U.S. sales of cosmetics, toiletries rise above pre-recession levels

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Sales of cosmetics and toiletries in the United States increased 2.4% to $36.5 billion in 2010 — which is above pre-recession levels — thanks to technological advances, promotional activity and rising consumer confidence, according to worldwide consulting and research firm Kline.

While the industry showed signs of recovery, consumers influenced by economic uncertainties continued to scrutinize their spending, shopped at venues with competitive pricing and sought out products on sale. The increased willingness to spend was captivated primarily by offers that provided extra value. Skin care kits, priced more favorably than individual products, and multifunctional products were among the core trends of 2010, according to data from Kline's Cosmetics & Toiletries USA 2010 study.

In 2010, skin care remained the largest product class, accounting for 25% of total industry sales. Thanks to the emergence of high-tech facial treatment offerings, the product class also has remained one of the fastest-growing segments. The industry front-runner was makeup, which registered a 4.4% growth, according to Kline. Lending a strong hand to the success of the makeup category were nail polishes, which soared 20.4% in 2010 because of new product activity, adapted to achieving at-home salon results and easy application.

All trade classes registered a certain level of growth in 2010. While the specialty trade class — which consists mainly of mall-based stores, including Bath & Body Works and The Body Shop — posted the strongest gains, providing a good sign that consumers are back out and shopping again, the professional channel — encompassing salons, spas and physician offices — registered the lowest overall increase of 1.9%.

In the skin care segment, a host of products were introduced during the year that compared their results with those obtained at beauticians' or a doctors' offices. For example, at-home skin care devices used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, as well as tone and cleanse skin, have seen a significant growth in popularity.