Lipstick loses its gloss to pandemic

Friday, August 21st, 2020 08:00 |
Lipstick, the ultimate display of sophitication is no longer a necessity as women mask their faces to stop spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Photo/Courtesy

Lipstick, the universal beauty product that has withstood effects of a global economic recession, is reeling under effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, matters do not looking glossy for the whole beauty industry.

With people worldwide covering their faces with face masks to protect themselves from contracting coronavirus, no beauty product has felt the impact of the pandemic more than the lipstick.

Suzie Wakobi, the founder and brand ambassador  of  Suzie Beauty, a Kenyan cosmetics outfit, says lipstick sales have dropped drastically since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Change of roadmap

“In general the beauty retail industry in Kenya has been adversely affected and we had to close for a while. Fortunately we have a loyal clientele that has turned to online platforms to access our products.

However, the sale of lipstick has been hit hard, but the eye and face products are doing well,” she said.

For Nelly Tuikong, founder of Pauline Cosmetics Ltd, sales of her lipstick brand have dropped by 75 per cent since April.

“We have seen a spike in the eye-make-up products and this is encouraging. We had discontinued this range of products and were only concentrating on finishing our stock.

Now our product roadmap has changed and we are planning to launch new eye make-up products such as eye-liners and mascara before the end of the year because we have seen a significant rise in sales,” she said.

This scenario seems to be playing out across the continent.

According to Business Insider Africa, the sale of lipstick across the globe has dropped while demand for products such as the eye-liner are on the rise as women prefer to “hype” the only visible part of their face – the eyes–and downplay other areas such as the cheeks and lips, which are covered by the mask.

Lipstick index

Lipcare and colour sales in Amazon online shop dropped by 15 per cent while the prices fell by 28 per cent in April.

The drop in the sale of lipstick is worrying beauty industry players worldwide as it is challenging the resilience of the product through periods of economic hardship.

It is putting to test the “lipstick index”, a term coined by Estee Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder after he noticed that women substituted items such as clothes and shoes for more practical and cheaper purchases like lipstick in the 2000 recession. 

Although this assertion was largely debunked in the 2010s following the emergence of the nail art fad, lipstick is still widely considered a necessity in every woman’s handbag.

A report by Imarc, a research firm, shows that the global lipstick market was worth Sh 1.4 trillion ($13.2 billion) in 2019.

New realities

But the sale of lipstick globally is bound to get a punch in the mouth as a result of the outbreak of the virus.

For instance, in Japan, a household expenditure survey for March found a 22.2 per cent drop for lipstick sales  from the same month in 2019, showing that many people were not buying the product.

Research firm McKinsey says the realities of working from home, physical distancing, and mask wearing, have made beauty products such as make-up and fragrance less important.

For prestige brands, the firm estimates a 55 and 75 per cent decline in cosmetic and fragrance sales compared to last year.

The firm projects that when consumers return to work, many will continue to wear masks, further slowing makeup’s recovery.

“One possible exception is above-the-mask treatments. In China, Alibaba reported eye-cosmetic sales increased 150 per cent, month over month, during the week of February 18, 2020,” an article in their website notes.

Other players in the cosmetics industry in Kenya are also feeling the heat. Rosamarie Njoki from Everbeauty Cosmetics in Nairobi says Covid-19 has affected business adversely in the last six months.

Of all the beauty products on the shelves, none has been more affected by the pandemic than lipstick.

Njoki says lipstick sales have dropped by between 40 and 30 per cent in the last six months, a significant dip given the product is considered a must-have for many women.

“Some women are buying the Matt brand because it does not smudge, but mainly the sale of the product has dropped because some people do not see the need to apply lipstick when they are supposed to wear a mask throughout the day,” she said.

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