Daily Insights

Color Cosmetics’ Unhappy Holidays

By: Maile McCann | Feb 25, 2020

Given color cosmetics’ slowed sales growth in both the United States and the United Kingdom, this year’s holiday season was critical for increasing color brands’ bottom lines. Unfortunately, according to Gartner analysis of Rakuten Intelligence data, fourth-quarter online color cosmetics sales in the United States declined 1% on Sephora and Ulta, whereas skin care and fragrance online holiday sales both grew 9%, year over year.

To make matters worse, color cosmetics also saw post-holiday discounting on specialty retailers across the US, FR, and UK (e.g., Ulta, Marionnaud and Boots), whereas skin care avoided post-holiday discounts across these same retailers, even increasing its average price per unit by 64% on Marionnaud and 2% on Boots. Even retailer growth-drivers like Kylie Cosmetics can’t avoid price slashing. The brand’s products accounted for 30% of products on sale on Ulta’s “Makeup Gifts” page during the Black Friday through Cyber Monday period.

However, there is a bright spot for color brands: complexion products see greater holiday sales in comparison to other makeup subcategories, as well as minimal post-holiday discounting. Other subcategories like eye and lip color dropped 12% and 5%, while complexion’s holiday sales only decreased by 1%. On French retailer Marionnaud, complexion products like concealer actually saw price increases during the post-holiday sales period, and on US retailer Ulta and UK retailer Boots, discounting of complexion products was minimal, especially in comparison to discounting of lip products. 

Although the holidays weren’t so merry and bright for color as a whole, supporting complexion products in holiday campaigns next season may be a way for color brands to counter the makeup category’s decline across the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.