Jan 20, 2023
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Lipstick effect: UK beauty shoppers still buying premium in Golden Quarter

Jan 20, 2023

Pre-Christmas surveys showed that consumers were cutting back on spending, buying less expensive gifts and looking at more affordable brands in the so-called Golden Quarter due to the cost-of-living crisis. 

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

But that doesn't seem to have hurt premium beauty during the festive shopping season with a new study on Friday showing good growth in the segment.

NPD Group said premium UK beauty sales over Christmas were up “a phenomenal 9.2% on the previous year despite the deepening cost-of-living crisis”.

It suggests that the much talked about ‘lipstick effect’ is being seen. Consumers appear to be treating themselves to small luxuries that may be expensive compared to mass-market beauty products, but still allow shoppers to get something from a luxury label at a relatively low price.

After all, accessories from Chanel, Dior and more might cost hundreds of pounds at the very least, but a lipstick from those brands would give a shopper some change out of £40.

In the last three months of 2022 total premium beauty sales reached £1.181 billion. Significantly, this took Christmas takings above pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to NPD data.

That's a huge turnaround, given how much some beauty categories suffered during the pandemic — especially colour cosmetics — as mask wearing and working from home meant they were less important to consumers

Figures from the research specialist also support buoyant Christmas trading updates that have come from a raft of beauty companies, including Boots, Superdrug, Space NK, The Perfume Shop, and The Fragrance Shop.

NPD said the segment’s growth was “much higher than other retail sectors”.

So what exactly were consumers buying. There were double-digit increases in haircare (+24.7%), make-up (+16.9%, with lipstick along up 22%), and skincare (+10.6%), while women’s fragrance rose 8.3% and men's fragrance 4%. 

The performance for the sector at Christmas bodes well for 2023, as it appears that even at times when consumers are cutting back, they still want to get the premium beauty fix.

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