Cosmetics and toiletries are losing out in the COVID-19-driven decision between what is essential and what is dispensable, particularly as almost half (43%) of UK consumers plan to socialize outside of the home less frequently in future [1]. This will contribute to the forecasted -10% (£1.7bn) value decline in the UK cosmetics and toiletries industry in 2020 [2],” explains GlobalData.

As consumers have fewer out-of-home occasions, the cosmetics market has taken a backseat. “Even when consumers do venture outdoors, the wearing of masks is further diminishing the need for cosmetics,” comments Lia Neophytou, Consumer Analyst at the data and analytics company.

Skin care and hygiene in better position

As a consequence, sectors such as fragrances and make-up that are most suited to out-of-home occasions will see greater decline than skincare and oral hygiene that are generally used irrespective of plans to socialize. These latter categories will also see comparatively less decline as people have a heightened awareness of personal cleanliness amid the pandemic.

Brands operating in the skincare and personal hygiene categories are in a better position than most - though a degree of innovation is still required to mitigate the extent of sector decline and speed up recovery. Investing in marketing campaigns and re-positioning products typically used out-of-home to align with the at-home occasion would be wise,” adds Neophytou.

For example, combining hand sanitising and skin moisturising - as Unilever’s Vaseline brand recently did with their new range of products - may be a good idea.

Eye make-up increases share

However, among the most affected categories some segments may also successfully navigate through the crisis. Eye make-up, for instance, increased its share of the prestige make-up market by 3% in the UK, during and after lockdown, according to The NPD Group.

Pre-lockdown, eye make-up accounted for 22% of total prestige makeup sales and increased to 24% of prestige make-up sales during lockdown. Once lockdown was eased, eye make-up increased its share to 25% of total prestige make-up sales,” explains the market research firm.

According to The NPD Group, mascara and eye shadow sales drove the increase in share during this period. However, the focus on eye products is also evident in the brow segment, since brow products increased their market share in makeup from 4% pre-lock-down to 5% post-lockdown.

On the contrary, as consumers are required to wear face coverings in shops, on public transport and other public spaces, the lip segment has declined in share, driven largely by a decline in demand of lip colour.

Financial uncertainty may impediment return to growth

While all sectors in the cosmetics and toiletries industry are expected to return to growth in 2021, they will not recuperate their pre-COVID-19 value immediately.

Shifts in consuming habits and priorities will play a role in the difficulties of the beauty demand to return to post-crisis levels. However, according to GolbalData, economic and financial uncertainty will further contribute toward this. Indeed, 25% of UK consumers that are earning less due to COVID-19 will purchase beauty and grooming products at the lower end of the price range in future, compared with the UK average of 20% [3].