‘Selfie generation’ drives £1bn UK cosmetics market

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Figures released by US market research company IRI has found that the so-called ‘selfie generation’ is helping to drive up sales of cosmetics, as the trend for thicker brows and contouring continues – with a market in the UK now close to £1 billion.

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.

The figures also found a surge in contouring products where both value and volume sales increased dramatically, attributed to the popularity of selfies from social media stars such as Kim Kardashian and Kyle Jenner, plus an 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, darker eyebrows – largely driven by models such as Cara Delevigne – has seen eyebrow products become a multi-million pound market, now worth £42 m 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).

“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,” said Chloe Humphreys-Page, Retail Insight Director at IRI. “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 trend for thicker eyebrows to continue in 2017, along with the addition of bleached brows, glittering other techniques to enhance the eyebrow. However, the trend for 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,” added Page. “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.”



Toby Cruse

All stories by: Toby Cruse