After a sharp fall in 2020 (-20% compared to 2019), sales of the selective channel in France returned to growth in 2021, with an increase of 9%, compared to the previous year, to reach EUR 2,689 billion in 2021, according to The NPD Group.

H1 remained marked by the pandemic

However, the persistence of the pandemic and the successive lockdowns in the first half of 2021 (with store closures) have slowed the recovery. The prestige beauty market has yet to return to pre-Covid levels, with sales down 12% in 2021 compared to 2019.

The pace of growth nevertheless accelerated during the second half of 2021, with fourth quarter sales reaching a level similar to that of the same period in 2019. Eventually, the year ended with record sales during the two weeks before Christmas.

Physical stores are back in the game

Physical stores were the main contributors to growth in the prestige beauty market in 2021. After the reopening of brick-and-mortar stores after the last lockdown in France, online sales began to slow down, and even strongly decreased in the fourth quarter , with a double-digit drop.

Sales in traditional stores accounted for 84% of the pretige beauty market in 2021, compared to 16% for online sales, these results confirm the importance of the in-store shopping experience.

Fragrances drive growth

Fragrances were a key driver of the prestige beauty market growth (accounting for 82% of the progression), with sales up 11% in 2021 compared to 2020.

The most dynamic segment in the category was home fragrances. In addition, high-end fragrances and more concentrated scents, such as eaux de parfum and extracts, were preferred by buyers, resulting in a 3% increase in the average price. The same behaviour has been observed in the United States.

Big success for body care

While skincare sales increased by 5% in 2021 (vs 2020), unit sales increased by 17%. For this category, consumers favoured less expensive products and more affordable brands.

Driven by the home-spa trend, sales of body care products confirmed their success, exceeding their 2019 level. As far as face products are concerned, skin care products, sprays/mists, oils, exfoliants and make-up removers returned to growth and recorded double-digit growth in 2021 compared to 2020.

Beautiful outlook for makeup

Sales of prestige makeup were up 5% compared to 2020 in France. As wearing face covers was mandatory in most places, consumers focused their purchases on the eye and nail segments, which recorded a double digit growth.

However, the consumption of the category’s emblematic products, such as foundations and lipsticks, resumed at the end of the year. “This is a very positive signal, announcing a good year 2022 for make-up,” highlighted The NPD Group.

Hair care is further establishing itself

Still emerging in the selective channel, the haircare category continues to establish itself, rising by 43% in 2021 compared to 2020, a year which was already considered to be flourishing for this segment. This growth is based on promotional sets and hair care.

There are increasingly visible signs that the recovery is accelerating since restrictions were lifted. Once again, consumers have demonstrated that the health of the sector depends mainly on in-store experience, even if online shopping has transformed their habits,” concludes Mathilde Lion, Beauty Expert Europe at The NPD Group.