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NPD, SymphonyIRI unveil Q1 beauty sales trends

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — Total U.S. beauty sales in both the food/drug/mass and prestige channels experienced similar trends in first quarter 2011, according to market research providers NPD and SymphonyIRI, although makeup sales fared slightly better within the food/drug/mass channel.

According to the results of the research firms' partnered product, the Beauty Cross Channel Monitor, total U.S. beauty sales in the prestige and food/drug/mass channels realized similar gains in first quarter 2011 (January through March), up 5% and 4%, respectively. But while makeup sales similarly trended upward, a slightly different story was told, with the food/drug/mass channel faring better than prestige due in part to the double-digit sales in the $127 million nail segment.

The Beauty Cross Channel Monitor is the U.S. beauty industry's first and only point-of-sale tracking product that looks at sales performance in department stores (prestige) and the food, drug and mass market, excluding Walmart.

"Despite the current economic situation, the beauty industry continues to trend upward, showing growth for the fourth consecutive quarter in both the food/drug/mass and prestige channels," NPD beauty president Diane Nicholson said. "After a positive yet cautious 2010, it's encouraging to see consumers continue to embrace newness and innovation in the beauty space."

According to NPD's Economy Tracker, 35% of consumers planned to maintain or increase their spending in cosmetics and fragrances for first quarter 2011, up two percentage points from last year. This is despite the fact that consumers also are dedicating a larger percentage of their wallets to gas and groceries, as prices of these categories rise.

In fragrance, the prestige market (roughly five times larger than the food/drug/mass market) grew by 6% during the first quarter 2011 versus flat sales in the food/drug/mass channel. The increase in prestige fragrance is due to the positive performance in top existing brands, as well as strong sales from 2010 fragrance introductions.

In skin care, the food/drug/mass channel is triple the size of the prestige channel, yet prestige trended better, up 6% versus 3% in food/drug/mass. The face, sun care and gift set segments were key drivers in the growth of prestige skin care.

"Now more than ever, as the beauty consumer evolves and channel shifting continues, the Beauty Cross Channel Monitor is a valuable resource for understanding beauty trends across the prestige and mass markets," SymphonyIRI VP beauty vertical Victoria Gustafson said. "Capitalizing on the dynamics between these channels is a critical component to maximizing brand strategies."

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