Pretty, Please: Estee Lauder, L'Oreal Sales Say Make-Up Is Back


Consumers around the world are spending less time in masks and more time in makeup, with Estée Lauder reporting a 10% jump in sales for the quarter. That follows impressive results from L’Oréal. And NPD Group says it’s tracked a 19% gain in prestige beauty sales in the U.S.

At Lauder, revenue increased in every category, with sales gains in the double-digits in the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Sales even did well in China within the context of intensified COVID-19 restrictions. Even as people headed back to brick-and-mortar stores for their beauty fix, global digital sales also increased.

Sales climbed to $4.25 billion for Lauder’s third quarter, up 10% from $3.86 billion in the comparable period of the prior-year period. Net earnings rose to $560 million, compared to $460 million in the prior period.



“Every category grew organically, led by fragrance’s outstanding performance globally and the makeup renaissance in western markets,” says Fabrizio Freda, president and chief executive officer, in its announcement. “Eleven brands contributed double-digit organic sales growth and further demonstrated our diversification, empowered by our multiple engines of growth strategy. Consumer demand remained robust even in this more inflationary environment.”

Fragrance sales improved 28%, to $579 million. Skincare, the largest division, gained 6%, to $2.4 billion, while makeup improved 9%, to $1.1 billion.

Freda says he expects the company to produce record results for the full year “despite temporary COVID-driven headwinds that reduced our fourth-quarter outlook. We are confident that our business in China will rebound when COVID abates and accelerate our momentum.”

Lauder’s gains come just after rival L’Oréal also reported banner results, with a 13.5% increase in comparable sales and a 19% leap in revenue.

It too reported gains in all divisions, with consumers showing little reaction to rising prices.

NPD Group says that in the U.S., prestige beauty products sales reached $5.3 billion, a 19% increase compared to the same period last year. And here, hair and makeup are the big winners, up 22% to $1.8 billion. Lipstick gained a sizzling 44%. Hair product sales climbed 32% to $744.7 million, fragrance up 18% to $1.1 billion, with sales of skincare items rising 11% to $1.6 billion.

“Consumers are ready to get dressed up again,” said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry advisor, The NPD Group, in its report. “Valentine’s Day provided an additional lift to fragrance sales, which have enjoyed strong growth throughout the pandemic. Fragrance has become a mood-boosting luxury that people are buying not only as a gift for others, but also as a treat for themselves.”

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