The vast majority of U.S. women—eight out of 10—shop for beauty products, but a 4% drop in 2014 brought the industry to its lowest level of shoppers since 2008, according to the Annual Beauty Consumer Economic Indicator, the latest beauty report from global information company The NPD Group.
“Consumer attitudes have changed, and beauty is viewed differently than it was in years past," said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst for The NPD Group. "Today, there is more competition among beauty brands and retailers, and more competition between beauty and other products, services and even experiences, such as vacations, entertainment and dining. The consumer's desires outside of beauty have become just as important as those inside.”
The NPD Group found that women continue to have a strong emotional connection to beauty products.
Over the past seven years, the top driver for purchasing has been to feel confident, which has been followed by feeling sexy.
Most beauty shoppers are moderately engaged in the category, noting that they “regularly put some effort into their appearance so that they at least look presentable.”
The study found an important dichotomy when looking at beauty shoppers’ attitudes toward shopping and purchasing in today’s economy. While about 50% of women reported that beauty products are the first thing they would cut back on if money got tight, an almost equal proportion said that they would continue to buy beauty products in such a situation because the products make them feel better about themselves.
Similarly, nearly half of women indicated that they usually shop for beauty products that are on sale, while the other half reported that price isn't the most important factor when shopping for beauty products.
The contrast continues when looking at individual product categories. Spending cuts in makeup and fragrance occur 1.5 times as often as in skin care and hair care—because the products are seen as “for special occasions.” However, if women were given an extra $100 of disposable income to spend on beauty, most noted that they would purchase makeup or fragrance products.
“These distinct differences among beauty shoppers keep us as an industry on our toes and can also be seen as a positive because they pose a big opportunity for the industry,” added Grant. “If the industry responds to the consumer in new and exciting ways, these opportunities will drive growth in 2015.”
The methodology used for these results was an online survey fielded in November 2014 to a nationally-representative sample of women ages 18-years-old and older from The NPD Group’s online panel who were screened as beauty shoppers.
[Image courtesy of The NPD Group]