The NPD Group's U.S. Beauty Holiday Outlook 2017

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Makeup may capture more dollars than fragrance this holiday season, and other top trends across beauty's sibling categories

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Attention is centering on makeup and fragrance this holiday season, as the two highly giftable beauty categories vie to capture the greatest dollar share in the U.S. prestige market. Traditionally fragrance’s place for holiday, this could be the year that makeup captures more sales, according to global information company The NPD Group.

December is the peak selling month for fragrance; however, sales declined by 1 percent in December 2016 versus 2015. At the same time, the makeup category has gained momentum, growing double-digits in December for the last two years. Since 2014, makeup dollar share for the month has grown from 32 percent to 37 percent, while fragrance has seen share eroded from over 43 percent to just below 40 percent. This represents a significant closing of the share gap between the two categories.

“Makeup has taken on a greater role in holiday over the last few years as consumers find excitement in a category ripe with fun and whimsical items perfect for gifting. Retailers have noticed and put a heavier emphasis on the category during key holiday months,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry analyst at The NPD Group.

Here are the top holiday trends across beauty’s sibling categories:

Makeup: Big sales are likely to come from small items this holiday season, as many pre-Christmas makeup launches have placed emphasis on the mini trend. Sales of mini/travel size prestige makeup products grew by 58 percent year-to-date through September 2017, and have increased exponentially as sales have tripled over the last three years. Makeup sets and lip color and gloss, which are popular holiday sellers, are also some of the mini products seeing the highest uptick in sales so far this year.

Fragrance: Tugging at the self-gifting heartstrings may be the step towards rekindling the fragrance flames. According to NPD’s Scentiments, almost one-third of consumers who purchased a fragrance in a department store last December did so as a “treat” for themselves. “Consumers want to spend, but they just have to see that it’s worth it. Brands and department stores should expand on this idea of a ‘treat’ by creating in-store experiences through personalization and customization that will not only ‘wow,’ but also encourage consumers to purchase that ‘treat’ item,” said Kissura Craft, fragrance analyst at The NPD Group.

Skincare: The gift of great skin may be an offer too tempting for consumers to resist. Skincare gift sets hold the greatest importance in December, and the top-sellers tend to be heavily anti-aging focused. In 2016, eight of the top 10 sets showcased a full-size anti-aging hero product. With the full set often priced close to the cost of the main item alone, the value appeal makes skincare sets viable gift options, and also an opportunity for consumers to consider purchases for themselves.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, December 2014-2016
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, January-September 2017

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Marissa Guyduy
The NPD Group
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