The global financial turmoil has rattled even the die-hard beauty shoppers, who have resorted to buying smaller sizes of luxury brands and snapping up value-priced gift sets in department stores. Some prestige market consumers have traded down to premium-priced mass brands in drugstore chains, while mass shoppers are turning to budget brands.
“People are spending a little less and there is less traffic in stores, but the customer is still buying,” said Howard Kreitzman, vice president of cosmetics and fragrances for Bloomingdale’s.
“We are seeing a reaction to value,” he continued, noting that gift-set sales are up, items under $100 are selling and the classic fragrance business has picked up earlier than usual. Also, sales of the highest-priced skin care items seem to be softening.
A second retailer echoed some of Kreitzman’s comments and added that customers have gravitated to smaller sizes, particularly in women’s fragrances. There are also indications that shoppers are replenishing basics. But high-end men’s fragrances and higher-priced skin care are still selling. Customers are also being drawn to the more novel and innovative products, not only the Gwen Stefani fragrance, Harajuku Lovers, but also the vibrating mascaras from Estée Lauder and Lancôme. “They’ll come if they want it,” the retailer noted.
At Carol’s Daughter, a personal care and beauty brand, president and founder Lisa Price noted that customers are treating themselves mostly with hair care products. “Moisturizers are secondary,” she said.
“Innovativeness and new products are still able to post positive [growth],” said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst at NPD Group. Nevertheless, transaction levels are said to be lower, as is the value of transactions. “While shoppers are still buying, the frequency is dropping off,” Grant said.
Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, elaborated on the remarks that she gave during the Fragrance Foundation panel discussion Tuesday (see this page).
Liebmann added that 68 percent of women said they were cutting back on fragrance purchases, up 14 percentage points from a year ago. And 59 percent are cutting back on color cosmetics, up 4 percentage points. But the most drastic change is in hair care and skin care. In the latter, 55 percent are cutting back, up 20 percentage points, and 51 percent of women are cutting back on hair care, up 19 percentage points.
But there are glints of a silver lining, as sales of premium products pick up in the mass market. “We are actually seeing increases in lines such as L’Oréal,” said one large chain retailer, “as department store consumers trade into mass and buy lines like L’Oréal and OPI and Nicole nail polish. We are not selling as much midrange cosmetics.”
At the other end of the spectrum, retailers also report existing mass beauty shoppers trading down further to budget brands, including Wet ‘n’ Wild in cosmetics or Sinful in nail color.
Buyers said bargain-hunting shoppers are looking for one-day sales and more buy-one, get-one-free deals. Mass chains are borrowing a page from department stores by adding friends-and-family discount days. Several merchants plan to start slashing prices earlier. Meijer, for example, will post holiday special sale pricing nine days before the Thanksgiving holiday on its Web site. “Economic conditions are motivating consumers to spend more time searching out the best values in retail,” said Jeff Handler, senior vice president of marketing for Meijer. He said Meijer actually expects Thanksgiving Day to be one of the busiest of the year. CVS Pharmacy also is moving up its weeklong Black Friday promotional event to Sunday.
Consumers have definitely shifted patterns — eating at home more or using cash instead of credit. In fact, Walgreens chief operating officer Greg Wasson said his chain sees “a more anxious, concerned consumer” than in the past. He said they are using fewer credit cards and “trying to live more within their means.”
The financial contagion has spread to Europe, but the effect has been muted so far. “It is all about keeping up appearances,” said Christine Benson, buying manager at Selfridges in London, adding that women are continuing to shop for beauty as usual. “They may be cutting down in certain areas, but they won’t compromise when it comes to beauty. Women are prepared to give up a meal in order to save for their beauty must-haves.”
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye