Hope Buds in U.S. Prestige Beauty

By Larissa Jensen, VP, Industry Advisor, Beauty, The NPD Group | 06.11.20

While the market remains challenged, certain products—and ‘a new category’—are showing upticks in sales. Here's what was most in demand during 'lockdown.'

Allergy season aside, spring is a glorious time of year. The beauty of newly budding flowers and trees combined with longer days and warmer weather fills many of us with the promise of new beginnings.

After months of quarantine, states around the country are beginning to reopen, and some of us are starting to reemerge from our cocoons to cautiously resume life as we knew it, albeit in a different way – mostly with protective face masks and social distancing. What does this transformation mean for beauty?

Much like nature, beauty has gone through a cycle with some elements of winter—a cold, dark, and dreary time—with nearly every segment in double-digit declines. But even in our darkest moment we saw sparks of light, with products focused on self-care defying industry declines and shining bright with growth.

As beauty moves through an early phase of recovery, a new season of promise is emerging, and additional areas of the market are beginning to bud.

Beauty Sales During the Pandemic Lockdown

Weekly data has many stories to tell and finding the blooms requires a little creativity. While the U.S. prestige beauty market remains challenged when compared to last year, the blooms emerge when we look at week-over-week sales.

In the six weeks from April 5 through May 16, NPD data shows that the total U.S. prestige beauty industry averaged +6% week-over-week sales growth.

All categories posted growth, with makeup sales +2%, skincare +3%, and hair +11%. It’s only fitting that the biggest blooms of all stemmed from fragrance, which proved it remains the most giftable beauty category as Mother’s Day boosted its overall performance during this six-week period.

Fragrance averaged +22% week-over-week growth, with all segments of juices, gift sets, and ancillaries also averaging double-digit increases during this time. Mom was definitely showered with scent on her special day!

Face Masks Require Swapping Lip Color for Brow Makeup & Mascara

Smaller buds during this time period included products like eyebrow makeup, mascara, and false lashes – all either matching or outpacing the +6% average growth during the past six weeks.

Not surprisingly, these are exactly the products needed to provide a more dramatic “smize” (smiling eyes) while wearing protective face masks. Bronzer, highlighters, and alternative lip products like lip oils and tinted balms also rose over the past six weeks, along with hair styling products like hair gels.

The road ahead of us may be lined with flowering trees, but it is a long one. While the blossoms of springtime provide hope for a better tomorrow, it will be important to stop and smell the proverbial roses along the way and remember that the heart of our industry – our consumer – needs the escape that beauty provides more than ever. Retailers and brands that stand ready to provide that escape, will bloom.

Larissa Jensen is Vice President, Industry Advisor, Beauty, The NPD Group—and a member of Beauty Packaging’s Board of Advisors. Follow Larissa on Twitter.     
Photos Above

'Glam' face mask makeup by carlacalvo8 via Instagram  / By Kilian's Love Don't Be Shy fragrance via Sephora 
Tune In

On June 23, 2 pm ET, NPD's Larissa Jensen will be a part of our panel discussion, Prestige Beauty: Today and Tomorrow--What are consumers looking for, and how can prestige brands deliver? Find out more and register here.

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