By Larissa Jensen
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.
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!
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 VP, industry advisor, beauty, for research firm The NPD Group.