And, the Winner Is…Innovation!

Victoria Gustafson, of SymphonyIRI, says packaging played a major role in the growth of mass cosmetics categories last year.

By Victoria Gustafson

Author Bio: Victoria Gustafson is the leader of the SymphonyIRI Beauty Vertical. During her 15-year career, she has held various key commercial and research roles across a number of industries, with the last three years focused exclusively on the beauty industry.

By any measure, 2010 marked the best year for the mass beauty industry for the last three years. Overall, the total beauty category grew by 3%, and both skin care and hair care showed a respectable 2% growth. Fragrance was almost flat after several years of declines, and cosmetics gained 7% in dollar terms. The top three sub-categories that contributed the most to this growth are all cosmetics, including eye, nail and face. So, how did these sub-categories achieve such growth? The answer is simple: relevant innovation.

At the end of 2010, SymphonyIRI conducted a survey of more than 1,000 core beauty shoppers to assess their attitudes towards beauty and discover how these attitudes changed since 2009. Several themes emerged from this survey loud and clear: Beauty shoppers are looking for quality do-it-yourself products, products with multiple benefits and products that deliver professional results without a professional price tag.

The cosmetics category grew this year because it was able to deliver innovation that capitalized on these consumer needs and created excitement around this innovation. How was it done? By using new formulas, relevant claims, targeted communication, and front-and-center packaging that effectively communicated the products’ features to consumers.

Indeed, 2010 was the year of creative packaging. Forget your assumption about what an eye liner, shadow or nail polish should look like. True innovators could not be bothered by a traditional approach and definitely thought outside the proverbial box last year. For example, 2010’s best-selling new eye liner, Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama, came in a jar; the top-selling new eye shadow, Cover Girl Smokey Shadow Blast, was a convenient dual-ended stick with specially designed contoured ends. Nail polish joined in the action as well with the top new product, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, using bottles previously reserved only for salon products. And, the top-selling new face cosmetics product, Maybelline Instant Age Rewind – The Eraser, used a unique patented micro-corrector applicator. Yes, all of these new launches were quality do-it-yourself products and multiple-benefit products that deliver professional results without a professional price tag or all of the above.

These successful innovators creatively used packaging to support the products’ features, make them stand out on shelf and capture the attention of beauty shoppers, who, after several years of extreme thrift, were really looking for the small indulgence of an incremental purchase. This imaginative approach lifted the moods of consumers and category sales one creatively packaged product at a time.