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The Future Bright for Color Cosmetics Despite Economic Gloom

By: Rob Walker, Euromonitor International
Posted: April 2, 2012, from the April 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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It is, however, an oversimplification to say that color cosmetics are intrinsically more vulnerable to weak discretionary spending power than necessity-driven categories. The implication is that deodorants, for example, ought to have been more insulated in the U.S. and Japan, yet retail sales registered flat performances in both markets.

Baby care, another ostensibly necessity-driven category, also struggled in 2009, with flat growth in the U.S. and a contraction in Japan. Both deodorants and baby care fared better than color cosmetics, but not by much.

Equally, in the midst of the 2008/2009 crisis, there was little to support the so-called “lipstick effect”—a term coined in reference to consumers treating themselves to affordable luxuries, specifically lipstick, during periods of belt-tightening. In both the U.S. and Japan, lipstick was the worst affected category of color cosmetics in 2009, with retail sales dropping by 7% and 4%, respectively.

If there was a lipstick effect during the recent period of global economic crisis, it was visible not in lipstick but in nail polish, which bucked the downward retail trend in the U.S. with cumulative growth of a whopping 46% over the 2007–2010 period, according to Euromonitor International.

Growth of At-home DIY Pampering

Lipstick might not be the best benchmark to measure “treat yourself” consumption, but it would be unwise to discount the concept of affordable indulgence as we enter a new period of austerity. It is noteworthy, for example, that color cosmetics not only returned to growth in the U.S. in 2010 but outperformed deodorants, a staple, with 4% growth versus 2.5%.

Regulations, Stability, Color Aesthetics, and Economics.

Coloring the Cosmetic World: Using Pigments in Decorative Cosmetic Formulations covers the four dimensions to selecting colors for cosmetics. Take note of the chapter on color stability which describes the various colorants you will use in your product and includes a chart listing compatibility of colorants with a number of solvents. Photos rendered in full masstone color!

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