Prestige beauty sales in the US up 11% in first quarter

Prestige beauty sales in the US rose 11% year-over-year to $4.2bn in the first quarter of 2021, according to market-research company The NPD Group.

Prestige haircare led growth with a 48% increase to $300m compared to the same period the year prior. Meanwhile, prestige fragrance sales grew 45% year-over-year to $953m and prestige skincare was up 12% to $1.4bn compared to the same quarter in 2020. Valentine’s Day (February 14) drove strong performance in the fragrance segment, with fragrance sets with a free gift and perfumes were both up triple digits. Sales for both products increased sharply in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

Prestige make-up sales decreased 9% year-over-year to $1.5bn. However, although total prestige make-up is down 9%, the category is gaining ground, as consumers begin to return to social settings. For example, highlighters and bronzers were up 12% and 2%, respectively, year-over-year. Eye products continue to outperform the category, as they are not covered by protective face masks, with gains in mascara, eyebrow make-up, false eyelashes and eye applicators.

Online sales within the US prestige beauty segment remain strong, up 33% compared to the first quarter of 2020. However, brick-and-mortar sales are gaining ground and increased 3% year-over-year driven in large part by double-digit growth in fragrance and haircare sales.

Self-care at home, which gained traction with consumers amid pandemic-related lockdowns, continues to be popular. Even as the US vaccine rollout gained momentum in the first quarter, many consumers continued to prioritize self-care as seen in the double and triple-digit gains of hair masks, facial and body serums, nail care and candles.

Consumers appear to be preparing skin for time outdoors, notes NPD, as facial exfoliators, body exfoliators and sun care are up year-over-year.

As consumers have washed their hands often since the beginning of the pandemic last year, hand soaps continue to be a popular seller in the skincare segment with sales more than doubling year-over-year.

The NPD Group beauty industry advisor Larissa Jensen said: “Strong growth across most categories is being fueled by the anniversary of sales during a period of lockdown in March. This will accelerate over the next quarter before somewhat stabilizing over the latter half of the year. The positive news is that fragrance, skincare, and hair posted growth against 2019, a more accurate representation of industry sales. A reenergized consumer has emerged, fueled by the optimism of warming temperatures, lower case counts, and widespread vaccinations providing the promise of a return to normalcy.”

US prestige beauty sales January to March 2021

CategoryQ1 2021 sales $% change Q1 2021/Q1 2020
Total beauty 4.2bn+11

Source: The NPD Group, Inc/US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market