A Holiday Feast in Beauty: Consumers Indulge in Select Categories Across the Industry

Port Washington, NY, December 15, 2016 – The U.S. prestige beauty industry is off to a slightly slower start this holiday season, with year-to-date sales up 6 percent through October, or 1 percentage point less than this time last year, according to global information company The NPD Group; however, this should not be interpreted as discouraging news. It is a case of ‘feast or famine’ for the industry this holiday season, and while consumers may not indulge in every makeup, fragrance, and skincare category, they will have more than their fill when it comes to others.

“A binge mentality is taking hold within the beauty industry. This began with makeup, as more consumers are using more products than we have ever seen. The mentality is moving into skincare, as consumers look to prepare the face and lips to be makeup ready. In fragrance, consumers crave fresh and wholesome experiences, and are treating themselves to the products that satisfy this taste,” said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group. “While sales show the industry moving at a slower pace so far this holiday season, consumers will binge on a number of categories through December, and the industry will still experience growth in the fourth quarter.”

Can’t Get Enough Makeup
Much of the buzz generated online, especially on social media, has created prominence of categories across makeup. Driving much of the gains are brows (+35 percent), lip color (+21 percent), and other face products including contouring and sculpting kits (+33 percent).

“As the foremost appearance category of beauty, makeup has been the leader of industry gains and the source drawing consumers into the beauty industry,” said Grant. “Makeup fourth quarter sales have outsold fragrance sales for the last two years, and this is likely to happen again this holiday season.”

A Modern Spin on Classic Fragrances
Looking at the prestige fragrance category, it is the popularity of traditional flankers that is particularly potent. Dollar sales of these existing fragrances reinvented grew 18 percent year-to-date through October compared to 2015, outpacing the overall fragrance market’s 2 percent growth. A prominent example which launched this fall and just in time for the holidays is the Chanel No. 5 spinoff, No. 5 L’eau.

“New and lighter designer classics reimagined for a younger generation will spark the fragrance category this holiday season,” said Grant.

Scenting Beyond the Body
The home scents category is growing at an 18 percent pace so far in 2016, and all of its segments are experiencing growth, including candles (+14 percent) and diffusers (+21 percent). This category is especially important around the holidays, as data from NPD’s Scentiments found that home fragrance is most important to consumers when company is expected. At the same time, home scents are likely to make popular gift items, as sales of home ancillary gift sets are up 44 percent.     

“In fragrance, consumer engagement continues to expand to embrace the personal and holistic experience beyond the body. Scent engagement is no longer just a singular, individual encounter, but a shared experience in the home,” said Grant.

The Little Things in Skincare
The topline trends reveal a fraction of what is happening within the prestige skincare market, as it is specific segments below the surface that consumers are turning to for their appearance needs. These growth drivers include lip treatment (+22 percent), masks (+22 percent), and other face products including complexion treatments (+13 percent).

“In skincare, primary care and prevention bond with makeup preparation to offset losses from the continued declines in anti-aging. The little categories we once ignored or overlooked are now the giants of growth in skincare,” said Grant.


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, January-October 2016

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