Faced with mounting economic turmoil, beauty sales aren’t faltering yet.
According to data from Circana, prestige beauty sales reached $6.6 billion during the first quarter, up 16 percent from the same period last year (and so continuing 2022’s trend of double-digit increases within each category).
Mass beauty also continued to swell, ringing in $7 billion in sales — a 10 percent increase versus the same period last year. Each category within the mass channel saw double-digit dollar sales increases, with the exception of hair care, which grew 7 percent.
It’s worth noting, though, that while the growth in prestige beauty sales has been largely due to increasing unit sales, mass beauty sales by contrast grew mainly thanks to rising average prices driven by inflation.
“On the prestige side of the business, we’re not seeing these big huge swings in average price, whereas in the mass market, average prices for almost every category is up double digits,” said Circana’s vice president of beauty Larissa Jensen.
While all categories saw overall unit sales grow during the first quarter, in the mass market specifically, only makeup and fragrance grew in units as well as dollar sales; mass skin care unit performance was “relatively flat, and hair care had a small decline in units,” said Jensen.
Makeup led the charge as the fastest-growing category in both prestige and mass beauty, rising 24 percent and 15 percent in sales, respectively, and accounting for roughly one-third of total beauty sales. And, consistent with the so-called “Lipstick Index,” lip makeup remained the fastest-growing prestige makeup segment, growing 43 percent, with designer brands seeing even steeper gains.
“We’re seeing a lot more trading up in makeup, where designer brands are performing better than the market overall in prestige,” said Jensen, noting that the opposite effect has been steadily taking hold in skin care (in which sales grew about 11 percent in prestige, versus 10 percent in mass). She says the phenomenon is mainly fueled by increasing consumer education thanks to TikTok, and the many widely followed skin care experts inhabiting the platform.
“The industry has been democratized in many ways by the influx of social media — once a consumer knows they don’t need to spend a lot on a skin care product, and that they can buy a mass product that is actually going to work on your skin, they’re going to do that,” said Jensen. Cetaphil, La-Roche Posay and CeraVe are among the mass brands that have all benefited from this trend in recent years.
Fragrance sales grew 15 percent and 13 percent in the prestige and mass markets, respectively, with prestige fragrance sizes under 1 ounce accounting for nearly 40 percent of unit sales — a three-point increase versus last year — as consumers increasingly opt for on-the-go convenience.
While the mass market accounts for nearly three-quarters of total hair care sales, prestige hair care sales continued to grow faster during the first quarter (11 percent sales growth versus 7 percent). In particular, leave-in treatments and hair products that addressed thinning, scalp health and heat protection outperformed the overall category.