Has the Shine Rubbed Off of European Cosmetics?

By Imogen Matthews | November 4, 2013

Lipstick sales have long been viewed as a barometer for the economic health of nations—when times are tough, sales of lipstick soar as women treat themselves to this little magic bullet which has the power to make them feel as if things aren’t so bad after all. This phenomenon has been apparent across Europe during the recent economic downturn, with sales of all kinds of makeup, not just lipstick, benefiting from the so-called “Lipstick Effect.”

However, there are signs that the European woman’s love affair with makeup may be waning. According to Euromonitor, sales of makeup in Europe topped $10 billion in 2012, but have slid back 0.6% this year. The main problem lay with Spain and Italy, where makeup sales declined by almost 4% and 2%, respectively. The UK also showed a surprise drop in sales of 1.3% after several years of strong growth. France and Germany bucked the overall market trend, posting growth of 0.8% and 1.5%, respectively.

When it comes to product choice, three quarters of European makeup sales go on mass brands, such as Maybelline, Rimmel and Max Factor. German women are the heaviest buyers of mass brands, which account for 87% of their makeup sales, whereas French women are far more likely to trade up to premium brands, which comprise 45% of the French total market.

Who’s No. 1?
The top five European makeup brands are L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline, Yves Rocher, Rimmel and Max Factor, though brand choice varies widely by country, often reflecting a preference for local brands. So, in the UK, Boots leads the market with its No 7 and 17 brands; in Germany, local brands Manhattan and Essence dominate sales; in France the top five are all French: Yves Rocher, L’Oréal, Gemey, Sephora and Bourjois; in Italy, Kiko, Deborah and Pupa are the local favorites.

For most women, putting on makeup is a regular part of their daily routine. They wear it for a variety of reasons, the main one being when getting ready to go out for work or before socializing, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Around half of all Italian, Spanish and French women put on makeup in the morning before facing the world. German and British women are a little more likely to go bare faced first thing: less than 40% put on makeup as part of their morning routine.

Multifunctional Offerings
Facial makeup accounted for 31.5% of European makeup sales in 2012, with its strongest share in France (37.7%) and the UK (36.2%). According to Oru Mohiuddin, a senior analyst at Euromonitor, facial makeup has benefited from the popularity of multifunctional products.

“While BB creams combine a multitude of skin care benefits with makeup coverage, foundations are increasingly incorporating anti-aging technology in their formulations, leading to a blurring of the lines between facial makeup and skin care,” explained Mohiuddin. “These multi-functional products now sit alongside tinted moisturizers and standard foundations, adding to consumer confusion.”

She questioned which types of product are likely to survive long-term in such a competitive environment.

“Despite the potential for confusion, multifunctional products do offer value for money, thus clearly indicating that multifunctionality will become increasingly prevalent,” Mohiuddin maintained.

Foundations have benefited from an overhaul, with innovative product developments such as light optimization technology using a new genre of pigments. For example, Clarins Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation SPF15 and Lancôme Teint Miracle use light-reflecting technology to provide the illusion of naturally radiant skin. Both products are helping to drive growth in the foundations/concealer category, according to Euromonitor.

Eye makeup is currently the largest sub-sector in the European makeup market, accounting for 36% of total makeup sales. German women buy the most eye makeup (40%), while the Spanish buy the least (26.9%).

Eyeliners are very much in fashion spurred on by the launch of products that are quick and easy to apply. Clarins 3 Dot Liner and Bourjois Intuitive Liner are both cases of joining the dots using a triple pointed liner that promises to give foolproof results.
Lip makeup accounts for 18.7% of European sales. Spanish women are the most enthusiastic purchasers of lipstick, which accounts for a quarter of makeup sales in that country. German women tend not to buy much lipstick by comparison—lipstick’s share of the market in Germany is half that of Spain.

Lipstick crayons are growing in popularity, following the launch of Clinique’s Chubby Stick Moisturizing Balm in 2011 and Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain shortly after. Although designed like a crayon, these products do not need sharpening and twist up like a traditional lipstick. Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon is another recent launch, claiming to color, shine and moisturize the lips.
The most buoyant of all the makeup categories is also the smallest at 13.8% of total makeup sales. Only in France is nail makeup relatively unimportant, perhaps a reflection of the fact that French women prefer to go to the beauty salon to have their nails done professionally.

The nail bar trend has been accelerating in the UK, where British brand Nails Inc. is the largest nail bar concession in department stores as well as an important brand in the take-home nail polish market. Nails Inc.’s new product development mirrors fast-moving trends, with frequent launches. New to market in October 2013 was the Nails Inc. Bling It On Glitterball, a nail polish kit containing glitter that is applied to a cobalt blue nail polish with a dusting brush. The technique is similar to Ciaté, another British brand, which pioneered the technique with its Caviar product, a three-dimensional manicure involving the addition of “pearls” which stick to the polish. Ciaté has achieved success by pushing the frontiers in nail polish with its range of exciting nail polish textures including velvet and feathers. 

Innovation is certainly not in short supply in European makeup markets and is an essential driver in the continuing success of the category.

Imogen Matthews
Headington, Oxford UK
Tel: +44 1865 764918

Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.