Recessionista Beauty, the Fading Lipstick Effect


According to market research group Mintel, the long accepted idea that during a recession lipstick sales increase as consumers turn to small indulgences, no longer appears to be true.

In a recent survey of 3,000 consumers in the U.S., France, and the U.K. only 3% of consumers questioned had purchased lipstick to make themselves feel better during the recession. In fact, lip color was actually one of the cosmetic products that women reported they were most likely to refrain from buying during more difficult economic times.

While the beauty business has been fairly resilient overall, with the majority of consumers reporting no change in their spending habits on cosmetic and beauty products, women were found to be more likely to spend their money on hair care and skincare, rather than on makeup – which makes sense, since lip color doesn’t last nearly as long as highlights or have long term benefits like anti-wrinkle creams.

Theories of what the new feel-good purchase is in these tough times center primarily on accessories. Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus, said “the new lipstick is shoes.” Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director, Barneys New York, similarly reported that they “have been selling a lot of scarves, bags and shoes.”

On an interesting note, for those who have stuck with lipstick as their recession picker-upper, one of the most popular ones is the new Guerlain Rouge G.

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