Skin care gets down to basics to carry prestige

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. —Basic skin care specifically geared toward those with sensitive skin was a bright spot in the battered U.S. prestige beauty market in 2009, and actually outperformed anti-aging growth for the first time, according to recent research by market research company the NPD Group.

According to NPD, total U.S. prestige beauty, defined as products mainly sold in U.S. department stores, receded to $8.19 billion in 2009, a loss of 6% compared with 2008. “2009 was indeed a very challenging year for the beauty industry,” stated Karen Grant, VP and global industry analyst for NPD. “And now in 2010, the reality is that business will still be challenging. The other absolute reality is that consumers—as many as 3-in-5 women—tell NPD they are buying beauty products because ‘they make me feel confident’ and ‘even in these tough economic times, I will still buy beauty products because they make me feel better about myself.’ As our consumers increasingly seek the best product for the price, or the best price for the product, we must continue to stay focused on what will increase our relevance to them.”

The prestige skin care category, which posted its first year of declines, was down 4% in dollar sales to $2.47 billion. While the category struggled overall, skin care was the only beauty category to see growth in fourth quarter 2009, up 2% in dollar sales. The key driver to the quarter’s results was basic skin care, which saw positive growth.

Total sales of fragrance were $2.48 billion in 2009, down 10% in both men’s and women’s. One segment that performed slightly better than the overall market: fragrance gift sets. Fragrance gift sets dropped the least, down 8% in women’s and 5% in men’s. This was offset somewhat by the increase in average price, reaching an average of $64.50 for both genders. Meanwhile, in fragrance juices, sales of smaller sizes (1 oz. and under) worked favorably for both men’s and women’s fragrances.

U.S. prestige beauty industry** Prestige beauty is fragrance, makeup and skin care sold mainly in U.S. department stores† In billions° Product with purchaseSource: The NPD Group/BeautyTrends
 Dollars†Dollar Share% Change 2009 vs. 2008
Total beauty$8.19100%-6%
Total fragrance2.4830-10
Total skin care2.4730-4
Total makeup3.1639-5

Prestige makeup experienced its second year of declines, down 5% in dollars to $3.16 billion. The only two segments to outperform the category were gift sets (up 2%), fueled by new face-focused sets, and the face segment (down 2%), which was driven by mineral-based products. This was aided in part by the fact that 50% more new mineral products were introduced in 2009. “It is important to point out that prestige only captures a small slice of the mineral makeup pie, but this product remains a big focus and a major driver of the face segment in prestige,” Grant added.

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