makeup sales, the ripple effect from the Games also spread out to the rest of the UK. NPD data shows a year on year increase during the Games of 5% for prestige beauty, 4% for both fragrance and skincare and once again, a big boost of 9% for makeup sales.

There’s no doubt that this year’s Games provided a real boost for the prestige beauty market in the UK and part of that success may not have been about packaging, but it was about offering consumers a complete package. The Games were about sport, success, fun and glamour. As a package it was pretty powerful. For two weeks this summer, it was the only brand in town.
About the author: June Jensen, director for NPD Group Beauty UK. The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. For more information, or follow them on