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Millennials Driving Down the Prestige Skin-Care Market

As the new generation's tastes continue to control the market, antiaging skin-care took a hit in 2015.

Talk about a revolution.

Skin-care, a category that has led growth in the prestige market for the past 10 years, took a dip in 2015, as demand for its formerly predominant antiaging segment, propelled by Baby Boomers, is being driven down by the might of the Millennial, a generation that favors a preventative approach to skin care — if they are using it at all.

“The prestige beauty industry has reached a new milestone and a moment of potentially fundamental change,” said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst for The NPD Group.

Earlier this year, WWD reported that the lines between skin care and makeup are becoming increasingly blurred, as evidenced by prestige sales figures in 2015. Makeup rose to 13 percent growth, eclipsing the overall prestige market’s 7 percent sales increase. Comparatively, skin-care sales grew only 3 percent.

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An NPD study about facial skin-care habits revealed that 72 percent of consumers use skin-care products to “look my age,” while a similar study on makeup usage revealed 76 percent gave a similar answer to the same question about makeup.

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NPD found that the top appearance benefits that consumers seek from skin care include evening of skin tone, lightening of dark spots and complexion-brightening. Makeup products offering these benefits are among the category’s top performers, including contour makeup, a hot category for 2015.

In 2015, CC creams and makeup primers grew 58 percent, contributing $490 million to the $16 billion marketplace.

As the demand for light-coverage, skin-prepping products rose in 2015, antiaging products experienced a decline in sales for the first time since 2013. In the skin-care market, specific areas of growth  included facial cleansers, exfoliators, oil and shine control, toners and masks, but the biggest uptick came from products with an emphasis on complexion preparation.

It’s not that Millennials are eschewing skin care altogether. Instead, they’re taking a holistic approach, focusing on preparation and prevention instead of reactive antiaging products designed to correct existing problems.

NPD found that Millennial users are more likely to seek products with doctor endorsements and/or with natural and organic ingredients. Brands with a natural or clinical orientation now represent the largest combined share of prestige skin-care sales.

Another microtrend in the works is the rise of supplements. Face supplement sales have quintupled since 2013, reaching a market of $4.1 million in 2015.

As the influence of the Boomer withers, brands will have to adjust their strategies to appeal to the tastes of the younger consumer.

“Across beauty, the categories, brands and products that appeal [to] younger [customers] have become the leaders of growth. Once overlooked product types are at the forefront, as are new or smaller brands once thought of as less significant,” Grant said.