Sign in

Report Shows Prestige Beauty Products Hit By Economy

A new report on the first half of 2009 from the NPD Group shows the toll the recesion has taken on prestige beauty products, breaking out information on skin care, fragrance and makeup sales.

The NPD Group, Inc., a leading market research company, reports first half—January through June—2009 retail sales of U.S. prestige beauty industry, which consisted mostly of products sold in U.S deparment stores, equaled $3.7 billion, an overall dollar decline of 7% versus first half 2008. June 2009 brought the 11th consecutive month of negative prestige beauty performance. Fragrance, makeup and skin care contributed to the dollar decline. While sales struggled overall, there were some positives in each category.


Prestige fragrances in the U.S. posted the steepest loss in first half 2009, declining 10% in dollars versus first half 2008. Women’s and men’s prestige fragrances both posted 10% declines from a year ago.

New fragrance launch sales generated $57 million in first half 2009, but dropped 17% from the prior year, due to the decline in women’s new launch activity (-31%) when compared to the performance of 2008 launches. On the other hand, men’s new launch activity was up 23%.

In addition to the uptick in men’s launch volume, premium price fragrance juices—prestige fragrances priced at $100 and above—rose 9% in dollars and 6% in units. Fragrance juices priced just under the premium price point ($75–99) also posted an increase, up 2% in dollars and 1% in units. These two components of the prestige fragrance category in first half 2009 continue to capture share of the market and account for almost 30% of prestige fragrance sales.

Skin care

U.S. prestige skin care dollar sales declined 6% to $1.2 billion in first half 2009. Despite this being the worst first half for skin care in the past three years, the category had the softest losses of all beauty categories in terms of both dollars and units.

Set & kits and hair were the only segments to show positive dollar growth in first half 2009 with set & kits up 8% in dollars and 8% in units. hair, although modest, had an increase of 1% in dollars and 4% in units. Face, body and sun experienced a weak first half, down in both dollars and units. And while overall new launch dollar volume declined by 4%, with help from a drop-off in new eye product sales, there was an increase in new facial moisturizer sales. This category, which accounted for almost one-fourth of new product sales in first half 2009, posted a dollar increase of 2%.


Makeup sales in U.S. department stores during the first six months of 2009 were $1.5 billion, down 7% in dollars versus first half 2008. Overall segment performance was disappointing in the first six months of 2009. All segments—face, eye, lip, gift sets, other color and nail—posted declines ranging from 3–20%. Perhaps even more disappointing was that 25 in 26 sub-segments in makeup, with the exception of the other eye category, also posted declines in the first half of the year.

Despite the enormous challenges in prestige makeup, new launch activity in a number of categories and premium price face and eye products posted healthy gains. While overall new launch makeup dollar volume dipped 7%, new makeup face product sales grew in both dollar and unit volume, led by double-digit increases (ranging from 11–59%) in foundation, blush, concealer and other face. In the eye segment, new mascara sales posted an increase of 4%, and a positive note for the lip segment, new lip color sales rocketed up 47%.

Relatively small but growing segments of the prestige makeup market are premium price face and eye products. Still niche in size, premium price face products (priced at $50 and above) have almost doubled in volume duringthe past four years and grew 5% in dollars and 2% in units in first half 2009.

“The results in first half 2009 are in many ways a continuation, and perhaps, an escalation of the trends we have been seeing since the start of the 2008 recessionary period,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst with The NPD Group. “As consumers continue to hold tight onto their wallets, the criteria of what products they choose to spend on is increasingly driven by those that they find personally meaningful and worthy of investment. In this challenging retail environment, it can not be overstated how increasingly important it is for manufacturers and retailers to take careful note that there are items that are resonating well with consumers. They need to understand what those products are and see how they can potentially leverage that learning into winning with other beauty categories,” ended Grant.

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group is a leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,700 manufacturers, retailer, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national and local market levels. NPD helps its clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys and wireless. For more information, visit