Bold Looks and Key Demographic Divergences Ignite the U.S. Personal Care Market


New trends in nail care, dramatic eye looks and the appeal of limited edition scents significantly bolstered sales in the 2011 U.S. personal care market, which exceeded $38 billion at the manufacturers' level, surpassing pre-recession levels and representing robust growth of 4.2%, according to the recent Cosmetics & Toiletries USA report from global consulting and research firm Kline & Company.

Makeup sales comfortably exceeded the industry average growth rate, boosted by an astonishing near 30% growth of the nail polishes subcategory in 2011. The magnitude of this growth was partly caused by the emergence of new trends, including bold colors and special effects that attracted women of all demographics. The category was additionally augmented by innovation in application techniques, which could be seen in products such as Sally Hansen Salon Effects and Nail Inc.'s Magnetic Polish.

Eye makeup, supported by the season's popular "smoky-eye" look, saw a strong increase in 2011. Eye shadow, eye liner, and mascara, all used to complete the dramatic eye look, contributed to the growth seen in all trade classes.

After several years of declining sales, fragrances for women experienced high growth in 2011 as more consumers turned to fragrances as an affordable indulgence. The luxury trade class in particular experienced above-average growth of more than 10%, where niche fragrances were a new trend in 2011. Limited distribution scents from brands such as Bond No. 9, Creed, and By Kilian gained high visibility during the period. Conversely, celebrity scents saw substantial declines.

Looking at the usage of cosmetics and toiletries by specific demographic groups, Kline's consumer research has found that a higher percentage of Hispanics use perfume or cologne regularly, at 56% of all Hispanics, as compared to 32% of the non-Hispanic population. Furthermore, about half of African Americans use perfumes or colognes regularly, as compared to one-third of Caucasians and Asians in the United States.

The ever-resilient skin care product class, dominated by facial treatments, remains the largest product class. Men's skin care became more popular, seeing the best growth in several years and now offering expanded product lines exploring new applications by creating solutions for men, such as concealers, products free of parabens, formaldehydes, dyes, and added fragrances.

The cosmetics and toiletries market continued its upward trend due to an especially strong performance in the luxury class, which saw nearly double-digit growth. Analysis also reveals that all trade classes posted gains in 2011. "The comparatively low growth in the professional class correlates with the greater trend we're observing with consumers' relatively moderate expenditure on professional services," explains Nancy Mills, Kline's Consumer Practice Industry Manager. "And yet, driven by 'frugal-fatigue' and a rising financial confidence, consumers are compensating by purchasing premium products as affordable luxuries driving sales in the luxury and mass trade classes."

Looking ahead, Kline projects skin care and makeup to maintain exceptionally high growth over the next five years. Additionally, Mills expects the dominating drivers in personal care to be multi-functional products that deliver promised results, a gradual replacement of harsh synthetic chemicals with more natural-derived products, and an adoption of a more overt environmentally responsible profile.

These trends are examined in Kline's recently published Cosmetics & Toiletries USA report. As an authoritative and comprehensive annual survey on the U.S. cosmetics and toiletries industry, this high-value study contains information on cosmetics and toiletries market size, retail sales, channel breakdowns, trends, and forecasts for 26 major product categories in addition to detailed profiles of 29 leading marketers.

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