Mineral makeup has gone mainstream.
Once confined to specialty shops, high-end department stores and mail order, mineral-based foundations, concealers and blushes have carved out a place in the cosmetics assortments of grocery chains and major independents with large enough sections to accommodate the wide variety available for female shoppers.
“I see it continuing to grow at a fairly steady rate. It is not a fad, but a trend,” said Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing. He refers to this class of products as “masstige” — prestige cosmetics for the mass market.
Publix Super Markets has been quick to take advantage of this trend. The retailer has been stocking mineral cosmetics for almost a year.
“Sales have been good,” reported Maria Brous, spokeswoman for the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain. “Customers have reacted positively to these products, and their buying power speaks loudly to this.”
Mineral makeup is part of the increasing volume for cosmetics in food stores, with $2 million and over in annual sales (excluding supercenters). Data from the Nielsen Co. for the $454 million cosmetics category shows a 0.5% increase in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 14, 2008. This is the third consecutive year of sales increases for the category.
Meanwhile, the segments doing especially well are facial makeup (cream and powder foundation) and concealers. Recent sales hikes of 4.7% and 3.5%, respectively, come on the heels of two consecutive years of increased sales.
New product SKUs totaled 642 for facial cosmetics and eye makeup featuring mineral ingredients or making mineral claims for the year ending Oct. 2, 2008, according to Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products. Previous years' totals included 451 SKUs in 2007, 319 in 2006 and 132 in 2005 — clearly an increasing trend.
“We are seeing a huge trend toward the mainstreaming of mineral makeup, with brands like Neutrogena, L'Oreal and Maybelline leading the charge,” said Wendy Lewis, president of Wendy Lewis & Co., a global beauty consultancy. “Today, the category includes premium brands and mass brands alike.”
To see how mineral makeup has been integrated into the supermarket cosmetics assortments, SN visited Wegmans Food Markets in Easton, Pa. In the health and beauty section, cosmetics were displayed in six gondolas. The following products were available:
Maybelline “Mineral Power” with micro-minerals (liquid foundation, powder foundation, concealer, natural lipcolor).
Neutrogena “Mineral Sheers” (powder foundation, liquid foundation, blush, liquid makeup).
L'Oreal “Bare Naturale” (foundation, powder, glow, blush, finish).
Physicians Formula (pressed powder, loose powder, liquid foundation, blush).
Revlon “ColorStay” mineral collection (blush, eye shadow, lip glaze, foundation).
Cover Girl “Trublend” minerals makeup collection.
What exactly is mineral makeup? What are some of the key ingredients that set it apart from conventional cosmetics?
In comparing conventional and mineral makeup, both varieties contain minerals, but only the latter contains their pure form. Some of the main ingredients are mica, which provides skin with an even-looking appearance, as well as iron dioxide, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
“Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have been attributed with certain benefits, including a calming effect, anti-inflammatory benefits and even mild SPF protection,” said Ann Francke, natural cosmetics expert and former marketing executive with Procter & Gamble. “But if the products don't perform, then consumers won't use them.”
Mineral makeup has its believers though — a “cult following” that includes teens, older women and “green” consumers, according to Lewis.
“The advantages are that it is light, formulated with micro-fine powdered minerals that are found naturally and offer sun protection,” she said. “Mineral makeup is a bridge between color makeup and treatment of skin care.”
The challenge for supermarkets is to fit these products into their present health and beauty sections. At Publix, space for mineral makeup has come from other facial powders, according to spokeswoman Brous. But there is no set space management formula across the chain. The space for cosmetics, number of SKUs stocked and promotions offered depend on each location.
“They are merchandised differently due to different store prototypes,” she said. “Each individual store is assessed when determining which brand of cosmetics to place in that store.”
According to Wisner, many supermarket chains cut in sections within the regular cosmetics sections for the new natural products like mineral makeup.
“Any major supermarket will put in 4-8 feet of natural skin care and cosmetics,” he said. “Certainly all the new stores do this. If you walk into a United Markets in Lubbock, Texas, for example, you see well-executed efforts in this direction.”
Then there are retailers that have made a commitment to the category. For example, Kroger has reconfigured its cosmetics aisles at three stores in the Cincinnati trading area to make health and beauty products more accessible and appealing to female shoppers. The new look consists of wider aisles, wood and tile flooring, and shelf up-lighting.
The goal of the pilot project was to provide more convenience and ambience for women who are interested in buying cosmetics in the supermarket's HBC section, according to Kroger spokeswoman Meghan Glynn. If all goes well, the approach could be rolled out to other locations, she said.
Analysts familiar with the Kroger test say that its success might encourage other supermarket retailers to invest in remodeling their HBC sections for a more conducive atmosphere for selling cosmetics. Grocery stores could thus become a player in “masstige” products and compete with discounters and drug chains for shoppers.
Wisner said chains such as Hy-Vee and others are already heading in a more upscale direction to put the customer in a department store-like comfort zone to buy products such as mineral makeup.
What are the prospects of sales growth for mineral cosmetics?
Francke, the cosmetics expert, believes that the drive toward performance in the natural cosmetics space will only increase in the coming years.
“Another driver is health,” she added. “Many of the chemicals used in conventional cosmetics do have links to health concerns such as cancers, allergies, even to autism.”
Wisner believes that supermarkets need to “get serious” about HBC in general and cosmetics in particular.
“Natural cosmetics is a high-growth area and is part of a category where customers will make trips to other locations for,” he said. “If you let your customer escape to another channel, you're losing a lot more than just that sale, because food is sold in so many places. This is one of the critical issues that supermarkets need to address and get right.”
Sales of mineral makeup, excluding supercenters, in 52 weeks ending Oct. 14, 2008
Source: Nielsen Co.