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The Face of Skin Care

By: Carrie Lennard
Posted: September 29, 2011, from the October 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Many of the beauty categories that performed poorly in 2009 returned to growth in 2010. Discretionary categories saw this return following weaker sales than necessity categories—such as oral care, and bath and shower—experienced during the recession. Skin care remains the most important category in the global beauty and personal care market, accounting for a 23% share of total value sales in 2010. It is set to be by far the fastest-growing and largest beauty category, exceeding $100 billion by 2015. Color cosmetics also saw its value growth performance improve from 3% in 2009 to 6% in 2010; the sort of growth rate that was last seen before the recession in 2007.

Shift toward emerging markets

Although the skin care industry has been driven for many years by Western Europe, the United States and Japan, growth in these markets has slowed considerably, and is set to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The United States, which contributed just less than $1 billion to global facial skin care growth during 2005–2010, is on course to add far less—$608 million—during 2010–2015. Meanwhile, the Japanese market, which contributed $83 million during 2005–2010, is set to contract $272 million by 2015. Although there are still solid opportunities in these traditional markets, future growth in facial skin care will be driven overwhelmingly by a new breed of emerging markets.

Necessity positioning key to success

In order to gain status as a must-have product in facial skin care, it doesn’t simply have to be the least expensive. Facial skin care remains a highly emotive purchase for many consumers, especially when it comes to age prevention. Although global skin care value growth slowed to 3% at the height of the recession in 2009, anti-aging products remained the star performers, expanding by 6% in 2009. This performance was bettered in 2010, with global value growth rising to 7%. This adds substance to the belief that most global consumers will sacrifice spending on many other areas of consumer goods before they will alter their attempts to maintain a youthful appearance. This explains why many luxury anti-aging products put in consistently good performances during and beyond the downturn.

Conversely, the performance of toners globally has been consistently weak in recent times. Global value growth in toners has not exceeded 1% since 2006, and growth in 2010 was flat at 0%. This is because more and more consumers consider them nonessential. Many skip this stage of the skin care regimen.

Premium cosmetics seeing healthy value growth

All regions that suffered a decline in the sales of premium cosmetics in 2009 managed to recover in 2010. Eastern Europe almost returned to pre-recession levels of growth (+11% in 2008) as the economy bounced back, and Russia’s consumer spending recovered, fueled by increased government expenditure, solid returns in the banking sector and a fall in the unemployment rate.