French prestige beauty market sales reach €3 billion in 2019

In 2019, the French prestige beauty market was worth €3 billion in revenue, according to market research group NPD. This was equivalent to a 1% downturn, a slight improvement over 2018, when revenue was down 2%. It is worth noting however that the figures provided by NPD do not include the revenue generated by the private labels of beauty distributors, nor that of products sold exclusively through the latter.

Two factors seem to have contributed to making selective beauty sales in France more dynamic last year. First of all, the Black Friday promotions at the end of November, when sales for high-end beauty products increased by 22% over 2018, equivalent to a revenue growth of €35 million. Also, in the months of November and December, during the year-end festivities, sales were up by 1%. A limited growth spurt, but a highly satisfactory one given the social situation in France.

“Against an adverse backdrop of social unrest, there were some positive signs in the French high-end beauty market at the end of the year,” said Mathilde Lion, European beauty market expert at NPD. “Despite a slight decrease in total revenue in 2019, down 1% compared to 2018, sales of skincare and perfumes were relatively stable, while the prestige beauty sector’s decline slowed down. It was good news for retailers, since there were clear signs of improvement in H2 2019 too,” she added.

Perfumes were the main beneficiaries of the Black Friday promotions. They are also the largest segment within the high-end beauty market, and their sales in 2019 were stable. Men’s fragrance sales were up by 1%. The facial skincare segment recorded an increase in sales of €5 million over 2018, notably driven by sales of hydrating creams, up 7%, and those of skin toners, up 9%. Also notable was the performance of the super-premium skincare segment (products whose sale price is in excess of €350), which recorded the biggest rise within the category, growing 59% in three years. Finally, sales of gift boxes were on the rise across all prestige beauty market categories in 2019, rising 5% for fragrances, 8% for skincare and 5% for make-up. “A boost that was especially welcome in the make-up market, which globally recorded a 6% slump in 2019,” said NPD.

In conclusion, Lion said that “2019 brought some clarity about consumption expenditure trends. Facial skincare stimulated the growth of the prestige beauty segment, while the success of super-premium brands is positive for the luxury market. The fragrance category’s performance showed that there is still room for growth, especially in men’s fragrances. However, despite the positive signs displayed by the prestige beauty market in the final months of 2019, the forecast for 2020 is extremely uncertain due to the current travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, and the risk of supply chain disruptions in the coming months.”