While popular perception would have us believe that when times are tough, consumers use cosmetics to "put their best face forward," the cosmetic and skin care market is not recession proof , according to a recent Mintel press release. While consumers purchase color cosmetics and facial skin care in good times and bad, their behavior is directly influenced by the economy. A recent Mintel survey reveals that the category is improving but not yet thriving.
Just 27% of shoppers surveyed say they made replacement purchases in color cosmetics, but avoided “splurge” products in 2010, down from 33% in 2009. In addition, 39% of those surveyed said they actively looked for sales and tried to only buy products on sale during 2010 versus 45% in 2009.
“Women are really starting to do their research when it comes to making cosmetic and skin care purchases," says Kat Fay, senior beauty analyst, Mintel. "The days when favorite beauty products were simply automatic replacement purchases are gone. Nearly a quarter of respondents claim to shop around more to compare prices, while 16% say they use the Internet more to research prices and products.”
Mintel's survey shows that 57% of women are buying their skin care products at mass merchandisers and 45% buy at drug stores, making these the most popular channels for cosmetic purchasing among women of all ages. This remained relatively unchanged since 2010. However, department and specialty stores saw an increase in traffic for color cosmetics. During the past six months, 23% of Mintel respondents visited department stores followed by Sephora and Ulta (12% and 11%, respectively).
According to Fay, mass merchandisers and drug stores have provided a wider repertoire of branded products, and have been very competitive with their pricing through the ongoing recession. There is also less of a stigma associated with shopping at these mass retailers than years past.
Women aged 35–44 (37%) are the most frequent purchasers of color cosmetics, as many are entering their peak earning years and may be particularly concerned about their professional appearance. Women in this age group are also beginning to see fine lines and other early signs of aging, according to Mintel. As a result, this demographic is likely to purchase more—and a wider variety—of both color cosmetics and facial skin care.