The changing face of beauty

July 10, 2012

Men's interest in physical-appearance products and online merchants are two factors shaping the category's future.

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Facts, Figures & the Future.

America has long celebrated looking great. This has driven women (mostly) and men to excessive behaviors attempting to demonstrate physical attractiveness.

Recognizing its media power to shape public perceptions of beauty, Seventeen magazine will pledge in its August 2012 issue to “never change girls’ body or face shapes. (Never have, never will),” according to an advance issue reported on by CNN. The magazine will “celebrate every kind of beauty” and feature “real girls and real models who are healthy,” it said.

F3 welcomes such a grounded approach—it could help remove anxiety for a generation of readers. Yet it remains human nature to use physical beauty as a way to exert influence in life. This is one reason why U.S. women, for example, spend $2.3 billion a year on anti-aging facial skin care products, according to Mintel figures.

It is also why “retailers are seeing a booming market in cosmetics and skin care for men,” observes the Los Angeles Times, as long as product packaging, “terminology and instructions are suitably manly.” Mintel expects men’s toiletries sales to reach $3.2 billion in 2016, up from about $2.6 billion in 2012 and $2.2 billion in 2006.

Retailers are already looking to capitalize on this trend. The paper tells of the Macy’s Grooming Zone in San Francisco stores, the Men’s Shop in Ulta, and more shelf space for men’s grooming items at Nordstrom and Macy’s. A CVS in Charlotte, NC, has a Guy Aisle, conceived by Procter & Gamble, which is also behind the H-E-B Men’s Zones displaying 530 male items from multiple manufacturers, and with touchscreens for grooming tips and flat-screen TVs to show sporting events, noted Drug Store News.

F3 believes part of this is practicality, since Boomers especially and men in all age groups want to exude vitality in a hyper-competitive job market and, of course, attract partners. It is part vanity too. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (APS), in 2011 chain augmentation procedures for men jumped 71% and lip augmentation procedures for men rose 49%. The five most common cosmetic surgical procedures for men, said APS, were nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction, breast reduction and facelifts.

Whether supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchants will capture their fair share of cosmetics and personal care sales depends on how well they’ll compete against online sellers. A new A.T. Kearney e-commerce study shows that 60% of consumers surveyed in the U.S. and Canada buy beauty and personal care products online. They say product selections, price incentives and convenience are their key reasons why.

According to SymphonyIRI Group, in the 52 weeks ended March 18, 2012, supermarkets, drug and mass merchandiser stores (excluding Walmart) sold cosmetics products at increasing rates:
•    Eye cosmetics dollar sales were up 3.56% to $1.24 billion
•    Facial cosmetics dollar sales rose 5.59% to $1.07 billion
•    Nail cosmetics dollar sales gained 24.40% to $971.6 million
•    Lip cosmetics dollar sales edged up by 1.14% to $535.5 million

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Facts, Figures & the Future. For more stories and for a FREE subscription,click here.