Category shifts are altering trends in prestige cosmetics

Data confirms that sectors such as fragrance are outperforming skincare while lines between makeup and skincare are blurring

The year 2015 marked a turning point for the beauty industry, driven largely by shifts within skincare and the heightened importance of Millennials, according to data from global information company, The NPD Group, released in March.

Today, the fragrance category is outperforming skincare; skincare and wellness are becoming more intertwined; anti-ageing is becoming less prominent, with lines blurring between makeup and skincare. For the first time, the fragrance category has contributed more annual dollar gains than skincare. Add to that the fact that skincare’s growth came from online sales, while brick-and-mortar sales declined. This shift is being driven by the changing preferences of Millennials, the generation which now outnumbers the Boomers. In 2015, NPD found that young Millennials are using more fragrance and less facial skincare products.

Favoured brands

Brands with a natural and/or clinical orientation now represent the largest combined share of prestige skincare sales and account for all category gains. In particular, NPD found that Millennial users are most likely to seek products with doctor endorsements and natural/organic ingredients.

Topical products aside, the latest skincare micro-trend is in products that work from the inside out. Walking the line between health routines and skincare regimens, dollar sales of face supplements have grown more than five fold over the past two years, becoming a USD4.1 million (AED15.6 million) market in 2015.

Anti-ageing skincare sales are dwindling as consumers’ skincare focus has shifted from correction and prevention, to where it is today: preparation. For the first time in two years, age specialist products experienced a decline in dollar sales.

While primary care categories including facial cleansers and exfoliators, oil/shine control, toners/clarifyers, and masks saw growth in 2015, the biggest growth areas were in products with an emphasis on complexion preparation. CC creams and makeup primers alone contributed more than USD490 million to the industry in 2015, growing 58 per cent over two years.

Strong categories

Skincare and makeup now share common goals among consumers, and benefits sought for one category can be applied to the other. NPD’s facial skincare study found that 72 per cent of product users report they “use skincare products to look the best I can for my age”, while almost the same percentage, 76 per cent, of makeup product users report they “use makeup products to look the best I can for my age”.

While the top appearance benefits skincare users seek include evening skin tone, lightening spots/discoloration and brightening complexion, makeup products offering these ‘skincare’ benefits were among the category’s best performers, in the form of contouring makeup – one of the hottest beauty trends of the year.


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