Skin and Hair Leapfrog Makeup in Latest Prestige Beauty Sales Numbers

The latest U.S. prestige beauty numbers are out from the NPD Group.
Makeup sales may be growing overall, but certainly not in tracked channels, where they are flat year-over-year; skin care is up 12 percent, with growth coming from clean and natural offerings; fragrance sales are also up, driven potentially by consumer confidence, and hair sales are the break out star, posting a 24 percent leap in sales for the quarter, according to NPD.
"Within makeup, skin care and fragrance, skin care is growing the fastest of the three, but it's also the area where launches aren't really driving it," said Larissa Jensen, NPD's executive director and beauty industry analyst.
In skin, sales are up 12 percent to $1.3 billion, driven by sets and kits — things like discovery kits or travel kits — as well as facial moisturizer, age specialist products and sunscreen. Natural and clean-oriented products continue to drive the category's growth, according to Jensen.
"Growth is really coming from existing products," Jensen said. "Launches are not up in skin care. Fragrance and makeup launches are up double digits….It's interesting to see the success in skin care is coming from products that are already out there."
That shows that "new for the sake of new isn't something the consumer responds to, necessarily," Jensen added.
Makeup, the first category to benefit from transformational Instagram-based makeovers, posted $1.9 billion in sales for the second quarter, flat from the same quarter of 2017. Year to date, performance is still solid, according to NPD's executive director and beauty industry analyst Larissa Jensen, up roughly 4 percent.
"What we're seeing in the marketplace is something we've been talking about for a while — it's greater fragmentation," Jensen said. "There are more options for consumers to purchase quality products. In the past, it was very much about prestige offering the better-quality makeup products."
Today, the growth of influencer and social media content have spread the message that consumers may not have to "pay a ton of money to get quality products," Jensen said.
Plus, sales are moving into untracked channels, like brand web sites.
In makeup, face is the best-performing category, driven by increased sales of concealer, powder and tinted moisturizer. Lip gloss sales were up 10 percent in the quarter, driven by launches, Jensen said. Lip color sales were down 10 percent, compared to a flat performance for 2017. Eye shadow sales were also down.
Mascara is growing — year-to-date, it's up 7 percent, Jensen said, outpacing makeup's year-to-date 6 percent expansion.
"It's still the number-one product women use," Jensen said.
Eyebrow makeup and false eyelashes are also growing.
The potential exists for makeup brands to benefit from the wellness movement in the same way that skin care has, Jensen noted, in touting clean or natural formulations. "Some brands in makeup are leaning into it," Jensen said. "The problem is these digitally native brands are doing a better job of it than the established brands are…it doesn't feel as authentic, potentially."
In fragrance, sales have been up since the 2017 holiday season. In the second quarter, they jumped 7 percent year-over-year, to $910.8 million. Designer fragrances, particularly European designer fragrances, still make up the biggest part of the market, but artisanal and natural fragrances — much smaller segments — are growing faster, Jensen said. Juice sales are up 10 percent in the quarter and 8 percent year-over-year, and home fragrance is up 11 percent.
Year-to-date, fragrance's 10 percent growth "could be softened by a softer holiday," Jensen said, depending on launch strategy. Fragrance sales have continued through all the holidays — Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day — which have been there all along.
"Why now? That's the big question," Jensen said. "One of the things we have seen is the consumer confidence index very high numbers over the course of 2018…that's potentially why."
Artisanal fragrances — often priced significantly higher than traditional prestige fragrances — continue to grow quickly, Jensen said. "It's interesting, because when you think of that dynamic, consumers are willing to invest for a fragrance that's different, that doesn't smell like everybody else, that's a richer formulation, potentially," Jensen said.
An even smaller segment of the market is natural fragrances, which make up about 1 percent of total market sales. "It's outpacing artisanal," Jensen said. "Overall, fragrance tends to be a little slower to the game in terms of the trends, but we're starting to see natural infiltrate fragrances."
In hair, sales are up 24 percent for the quarter, to $178.4 million. While still a small part of the U.S. prestige landscape, Jensen credits hair's lift to the influx of professional brands in prestige channels like department stores and specialty retailers.
"Mass dominates hair," Jensen said. "What's happening in the hair category is these salon-based brands are expanding their distribution.…It makes more sense for them to expand from a salon to a luxury space than from a salon to a CVS."
For more, see: 
How Instagram and a New Zeitgeist Are Driving Skin Care's Growth 
Making Sense of Makeup Sales
Hair Now Fastest-Growing Category in Prestige Beauty
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