Not A Pretty Picture in Facial Skin Care

By Katie Middleweek, European Cosmetic Markets Tel: (44) 0207 193 7447, Fax: (44) 20 7549 8622 | February 10, 2012

It hasn’t been a very good year for the facial skin care market in the Big 5, with all countries apart from Italy posting a decline in value sales. This comes as something of a shock to France, Germany, Spain and the UK, as facial skin care is normally one of the strongest categories in the cosmetics and toiletries arena, and one that experiences much innovation.

Sagging Slightly

The French facial skin care market was in the doldrums during the past year, declining 2.5% to $347 million, according to SymphonyIRI France, which tracks mass market sales through supermarkets and hypermarkets. Not even the normally resilient anti-aging sector could offer some respite, as it too, fell, slipping 1.9% to $189 million. Sales of moisturizers, the next biggest category, fell 4.3% to $49 million. Luxury skin care, of course, accounts for the vast majority of French skin care sales and taking that into account as well, Mintel estimates the total market value to be closer to $2.92 billion which is still an extremely robust figure.

The pharmacy sector has always been very big when it comes to facial skin care sales in France, and Caudalie and Nuxe continue to be particularly successful brands in that category, offering high quality, efficacious products with a natural positioning, and frequently refreshing their lines with new innovations.

Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Fluide Perfection Eclat is designed to correct skin imperfections such as dark spots at the source and can be as effective as a foundation in perfecting the skin. It contains three active ingredients: viniferine for added radiance, papaya enzyme to enhance the complexion and tannins to refine skin texture. Meanwhile Nuxe capitalized on the 20 years of success it has enjoyed with its best selling multi-use face, body and hair oil, L’Huile Prodigieuse, by launching a limited edition bottle of the oil to celebrate its anniversary.

Last year was busy for Vichy (L’Oréal), another pharmacy stalwart, with the launch of LiftActiv Derm Source Jour and Nuit. The result of 10 years of research, which has been published in six scientific journals, the two creams, which incorporate 5% rhamnose (a Brazilian plant sugar), are claimed to stimulate collagen in a very targeted manner. A third product called Serum 10, which also includes rhamnose, is designed to be a powerful anti-wrinkle serum to leave skin looking and feeling instantly transformed.

Showing Its Age

German facial skin care sales also dipped, falling 1.6% to $760 million in 2011, according to SymphonyIRI Germany. Volume sales, however, fared slightly better, rising 0.7% to 10.35 million units. Face creams accounted for 71.7% ($545.6 million) of sales, while facial cleansers represented 28.3% ($215 million) of sales.

In terms of new product launches in Germany, Beiersdorf was strong here, as would be expected from a German company with a solid international heritage. A year ago, Nivea launched its Pure & Natural skin care range with 85-95% natural ingredients. The range is comprised of an anti-wrinkle night cream, cleansing lotion and facial toner. Also new from Beiersdorf-owned brand Florena is the two-SKU cleansing range, WaterLilly and Provitamin B5, which rolled out in April, consisting of a cleansing lotion and wet cleansing wipes.

Italian Inspiration

Over in Italy, the facial skin care sector was performing in a more positive fashion, with Unipro reporting a 0.9% rise in value sales to $1.52 billion. Depigmentation products are flying off the shelves right now in Italy and although the sub-sector is relatively small, accounting for just $19.3 million worth of sales overall, it grew 6% in the past year which was impressive when compared to other lackluster sectors. Masks did record a loss, however, slipping 3.5% to $49.5 million, with tonic lotions, contour eye creams and moisturizing creams also on the wane.

This positive activity in the facial skin care market could have been boosted by the roll-out of some products by Italian brand Pupa, representing its first foray into the category. One product of note is Pupa’s Anti Wrinkle Volumising Filler, which is suitable for all skin types and which is said to rejuvenate the skin. It promises to do this using tetra peptide E to help make the skin’s texture look smoother and firmer with continued application. There is also a Lip Volumising Enhancer featuring hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth.

Spanish Slump

Spain seems to have borne the brunt of the dismal fortunes of the facial skin care market with SymphonyIRI Spain reporting a worrying 6.6% drop in sales in 2011 to nearly $590 million. Volume dropped 3.6% to 1.6 million units. All major sub-sectors lost value with sales of anti-wrinkle creams and hydrating creams in particular a concern. However regenerative products did grow slightly during the same period, which provided some crumb of encouragement. When it comes to the split between male and female facial skin care products, it will come as little surprise to hear that female products account for 90% of all items sold, although many feel the men’s market is growing as each year passes.

However it was not all bad news in Spain, as sales of facial skin care products in the increasingly popular private label category actually rose 4.3% to $96 million.

In fact, there were a couple of notable new launches to boost private label sales in 2011. Cooperative group Eroski, which has more than 2,300 outlets across Spain, introduced its Belle range of luxury face creams that include ingredients such as caviar extract, pearl and snail secretions. The four Belle products are available as part of five ranges—Belle & Young, Belle & Professional, Belle & Make-Up and Men by Belle and a basic range—that are said to be within everyone’s price range. Eroski contends that the pure caviar extract in Caviar Therapy is ideal for reducing wrinkles and signs of tiredness and helps stimulate cell regeneration. In the Luxury Pearl range, meanwhile, the micronized powder of pearl contains a large number of amino acids and elements to hydrate the skin. Finally, in the Baba de Caracol products, the active ingredient is extract of snail secretion that has a high concentration of ingredients, including allantoin and collagen, to fight the signs of aging.

Wiping Up the Decline

According to data from Kantar Worldpanel, the UK facial skin care market declined 1.3% to $1.23 billion. Volume fell 1% to 209.8 million units. Looking at individual sub-sectors, facial moisturizers in the UK, which account for a 58.5% market share, tumbled 1.5% in the past year. But the biggest decline came in the anti-aging arena, where product sales fell by an even more worrying 3.9%. However, essential care facial moisturizers did provide a glimmer of hope as they put on 4.8% during the same period, to account for a 41.4% share of the market.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, cleansing wipes are most popular with UK women across the main European markets, reinforcing the view that convenient, on-the-go care is still going strong in Britain. In the past, easy-to-use wipes have been perceived as cheap cleansing alternatives brimming with synthetic nasties and a culprit of needless waste—but all that is changing. Seeking to address this, improved alternatives are coming to market such as Yes To Cucumbers’ Cleansing Towelettes, which are biodegradable and use natural, refreshing ingredients, such as cucumber and green tea.

Meanwhile Kleenex, the UK’s best-known tissue company, has branched out into cleansing beauty wipes with a quartet of products including Facial Cloths, Shine Absorbing Sheets, Facial Cleansing Wipes and Eye Make-Up Removal Wipes. The soft quilted sheets, containing natural fibers, are said to have a lower environmental impact than standard wipes and take Kleenex back to its roots—during the 1920s, the product was marketed as a disposable alternative to wash cloths.

Put On a Better Face?

There is no denying that the European facial skin care market has not had a good year, with all countries apart from Italy reporting a drop in value sales. This is especially worrisome considering facial skin care is normally the category with the most interest, innovation and investment. Let’s hope that 2012 progresses in a more fruitful fashion, or there could be real problems afoot.

European Cosmetic Markets is published monthly by HPCi Media Limited. It provides in-depth data and analysis of the European cosmetics and toiletries market. For subscription details contact HPCi Media Limited