By  on January 28, 2011

Compared with a 10 percent decrease in prestige fragrance sales in 2009, one might say 2010 was a sort of banner year.

Total prestige fragrance sales last year were $2.5 billion, up 1 percent from 2009, according to The NPD Group.

The success rippled through the entire prestige beauty market, with skin care catching fire, growing 8 percent to $2.7 billion, while sales of makeup — the largest of the three businesses — rose 3 percent to $3.2 billion.

Looking at the 4 percent growth in the total prestige beauty market to about $8.5 billion and the 11 percent positive swing in fragrance sales, Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst at The NPD Group, peered into her crystal ball and said, “positive. [Beauty] is off to a good start.”

Discussing trends in an interview after presenting 2010 beauty sales to top industry executives Tuesday at The Plaza, Grant noted that by June of last year, skin care sales surpassed pre-recession levels. Thursday she added that the upturn in makeup began around Mother’s Day and fragrance by late summer.

“In the last few years, new products were selling at the expense of existing products,” said Grant. “Consumers did an either-or.”

“This year, new products had a halo effect, benefiting existing products.”

When it came to brands, notable introductions included the Bleu de Chanel fragrance launch for the fall season, followed by Gucci Guilty and Chance Eau Tendre, a spring entry. Chanel, Clinique and Lancôme were highlights of the makeup category, while Clinique and the Estée Lauder brand swept the top three spots in skin care.

This year, the U.S. skin care market has to contend with strong comparative sales from 2010. Grant expects “all three categories to do well,” in 2011, with skin care perhaps up 4 percent and makeup maybe up 3 to 5 percent. Fragrance, she said, could pick up 1 to 3 percent, possibly due to easier comparisons from a less-than-stellar (but still positive) 2010. That will depend on the performance of fragrances launched later this year, Grant remarked.

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