According to new research from Mintel, after experiencing a 2% decline from 2011-2013, the lip cosmetics segment posted gains of nearly 9% between 2012 and 2014, with sales poised to reach nearly $1.4 billion this year.
Compare this to the 6.4% ($4.8 billion) growth for the facial cosmetics market and 4.2% ($3.4 billion) gains for eye make-up during that same time period, and we can see how well the category is performing.
Highest reported use
"Lip cosmetics have the highest overall reported use among color cosmetics. Lip balm, lipstick, and lip gloss all have similar rates of penetration, suggesting that many women rely on a suite of lip products depending on the occasion or desired look," says Shannon Romanowski, beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel.
"The addition of skin care benefits including moisturizing and softening also provide some added functional benefits. Sales of lip products are on the rise, as more women may be returning to the segment."
According to the market researcher, bold lip colors continue to be the one point trend, with nearly one third of lip product users aged 18-24 looking for intense lip colors, compared to less than 20% of respondents aged 25+.
This trend-driven and cyclical nature of the category has elevated the status of lip make-up, making it a ‘must have’ item for many women.
Mass vs Prestige
Though Mintel research finds that color cosmetics users rely on mass brands, it seems many are inclined to turn to prestige brands for facial cosmetics.
"Facial cosmetics, in general, are viewed as higher-risk purchases – women want to be sure that products are appropriate for their skin type and tone and therefore rely on in-store samples and consultants for guidance,” says Romanowski.
“On the other hand, users of lip cosmetics, especially lip balm, are more inclined to purchase from budget brands in comparison to users of facial and eye cosmetics. Lip products are likely perceived as low-risk purchases, driven in part by their lower prices in comparison to face and eye make-up.”
“Ultimately, retailers are challenged to help women navigate the sometimes overwhelming color cosmetics category, especially when it comes to higher-risk–and higher-priced purchases such as facial cosmetics," she ends.