Kline study finds bold looks, key demographic divergences ignite boost in U.S. personal care market


PARSIPPANY, N.J. — New trends in nail care, dramatic eye looks and the appeal of limited-edition scents significantly bolstered sales in the 2011 U.S. personal care market, which exceeded $38 billion at the manufacturers’ level, surpassing pre-recession levels and representing robust growth of 4.2%, according to the recent "Cosmetics & Toiletries USA" report from global consulting and research firm Kline & Co.

Makeup sales comfortably exceeded the industry average growth rate, boosted by a nearly 30% growth of nail polishes in 2011. The magnitude of this growth was partly caused by the emergence of new trends, including bold colors and special effects, that attracted women of all demographics. The category was additionally augmented by innovation in application techniques, which could be seen in such products as Sally Hansen Salon Effects and Nail Inc.’s Magnetic Polish.

Eye makeup, supported by the season’s hot “smoky-eye” look, saw a strong increase in 2011. Eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara, all used to complete the dramatic eye look, contributed to the growth seen in all trade classes.

After several years of declining sales, fragrances for women also experienced high growth in 2011 as more consumers turned to fragrances as an affordable indulgence. The luxury trade class, in particular, experienced above-average growth of more than 10%, where niche fragrances were a new trend in 2011, Kline stated. Limited distribution scents from such brands as Bond No. 9, Creed and By Kilian gained high visibility during the period. Conversely, celebrity scents experienced substantial declines.

Looking at the usage of cosmetics and toiletries by specific demographic groups, Kline’s consumer research found that a higher percentage of Hispanics use perfume or cologne regularly, at 56% of all Hispanics, as compared with 32% of the non-Hispanic population. Furthermore, about half of African-Americans use perfumes or colognes regularly, as compared with one-third of Caucasians and Asians in the United States.

The skin care product class — dominated by facial treatments — remains the largest product class. Men’s skin care became more popular, seeing the best growth in several years and now offering expanded product lines exploring new applications by creating solutions for men — such as concealers, products free of parabens, formaldehydes, dyes and added fragrances — according to Kline.

The cosmetics and toiletries market continued its upward trend due to an especially strong performance in the luxury class, which saw nearly double-digit growth. Analysis also reveals that all trade classes posted gains in 2011.

“The comparatively low growth in the professional class correlates with the greater trend we’re observing with consumers’ relatively moderate expenditure on professional services,” stated Nancy Mills, Kline’s consumer practice industry manager. “And yet, driven by ‘frugal-fatigue’ and a rising financial confidence, consumers are compensating by purchasing premium products as affordable luxuries driving sales in the luxury and mass trade classes.”

Looking ahead, Kline projects skin care and makeup to maintain exceptionally high growth over the next five years. In addition, Mills expects the dominating drivers in personal care to be multifunctional products that deliver promised results, a gradual replacement of harsh synthetic chemicals with more natural-derived products and an adoption of a more overt environmentally responsible profile. 

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