The so-called ‘selfie generation’ is helping to drive up sales of cosmetics, according to figures from IRI, a leading provider of big data and predictive analytics for retailers and suppliers. Driven by the desire to share images on social media, the trend for face sculpting or contouring, and for thick, flawless eyebrows has led to a huge boost in the market, now worth close to £1 billion to UK retailers.
According to the IRI figures, cosmetics is now the top-performing category within UK Health & Beauty, worth £893m (52 w/e 18 March 2017) – up £55m over the previous 12 months and a £100m increase since 2015.
Figures reveal a surge in contouring products where both value and volume sales increased dramatically, thanks to the popularity of selfies from social media stars like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner and the increase in YouTube tutorials. Value sales of bronzers rose to £43m, up from £23m the previous year. Concealers also saw a boost, with sales of £52m, up from £42m.
Eyebrow grooming and the trend for thicker eyebrows that sit low on the face and are darker than your hair, largely driven by models like Cara Delevigne, has seen eyebrow products become a multi-million pound market in their own right – now worth £42m in value sales, up £10m over the previous year. More than 9m units of eyebrow products were sold in just 12 months (52 w/e 18 March 2017).
Chloe Humphreys-Page, Retail Insight Director at IRI, believes the boost in sales is being driven by consumers who are more willing to experiment with their looks: “Consumers are heavily influenced by social media and by their peers, and this has led them to be more experimental in their choices and prepared to try new things with cosmetics. The result is that there is a lot more new product development among brands in this space, for both female and increasingly male cosmetics, leading to a wider and often more interesting choice of items within stores and online.
“The impact of the so-called ‘selfie generation’ – where people are spending disproportionately long periods of time studying their faces and making sure they are camera-ready – is not just driving sales for certain cosmetics, but also boosting demand for ancillary products, like eyebrow kits, sponges, pencils and brushes.”
IRI is predicting the fuller and thicker eyebrow trend will continue into 2017, but believes we may start to see more bleached brows and the use of glitter and other techniques to enhance the brow area.
However, IRI’s Chloe Humphreys-Page says contouring is out: “The kinds of contouring we see on reality TV now has a more subtle look, ‘non-touring’ as it’s called – a technique that uses minimal products to give more of a no-make-up look to the face. The overall effect is one of a natural dewy appearance, using primers and liquid or powder highlighters and illuminators, and we expect this is where brands will be investing new product development budgets.”