Beauty executives expect strong holiday cosmetics and fragrance sales

US inflation rates may be near 40-year highs, but consumers will still buy lipsticks, perfumes and other essential beauty products. That’s the prediction of several CEOs of cosmetics companies, who gave their views on the economy and the consumer during third-quarter earnings calls.

Coty CEO Sue Nabi observed that even in tough economic times, women will still choose and buy cosmetics, but the product mix might be different than in previous recessions. Leonard Lauder introduced the world to the Lipstick Index, the theory that beauty product sales increase during recessions. Nabi says the Lipstick Index has been replaced by a Fragrance Index; figures can confirm it. In the third quarter, prestige fine fragrance sales increased 11% to $1.3 billion, according to The NPD Group. The double-digit gains come a year after prestige fragrance sales soared 50%, according to NPD.

Overall, sales of prestige beauty products in the United States increased by 15% in the third quarter. Hair care led the way, rising 23% to around $854 million. Makeup sales rose 15% to $2.1 billion, followed by skincare, up 14% to $1.7 billion; perfume, up 11% to $1.3 billion.

ELF Beauty Chairman and CEO Tarang Amin said he was “very confident” about the upcoming holiday season. So confident, in fact, that ELF has moved away from holiday gift sets and focused on basics.

Earlier this year, Estée Lauder Companies Chairman William Lauder said he was “cautiously optimistic” about Holiday 2022. Since then, the company has thrown caution to the wind. Earlier this week, ELC bought Tom Ford in a blockbuster $2.3 billion deal.

Donovan B. Sanford