The Lipstick Index:Why Makeup Sales Are Spiking
- Staff Writer
According to research from NPD, makeup sales—specifically lipstick—is on the rise.
"The term 'lipstick index' was coined by Leonard Lauder in the early 2000s to describe the influx of makeup sales during the recession," Natallia Bambiza, NPD manager and makeup category analyst, beauty, shared in her report. "Apparently, lipstick sales were inversely related to economic health. The phenomenon was also noted during the Great Depression when makeup sales increased between 1929 and 1933...Priced significantly lower than designer accessories, apparel, or jewelry, a nice-to-have lipstick plays the role of affordable luxury. In fact, lipstick is one of the products most purchased on impulse, exceeded only by lip gloss, according to the Makeup Consumer Report from NPD."
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this did not hold true. Lipstick sales declined significantly, along with makeup. Unlike previous economic crises, face masks were a reality (and largely, still are), making the simple luxury invaluable. Instead, the stand-in for this "treat" was fragrance, and the category saw notable growth during the pandemic.
According to NPD reasearch, in 2021, fragrance revenue growth outperformed all other beauty categories, and, for the first time, fragrance sales reached parity with skincare. The average retail price for fragrances rose by 15 percent in 2021, versus 2020, after averaging a 5 percent increase during the two years prior, according to U.S. retail sales data from The NPD Group. Both men’s and women’s fragrances added nearly $10 more per product, on average, in 2021.
However, now that mask mandates are lifting and people have begun to gather, events have resumed, and socialization is getting back to normal, the makeup category is already improving. Lips is the fastest-growing category—sales revenue is up 48 percent in the first quarter of 2022, versus last year, according to NPD. Which begs the question, are we gearing up for another economic slump?
Prepare to pucker up!