According to Kantar, sales of beauty and hygiene products recorded a paradoxical growth in 2019. Indeed, hygiene-beauty occasions” (the number of uses per individual and per week) continued to decrease, down from 44.2 in 2018 to 44.1 in 2019. Even if it seems a minor decrease, in particular compared to the previous years (the index was at 49.1 in 2015), it shows that buyers are still in a de-consumption mood. "This phenomenon is explained by a continuous simplification of beauty routines," explained Anaïs Dupuy, Business development Manager at Kantar.

While the French cosmetics industry records impressive export figures, its...

While the French cosmetics industry records impressive export figures, its domestic market remains sluggish (Photo: © Olesia Bilke | shutterstock.com)

In such a context, the rise in sales recorded in 2019 is mainly explained by the impact of sales promotions which encouraged consumers to buy more products and stock them, highlights Kantar warning about a potential backlash this year. In 2019, consumers bought 51 products on average, compared to just over 50 in 2018. This resurgence of sales is not due to the 25-34 year old, who tend to reduce their purchases, but to senior buyers - especially the 50+. The most dynamic categories are hygiene products, with hair and shower products (+4% by volume) performing well, while makeup is the category that suffered the most with a decline of 5.5% in volume compared to the previous year.

For their purchases, French consumers visit more and more retail channels: 3.38 on average in 2019, compared to 3.25 in 2015. However, perfumeries, super and hyper markets continue to lose market shares, while discount shops and hard discounters are progressing. According to Kantar, these figures show that French are looking for good deals and good prices, and are therefore ready to visit more outlets.

Finally, the success of green cosmetics continues unabated. According to Kantar, the category has gained nearly 8.1 million consumers since 2015, and buyers of these products spend more and more frequently. "All indicators are green for this trend," concluded Anaïs Dupuy.

A prestige market still declining

As far as prestige beauty products are concerned, sales continued to decrease in 2019 (-1%), for the fifth consecutive year. "Since 2015, the French prestige beauty market has lost 4% in value," said Mathilde Lyon, Europe Beauty Expert at The NPD Group.

However, sales during the fourth quarter were very strong and compensated a large part of the losses recorded during from Q1 to Q3. In particular, there was a sharp increase of sales during the Black Friday week (+22% compared to 2018) which is now the second best performing week of the year, with 82% of sales made with a discount.

The French market has also benefited from a surge in the number of tourists in 2019. According to The NPD Group, Global Shoppers - who do not buy only in duty-free - represent 8% of the French prestige beauty market, up 13% compared to 2018.

As in other countries sales of prestige make-up declined strongly, however contrary to other markets the skincare category did not take over in France and sales remained flat.