WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY?

Beauty Brands are created at the speed of light. This is illustrated by the fact that when traditional makeup was down 1.3% in 2016, independent brands were up 42.7% and the trend continues until today with the increase of e-commerce stores. Nowadays, it’s easier to enter the industry as the barriers have been lowered, creating a competitive threat to the established players. However, in order to establish a successful beauty business, you actually have to sell good quality.

The industry has seen many changes over the years that involve an overlap in categories that used to be discrete. For example, consumers now like to have beauty products along with health and wellness products all together in one or they prefer creating spa experiences at home. Therefore, the industry needs to present beauty products that have multiple benefits and purposes.

However, how Covid-19 is expected to change the beauty industry?

It has been reported that the economic magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic on brands and retailers will be far greater than any recession. However,  there are signs that the beauty industry may prove relatively resilient.

The fact that most people work from home, keep social distance and wear masks have had an impact on makeup and fragrance. According to the report published by McKinsey & Company, for prestige brands, we see 55 and 75 percent declines in cosmetic and fragrance purchasing, respectively, versus a year ago. When consumers do return to work, many will continue to wear masks, further slowing makeup’s recovery. One possible exception is above-the-mask treatments. In China, Alibaba reported eye-cosmetic sales increased 150 percent, month over month, during the week of February 18, 2020.[1]

By contrast, skin-care, hair-care, and bath-and body products appear to be benefiting from self-care and pampering trends. NPD, which tracks consumer spending and point-of-sale data, recorded that sales of luxury hand soap in France were up 800 percent the week of March 16, 2020, as the country went into lockdown.[2]

Zalando, Europe’s largest fashion and lifestyle e-commerce marketplace, reported a boom in pampering and self-care beauty categories, including candles, aromatherapy, and detox products; sales of skin-, nail-, and hair-care products were up 300 percent, year on year.[3] That is consistent with results from Amazon, for which most makeup sales in the United States are showing slight declines, compared with the same month in 2019, while sales for nail-care products (218 percent), hair coloring (172 percent), and bath-and-body products (65 percent) are way up.

Another trend that has come to stay is the do-it-yourself  (DIY) tactic. Due to the financial difficulties that the pandemic has caused many people to choose to do things themselves. In McKinsey’s survey of UK consumers, 66 percent believe their finances will be affected for at least two months because of COVID-19, and 36 percent say they are cutting back on spending. As a result, DIY hair coloring, nail care, and care in other beauty categories are finding new customers. In the United States, Nielsen reported rises in the sales of hair dye and hair clippers by 23 and 166 percent, respectively, in the first week of April 2020 versus a year ago.[4]

Another change that will stay with us is the rise of digitation. Beauty-industry players will need to prioritize digital channels to capture and convert the attention of existing and new customers. Also, they will need to find green and eco-friendly solutions to promote sustainability within the beauty industry.

Finally, according to the same report, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to accelerate trends that were already shaping the market, such as the rise of the global middle class and the use of e-commerce, rather than mark entirely new ground. More importantly, the definition of “beauty” will continue to become more global, expansive, and intertwined with individuals’ sense of well-being.

For more information, please read the full report.


[1] Christine Chou, “Huda Beauty catches the eyes of Chines consumers,” Alizila, March 30, 2020, alizila.com.

[2] “Confinement: Mauvaise passe pour les produits de beauté haut de gamme … à deux exceptions près [in French],” Fashion Network, April 10, 2020, fr.fashionetwork.com.

[3] “What Zalando customers are buying as they’re asked to stay home,” Zalando, April 16, 2020, corporate.zalando.com.

[4] 5 Alicia Wallace, “Walmart CEO says we’re in the ‘hair color’ phase of panic buying,” CNN Business, April 11, 2020, cnn.com.