‘Lipstick effect’ can't brighten cosmetics outlook in era of the face mask
Published: Mar 01, 2020 09:08 PM

 Photo: IC

The cosmetics industry in China has felt the pinch during the coronavirus outbreak as many consumers choose to stay at home, lowering their demand for makeup, and even the "lipstick effect" is not playing its role in the era of the face mask.

Sales of cosmetics in China have plummeted since the virus attack, but compensating consumption will bounce back after the epidemic is constrained, industry representatives and experts said.

"Due to safety control measures, the passenger flow of all shopping malls has decreased and our business has been affected. But our online business functions well," French cosmetics group L'Oréal said in a note sent to the Global Times on Sunday.

"The fundamentals of the consumption of beauty products are still there. I am confident the market will come back after a dip, as we've seen in the past with other epidemics. And it will allow the market to bounce back even stronger than before," said Fabrice Megarbane, president and CEO of L'Oréal China.

L'Oréal's research and innovation center in Shanghai, its plant in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province and its distribution centers have reopened since February 10, the company said.

Japanese cosmetics firm Shiseido Co, whose sales in the Chinese market accounted for 20 percent of its total, saw its sales fall 55 percent during the Chinese Spring Festival holidays from a year earlier due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the company said in early February.

A sales assistant of a French cosmetics brand in Beijing told the Global Times that her counter could only see one or two customers per day compared with the normal level of seven or eight.

According to an industry report released by consulting firm Bain & Co and Alibaba's Tmall platform, the 2020 Chinese Lunar New Year holiday witnessed a 30 percent decline of makeup products on a yearly basis, while high-end beauty products dropped by 40 percent.

"The key factor is the turning point for the epidemic, as when it is fully contained, the cosmetics industry will recover," said Chen Min, CEO and founder of industry outlet Donger Media.

Chen believed the sound development of the cosmetics industry would not be disrupted by the outbreak in the long term, based on its growth potential.

Lipstick might have given up its dominant position among makeup products during the era of the face mask, yet there are other beauty products focused on eyes and eyebrows that are becoming popular. 

Data from China's cross-border social shopping and lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu showed that searches for eye makeup rose from January 23 to February 27. Note views on "mask half-face makeup" topic recorded 5.4 million over that period.

"For the makeup sector, foundation, lipstick and mascara cream are likely to first recover in the post-epidemic period, while for the whole health industry, as the disease has further taught us the importance of personal hygiene, hand sanitizer and disinfectant will sell well," Chen noted.