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Feb 11, 2020
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Skincare is key prestige growth category in UK beauty, make-up falls says NPD

Published
Feb 11, 2020

Skincare was the star category in the UK prestige beauty market last year with the overall high-end beauty sector falling to £2.6 billion in 2019, but skincare turning in respectable growth. And while make-up fell sharply, there are predictions that it could recover in just a few years' time.


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A new report from The NPD Group said the market as a whole fell 3% year-on-year, while skincare managed to rise 2%.

That said, the £1.3 billion fragrance category was still the largest product segment, even thought the total market declined by 1%, with men’s fragrance down by the same amount,

But that decline was tiny compared to the once-high-performing make-up category, It was a growth leader just a few years ago, but this time its value dropped 8% to £721 million. NPD attributed this to “the return of the natural look”.

And it was this trend that also helped the skincare market as the 2% increase that it enjoyed saw its value reaching £605 million. 

“Natural is a big buzz word in many industries, especially beauty, in terms of product ingredients as well as consumers looking to achieve a more natural look,” said Emma Fishwick, Account Manager, NPD UK Beauty. “How make-up responds to this movement will be key to its revival.”

But Fishwick also said that historically, NPD’s data “has detected a shift between make-up and skincare every four to five years. Based on this, and the slowdown in make-up that began to take hold in 2017, I anticipate we’ll see make-up rebound in a few years.”

One area that did perform particularly well last year was online beauty. The report said that there was an increase in sales of 6% in 2019 and e-commerce now accounts for 22% of all sales in the prestige beauty market. “E-commerce lends itself to loyal consumers purchasing repeat favourites. However, it currently lacks the ability to allow the consumer to trial and experiment which is where the high street excels,” NPD explained.

The relationship between online and in-store is continuing to evolve with physical shops remaining hugely important for beauty sales due to the customer’s ability to try out product in-store. 

“High street outlets and department stores remain important as prestige beauty relies on a hands-on, consultant-led approach with workshops, sampling, gift-with-purchase and make-up lessons all part of the retail mix,” NPD said. “The introduction of Augmented Reality such as Magic Mirrors are an exciting opportunity to merge digital with Bricks and Morta"r.

Fishwick added: “2019 has been a challenging year for the prestige beauty market, driven in part by conscious consumerism and sustainability. E-commerce is growing and the way customers shop and interact with brands is also fluctuating. Agile brands are responding to this ‘disruption’, adapting their retail offering with more experiential retail opportunities for customers.”

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