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Prestige Beauty Continues to Outpace Mass

Published April 30, 2023
Published April 30, 2023
Marcelo Moreira via Pexels

Prestige beauty’s post-pandemic rebound shows no signs of slowing down. Q1 2022 saw a 19% increase, with sales revenue of $5.3 billion and artistry color cosmetic ranges as well as haircare lines gathering substantial growth. Circana (the new rebrand of The NPD Group and IRI) has gathered the latest figures for Q1 2023, and numbers are continuing to rise.

US sales in the prestige category increased by 16% over the past year, reaching $6.6 billion. While mass beauty reached higher sales ($7 billion), it’s growth rate was 10% by comparison. Across both segments, the color category remained top seller, accounting for one-third of beauty sales overall. Lip products were the fastest-growing makeup segment, with 43% growth across prestige and mass, with even higher growth rates among prestige brands.

“Following a stellar 2022, the beauty industry continues to bask in the glow of growing sales. The first quarter results reinforce beauty’s resiliency and unfaltering position as an indispensable category. As the prestige and mass industry lines blend, a clear picture of the complete beauty market becomes particularly important for brands and retailers to determine ‘where to grow from here’ and best harness the purchasing power of a consumer base that is already loyal to its products,” comments Larissa Jensen, Beauty Industry Advisor at Circana.

Here is a further breakdown of their findings:

Prestige Market

  • Makeup grew by 24%, fragrance by 15%, and skincare and hair by 11% respectively.
  • Facial skincare sales grew by 10%, with clinical brands growing faster than their natural competitors.
  • Fragrance gift set sales grew by 31%. Perfume purchases of under 1 ounce in size contributed to  40% of Q1 unit sales (a 3-point increase).
  • Hair products saw the highest average price increase year over year, with those priced above $30 seeing an increase in sales.

Mass Market

  • Makeup grew by 15%, skincare by 10%, fragrance by 13%, and hair by 7%.
  • Facial skincare sales were up by 13%.
  • Hair product sales in the mass category constituted three-quarters of total sales across the entire industry.

Circana spotlighted the launches across clinical brands—think Biojuve, pH-In, Prof. Dr. Volker Steinkraus—as growth drivers in the category. An experimental fragrance consumer, which has been an exciting growth opportunity at mass, has been also reaping benefits in the prestige category, with smaller bottle purchases indicating a consumer who is wearing more scents, more often. In hair, there has been a push for prestige products that deliver results beyond shine and detangling. Heat protectants, scalp care, leave-in treatments, and launches which counteract hair thinning all proved to have a gravitational sales pull. Recent industry happenings speaking to this consumer audience include Nu’s Hydrasilk Aftercare Bond Strengthener launch, Nutrafol’s expansion into Sephora, and It’s A 10’s Scalp Restore line.

No doubt, today’s consumer is smarter than ever about where they spend their dollar, knowing where to invest when it comes to science-backed claims, and where to save, such as in rinse-off products that end up (literally) going down the drain. Clinical brands surpassing natural product lines also speaks to an evolution of the clean beauty category as we know it, which had previously strongly relied on a botanical-focused narrative. But at the end of the day, sometimes beauty shoppers just want to revel in the beauty of a luxury lipstick—penis-packaged or otherwise.


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