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Consumers Look for At-Home Solutions to Save

There is an upside for mass marketers in the down economy: Sales of beauty products that accomplish grooming needs at home.

NEW YORK — There is an upside for mass marketers in the down economy: Sales of beauty products that accomplish grooming needs at home.

“If I were a retailer getting ready for this Christmas, I’d put together displays of products for an at-home spa day or home hair colors,” said Thom Blischok, president of Consulting and Innovation for Information Resources Inc.

He added that new IRI research reveals shoppers do want to partake in holiday rituals, they are just doing things differently and taking more comfort in staying home and doing things with friends and family. “Santa’s sleigh will be full, but functional and affordable gifts will win out over discretionary gifts.”

Many women have been doing without their salon services in favor of do-it-yourself beauty. Many admit to trying products such as Clairol’s Natural Instincts, Perfect 10 or Sally Hansen to accomplish grooming they used to pay to have done. Retailers and manufacturers see an uptick in those sales. One chain drug executive even told of how she stopped at one of her stores on the way to a big industry meeting to buy Perfect 10 to do a touch up in her hotel room. According to IRI, sales of Perfect 10 have already surpassed $22 million for the 52-week period ended October 5, 2008, excluding Wal-Mart.

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Stylists have long noted that many women do “in between” root cover-ups, but salons are reporting women aren’t even coming in for routine upkeep. At a salon in Princeton, N.J., one stylist said her business has been cut in half. Nail salon owners also said their chairs are empty.

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Mary Van Praag, senior vice president of sales at Coty, noted that the nail color market was up 5.6 percent year-to-date and that consumption of nail treatments, which had been flat, spiked in the last three months. In addition to at-home manicures, women are looking for speed and multibenefits, she said, citing impressive movement of Sally Hansen’s Color Quick Pen and Complete Care 4-in-One Nail Treatment. Even at-home hair removers are benefitting from the home treatment process.

Gina Drosos, P&G Beauty’s president of Global Personal Care, recently said, “This is the most turbulent economic time that I’ve seen in my 20 years in the business,” said Drosos. She recalled reading in a recent report on household spending that 18 months ago, consumers spent about 20 percent of their income on staple items. That number has since surged to 40 percent.

Retailers said they’ve noticed more women looking for beauty products for at-home use. They believe that has benefitted sales of everything from skin care to styling tools. The question is whether women will return to salons once the economy improves.

Industry consultant Allan Mottus isn’t so sure. “This is a dramatic change in lifestyle,” he said. “People are going longer without getting cars fixed. Up until now we were just going longer, but now some are doing without,” he said. He thinks as shoppers come back to the market they will frequent dollar stores more often to keep saving.

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CVS, lauded by many manufacturers and shoppers as having one of the best nail care departments, is testing Barielle color with a limited-time display in January. The Barielle treatment products are distributed chainwide and merchandised in professional nail care near Orly.