Fewer Women Are Buying Beauty Products, NPD Study Finds

All in all, the prestige beauty industry brought in $11.2 billion last year. But 2014 had the fewest people buying beauty products in the last six years.
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Eliza Brooke
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All in all, the prestige beauty industry brought in $11.2 billion last year. But 2014 had the fewest people buying beauty products in the last six years.
Photo: Imaxtree

Photo: Imaxtree

After reporting in late January that color cosmetics for lips and eyes are winning big at beauty counters, NPD Group is back with more good news for makeup brands. Across the U.S. prestige beauty market, which raked in $11.2 billion in 2014, spending on makeup grew the most — 6 percent, well ahead of fragrance and skincare at 2 and 1 percent, respectively. Overall, spending on prestige beauty products grew 3 percent. 

Just one caveat: the number of women shopping for those items took a dip. In fact, 2014 represented the lowest volume of people buying beauty products in six years. According to NPD beauty analyst Karen Grant, that may be because people are finding the happiness associated with beauty products elsewhere.

"This ‘elsewhere’ is in other products and services, as well as experiences," she says. "Consumers today are not just pursuing ‘products for me,’ so much as they are seeking ‘experiences for us.’" 

In today's editorial landscape, health and fitness come intertwined with conversations about beauty. If a yoga class and a green juice give you the same glow as a face mask and a sweep of blush, might consumers not think of them as swappable expenses?

"It stands to reason that health and wellness is becoming a greater part of the beauty consumer’s consideration," Grant said in an e-mail to Fashionista. "Also, we do know that health and wellness is of greater concerns to women aged 45+ and that those women tend to be the most engaged in the beauty category. Specifically, we see that the beauty consumer is less likely to cut her spending on a wide range of products, services and experiences. Less are cutting products such as apparel and personal electronics, services such as beauty treatments, and experiences such as vacations, dining out and entertainment."

So women just have a lot of alternate avenues to spend their money. This isn't to say that they're are getting over the instant gratification of a face-brightening lipstick any time soon, though. Lip color was a big driver for makeup, with pink (not red) taking the lead. 

While makeup sales took off in 2014, spending on skincare — which has gotten so much attention over the last few years — grew just 1 percent. That doesn't mean it's not relevant anymore; as Grant said in a statement, women still want to "feel confident about their 'I woke up like this' look." But after a hot-ticket period, perhaps interest had to cool off somewhat.

Or maybe she just has better places to invest her money.