Judging by our annual research, it appears that this year’s Top 20 Global Beauty Companies may have worked harder than ever to increase sales in a competitive environment. According to L’Oréal, the global cosmetics market was worth more than $215 billion in 2016, with growth of about 4% over the previous year. While not all of our Top 20 reached their financial objectives, business remained strong despite factors such as regional political and currency uncertainties and consumers’ lack of loyalty as they pursue ever-more efficacious products that look pretty and deliver Instagram-worthy results.
In 2016, the worldwide beauty market, in general, was boosted by the strengthening of e-commerce, as well as sales in China. At The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC)—now tied at No. 3 on this year’s Top 20 list—sales of beauty products online were up 33% across the board, and accounted for 20% of total corporate sales. In China, all of ELC’s 29 brands posted double-digit growth in online sales, with e-commerce jumping by 50% over the previous year.
A Year of Buyouts
With the surge in online retail came the challenges to brick-and mortar-outlets. In addition, legacy cosmetic manufacturers faced stiff competition from Internet-savvy direct-to consumer brands—and Indies expanded their influence. Both established brands and startups jockeyed for Millennial beauty fans and, in an effort to learn the social ropes from younger brands, several of the Top 20 made some big deals with smaller players, including IT Cosmetics, Too Faced, Becca, Laura Mercier, Hourglass and Dollar Shave Club. And of course, Coty paid nearly $12 billion for 41 P&G beauty brands, and Revlon bought Elizabeth Arden.
K-Beauty Makes a Push
K-Beauty continued to gain traction, raising AmorePacific to the No. 9 slot on our list for the first time, and bringing it closer to its goal of becoming a major player in the global beauty market. For 2016, AmorePacific Group reported an 18.3% increase in sales over the previous year, with sales in overseas markets jumping 35%.
Transparency and Sustainability
With the drive toward transparency triggered by the Internet, consumer concerns such as sustainability, have become mainstream. Nearly all those on our Top 20 list laid out plans to pump up initiatives—in many cases, with product packaging, such as developing bottles made of 100% PCR PET plastic. Similar to pledges by L’Oréal and P&G, Unilever announced that all of its plastic packaging will be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
What does the future hold for beauty brand manufacturers? With so many acquisitions in the cosmetic, fragrance and skin care realm in place, can hair care be far behind? Just ask J&J, which acquired AGX; and Unilever, which placed bets on prestige brand Living Proof. Rounding out its Prestige portfolio, with its purchase of Hourglass in the Cosmetics sector, Unilever recently announced a deal to acquire Carver Korea, called “the fastest-growing skincare business in South Korea,” for 2.27 billion euro. As you read through this report, you’ll note the impressive work achieved by a number of brands in regard to skincare R&D—any of which may have game-changing “Fountain of Youth” potential.
In these quick-moving mega-deal times, corporate standings can change in a heartbeat. At press time, L’Oreal’s future was under scrutiny regarding Nestlé’s 23% stake in the French cosmetics firm following the death of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. And rumors swirled that The Estée Lauder Companies, still largely controlled by its founding family, may be on the verge of accession by another large global player such as No. 1, 2 or 4 on our Top 20 list: L’Oréal, Unilever or P&G. If completed, such a sale is estimated at around $40 billion. ELC responded with a strong statement that denied any interest in such a transaction. Still, in this beauty world’s current state of flux, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
Just a note on the compilation of this report: Companies were analyzed based on 2016 data. Beauty sales included only cosmetics, fragrance and personal care items when possible. Figures for companies outside the U.S. were based on the exchange rate for the fiscal year on the day it ended. Estimates are provided in cases where full disclosure was not available.
|1. L’Oréal||$27.2 billion|
|2. Unilever||$21.3 billion|
|3. Estée Lauder Cos.||$11.8 billion|
|4. P&G||$11.8 billion|
|5. Coty||$7.7 billion|
|6. Shiseido||$7.3 billion|
|7. Beiersdorf||$5.9 billion|
|8. Johnson & Johnson||$5.9 billion|
|9. AmorePacific||$5.6 billion|
|10. Kao||$5.3 billion|
|11. LVMH||$5.2 billion|
|12. L Brands||$4.6 billion (est.)|
|13. Avon||$4.1 billion|
|14. Henkel||$4 billion|
|15, Mary Kay||$3.5 billion|
|16. Colgate-Palmolive||$3 billion|
|17. Chanel||$2.8 billion (est.)|
|18. Natura||$2.4 billion|
|19. Revlon||$2.3 billion|
|20. Kose||$2.3 billion|