From Lashes to Brows: Eye-opening Trends in Cosmetics

FMCG and Retail | 09-28-2018

The beauty industry is one driven by fast-moving trends. What’s popular one minute, may be behind the times less than a month later. Still, Nielsen research has found that three key macro trends are shaping the beauty industry: natural, personal and connected. But for brands and marketers, connecting with consumers requires understanding trends at a channel and category level.  

During the 12 months ended Sept. 22, 2018, health and beauty care overall has reported 2% dollar growth and 0.2% growth in units sold across all Nielsen’s total U.S. all outlets combined (xAOC) channels. While this limited growth at the broader all-outlet level is positive for the industry as a whole, challenges to sales and volume consumption are more apparent at the outlet level. In fact, health and beauty care has seen unit volume declines of 1% and 2% across U.S. grocery and drug stores, respectively. This points to consumers’ greater reliance on value channels such as dollar, club and mass merchandise for health and beauty products.

While the 2% all-outlet growth for health and beauty may not sound like that much, it equates to more than $1.6 billion in revenue above rates of a year ago. For the most part, health and personal care items, such as vitamins, supplements, bath and shower products, are driving the bulk of positive performance. Cosmetics and nail grooming, on the other hand, remain an area that’s plateaued, struggling to find growth year-over-year.

According to Nielsen’s Friday morning data for the week ended Sept. 22, 2018, sales of cosmetics and nail grooming products totalled $149 million, which stands nearly $4 million (or 2%) below sales of the same week last year.

But not all sales are down across cosmetics. False eyelashes are driving outsized growth in the category. Sales of lashes are up 21% in dollars and 10% in units for the week ended Sept. 22, 2018, alone. And over the past year, sales have soared to nearly $270 million, up 31% in dollars and 15% in unit volume.

The halo effect of this growth is extending not just to false lashes but also to eyelash treatments and brow cosmetics. In fact, within the eye cosmetics subcategory, eyelash treatments and eyebrow products are seeing the fastest growth, up by an impressive 32% and 24% in dollar growth, respectively.

Despite the growth of eyelash and eyebrow treatments, annual sales of eye cosmetics have slowed, with sales declining slightly by 0.4%. These micro areas of growth underscore the importance of aligning ones product portfolio with the specific needs of makeup enthusiasts today. Compared to steep declines across eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara, the continued shift towards accentuating lashes and brows has brought much needed growth to eye cosmetics.    

We’ll continue to keep an “eye” on whether this upward trend in eyelashes will last.

Insights from this article were fueled by Nielsen Friday morning data delivery, the earliest FMCG market read available. Learn more about Friday morning data delivery.

NOTE: Data in this article represents all Nielsen-measured channels excluding convenience stores.

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