Nearly 6 Million Fewer Women in U.S. Shopped for Beauty in 2014, NPD Group Finds

Greater Emotional Connection to Other Experiences Likely Plays into Beauty Consumer-Industry Relationship

Port Washington, NY, March 3, 2015 – The majority of U.S. women, 8 out of 10, shop for beauty products, but a 4 percent drop in 2014 brought the industry to its lowest level of shoppers since 2008, according to the Annual Beauty Consumer Economic Indicator, the latest beauty report from global information company The NPD Group.

“Consumer attitudes have changed, and beauty is viewed differently than it was in years past. Today, there is more competition among beauty brands and retailers, and more competition between beauty and other products, services, and even experiences, such as vacations, entertainment, and dining. The consumer's desires outside of beauty have become just as important as those inside,” said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group.

NPD found that women continue to have a strong emotional connection to beauty products. Over the past seven years, the top driver for purchasing has been to feel confident, followed by feeling sexy. Most beauty shoppers are moderately engaged in the category, reporting they “regularly put some effort into their appearance so that they at least look presentable.”

The study found an important dichotomy when looking at beauty shoppers’ attitudes toward shopping and purchasing in today’s economy. While about 50 percent of women report beauty products are the first thing they would cut back on if money got tight, an almost equal proportion say they would continue to buy beauty products in such a situation because the products make them feel better about themselves. Similarly, nearly half of women indicate they usually shop for beauty products that are on sale, while the other half reports that price is not the most important factor when shopping for beauty products.      

The contrast continues when looking at individual categories. Spending cuts in makeup and fragrance occur 1.5 times as often as in skincare and hair care, because the products are seen as “for special occasions;” however, if women were given an extra $100 of disposable income to spend on beauty, most would purchase makeup or fragrance products.   

“These distinct differences among beauty shoppers keep us, as an industry, on our toes and can also be seen as a positive because they pose a big opportunity for the industry,” added Grant. “If the industry responds to the consumer in new and exciting ways, these opportunities will drive growth in 2015.”


An online survey was fielded in November 2014 to a nationally representative sample of women aged 18+ from NPD’s online panel, who were screened as beauty shoppers.

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