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NPD: Lip color gets its groove back

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — The total prestige lip segment rose 7% to $185.2 million in U.S. department stores, with the shining star being lip color, according to beauty market research conducted by NPD.

NPD reported that year-to-date, January through April 2011, the total prestige lip segment — which includes lip color, lip liner, lip gloss and lip applicators — rose 7% to $185.2 million in U.S. department stores and 4% in units to 9.8 million. Lip color took center stage with an increase of 11% in dollars ($92.1 million), compared with January through April 2010.

After almost a decade of declining sales, lip color began to show growth again last year. Since February 2010, lip color has experienced 15 months of steady dollar growth, with seven of those months posting double-digit increases, including April 2011 (up 30%). Annual 2010 results were the first time since 2002 that lip color saw a unit increase, 8%, the highest increase since 1998.

"What is particularly noteworthy of the trend in lip color is that we are seeing these significant increases in sales at a time when overall usage of lip color appeared to be dropping off. Coming out of the recession, it seems that the consumers' thirst for color and play was reawakened," stated Karen Grant, VP and senior global industry analyst for NPD. "In 2010, we saw the preference for rich, as well as retro colors, and in 2011 we are seeing new neutrals come to the fore. As the fashion industry increasingly features bold, as well as understated, lip statements on the runway and in advertisements, lip color appears to be getting its groove back."

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