Cosmetics companies pivoted for lockdowns and masks

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Cosmetics companies pivoted for lockdowns and masks

Products for soothing the skin have been in demand, since mask-wearing has caused trouble for many. [CJ OLIVE YOUNG]

Products for soothing the skin have been in demand, since mask-wearing has caused trouble for many. [CJ OLIVE YOUNG]

 
With Myeong-dong in central Seoul a veritable ghost town and cosmetics sales hit hard by the pandemic, companies in the business are desperately trying to adjust, pitching their products for the locked down and the ever-masked.  
 
The main pivot, they say, is from colors to basic skin care and health-related items. Fuzzy, feel-good concepts like inner beauty are also mentioned.
 
CJ Olive Young, which is the largest cosmetics retailer in the country, says products for soothing the skin sold well in the first ten months of last year. According to the company, which is currently preparing for an initial public offering, sales of products with panthenol, tea tree and cica were up 30 percent on year during that period.
 
Sales of cosmetics products with specific functions and medical effects sold at dermatology clinics and pharmacies were notable. The perception that these products are cure-alls for skin problems helped drive demand for them.
 
Dongkook Pharmaceutical and Daewoong Pharmaceutical say that products that have been around for years tended to do well during the pandemic. Kolmar Korea says that the sales of basic skin care products were strong in 2020.
 
“As immunity and health are major topics during the coronavirus pandemic, there are more consumers that desire fundamentally healthy skin, and their expectations for beauty items have become simpler and more straightforward,” said Jin Jayanne, the executive vice president of business development at Beautystreams Korea, a global beauty consulting firm. “This is why the market for pharmaceutical cosmetics with treatment features became bigger.”
 
A photograph from Dongkook Pharmaceutical's Instagram account that advertises a cream product from its functional cosmetic brand Centellian 24. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A photograph from Dongkook Pharmaceutical's Instagram account that advertises a cream product from its functional cosmetic brand Centellian 24. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
Classic makeup products did not do so well.  
 
“Makeup items with colors is a category that took the biggest hit during the coronavirus pandemic,” Beautystreams said in a statement in a report published last October. “Due to social distancing and mask-wearing, use of those makeup products markedly decreased.”
 
An industry report jointly written by London-based fashion media company Business of Fashion (BoF) and McKinsey & Company said that the global sales of the beauty industry decreased by a range between 10 and 30 percent during the first half of 2020, and a significant proportion of the decrease was attributed to makeup products that add color.  
 
Global market research firm NPD Group predicts that sales of makeup products are likely to decrease by 2 percent each year from 2019 to 2021.
 
Some makeup sold well.
 
According to the NPD Group, during the second half, sales of high-end eye makeup grew 6 percent compared to the same period in 2019. BoF stated that popular makeup categories shifted from those to the lips to those for the eyes during a popular shopping festival period last June, and the sales of eye makeup rose by 159 percent on year in 2020.
 
Online conference calls and meetings are helping to drive demand. People who need to attend these sorts of discussions are going for a more defined look that plays well on camera. On YouTube, videos on makeup for online meetings and makeup for interviews have been popular.
 
CJ Olive Young says that mascaras and eyeliners marketed for their long-lasting features performed better than in previous years.
 
Companies report that eye palettes with basic rather than showy colors were in demand.  
 
Products designed and marketed as mask-proof makeup emerged as favored items. In the past, products that emphasized moisturized and glowing skin were the most sought after. Nowadays, foundation and cushion foundation compacts designed not to smudge on masks are in demand.
 
In 2020, the beauty industry in general was stalled, but opportunities also arose. An increasing number of people were seeing beauty products as equipment to boost their self-esteem and self-care instead of buying the products to impress others.
 
Many consumers used beauty products as a means to relieve their stress from the coronavirus pandemic. Not only cosmetic products, but also hair and body products were rising in popularity. According to the industry report by BoF and McKinsey & Company, sales of nail care products rose by 300 percent and hair dye products by 200 percent on Amazon compared to 2019.
 
The market for health supplements, which has been steadily growing in recent years, is projected to grow further this year. As the importance of health care is bigger than ever, CJ Olive Young’s sales of health supplements rose by 34 percent on year from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2020. The public’s main interests have expanded from red ginseng, vitamins and probiotics to include collagen and hyaluronic acid, which provide for the skin, and products for the eyes and liver.
 
Clio has established a division specifically for health products and is expected to release collagen products dedicated to women in their 20s and 30s.
 
"The tendency for focusing on oneself and developing natural beauty has increased,” said Jin. “The movement for rest and stress relief through beauty rituals will accelerate.”
 
BY YOO JI-YOEN   [lee.jeeyoung1@joongang.co.kr]
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