Prestige makeup sales garner solid gains, NPD reports

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — Total sales of prestige makeup experienced healthy gains during the first five months of the year, thanks to trends in dramatic eyes, soft lip shades and bold and bright nail colors, according to new beauty market research by NPD.

Year-to-date — January through May — total prestige makeup sales increased by 9% to $1.4 billion in U.S. department stores, according to the market research company. For the month of May alone, makeup posted its strongest dollar performance (+11%) in the last three years.

Prestige makeup segments (face, eye, lip, sets, other color and nail) all posted healthy sales gains in the first five months. The biggest growth in the prestige makeup category came from the smallest segment (representing only 1% of prestige makeup dollar share). The total nail category, consisting of base coats/top coats, color enamel and nail care, soared 57% in dollar sales, versus January through May 2010. Popular shades year-to-date were a toss between such feminine colors as pink and such mysterious, gothic-like shades as black.

The eye segment gained nearly 10% dollar growth during January through May 2011, compared with the same time period in 2010. Subsegments, such as eye shadow and mascara, both grew 11% in dollar sales, while eyebrow products grew 10%. In mascara, all the products with benefits showed growth. The two benefits that experienced the largest growth in mascara were volume and definition, growing 17% and 14%, respectively.

"The trend in makeup today is all about accentuating. The return in popularity of eye products comes with a shift from strong or playful colors and all-purpose mascaras to products that subtly punctuate and dramatize features around a flawless and yet natural-looking face," NPD VP and senior global industry analyst Karen Grant said.

"The triple play is in eye shadow, eyebrow and mascara. Eyes are defined by eye shadows in nude to neutral shades, offset by defined brows and emphasized with full, striking lashes. This return to ­ sophisticated, subtle drama, which we began to see in the latter half of 2010, plays upon fashion, as well as perfectly complementing the natural trend in face products," Grant added.

In the first five months, lip color posted double-digit dollar growth of 13%, compared with the same time last year, while the once very popular lip gloss segment increased only 1% in dollar sales. Pink was the dominant color, garnering most of the lip color growth in the first five months of the year.

"As consumers continue to gradually emerge from the great recession, the current sentiment among women seems to be 'celebrate your girlhood.' Pink, pink and more pink continues to lead the way in both lip and nail color. The popularity of lip color, a category that had struggled for most of the past decade, suggests that even younger consumers are now seeing these products as a fashionable option to gloss," Grant said.

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