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A New FPG Says Poll: Beauty Products

Over a lifetime, women spend a significant amount of time and money achieving their own, personal image of beauty. In fact, in the US alone, $80 billion was spent on cosmetics and related beauty products in 2017. Given the size of the cosmetics market in the US, consumers are faced with nearly unlimited options in terms of which brands to purchase.

Recently, we polled a random, national sample of just over 750 females, ages 18 and above, on the topic of beauty products.  The survey  was focused on brand and product usage/frequency, purchase habits and influencers, as well as other beauty topics and trends.  We wanted to understand how women shop for and use beauty products, particularly cosmetics.  In most cases, the data has been divided by age so that trends and patterns across the age groups of 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64 and 65+ could be easily studied and identified.

First, respondents were asked how many days a week they wear or apply a cosmetic product of any type.  Of the 756 women that answered this question, 33 reported that they do not use cosmetics at all.  Those respondents were not asked any further questions.  The data for the remainder of the questions is comprised of the responses of the 723 residual respondents.  Of those respondents, 89% report wearing or applying a cosmetic product of some type at least three days a week.  Nearly half (49%)  told us that they wear or apply a cosmetic product every single day of the week.  Approximately 11% of respondents wear or apply a cosmetic product two days a week or less, with just under half (5%) of those respondents reporting that they do not regularly wear or use cosmetics during a typical week.

Weekly usage frequency across different age groups is quite consistent, with the exception of 55-64 year olds, whose data shows that they are more likely to wear or apply a cosmetic product every single day of the week compared to the other age groups.


We asked respondents to tell us the one factor that most influences their cosmetic purchases.  Overall, brand is the biggest factor, followed by price, and then user reviews.  Brand is most important to those ages 35+, while user reviews are most important for 18-34 year olds.  Price is an important factor across all age groups, but is most important to those ages 18-24.  Women 55+ are more concerned with ingredients than any other age group. This group also indicates special offers and promotions are important to them..

We found that not only does beauty take money, it makes money.  Respondents were asked to tell us the most they spend on any one cosmetic product, with pricing ranging from $0-10 to $50 or more.   The least number of respondents (6%) are spending less than $10 on any one cosmetic product.  More than one-quarter – and the majority – of respondents (27%) report spending $50 and upward on any one cosmetic product.  Respondents are rather evenly distributed across the other price ranges.

Women ages 18-34 are spending slightly more on cosmetics than their more mature counterparts.  Approximately 67% of respondents age 18-34 report spending $30+ compared to ages 35+, among which 57% are spending $30+.  The age group most likely to spend over $50 on any one cosmetic product is women ages 55-64.   Interestingly, these same women also appear to be second to ages 65+ as most likely to spend less than $10 on any one cosmetic product.

A list of well-known cosmetic brands was given to respondents, and they were asked which one brand they purchase most often.  All but a few of the listed brands were spoken for by at least one respondent, although certain brands are clearly more popular than others.  Mass market brands Maybelline and CoverGirl both come in at 9%. Higher-end brands, Clinique and MAC, come in at 7% and 6%, respectively.  L’Oréal Paris, another mass market brand, also comes in at 6%.

Shopping for cosmetics is something that many women enjoy to some degree.  In fact, 46% of respondents told us that they love shopping for cosmetics, and that they are always on the lookout for new brands, trends, and products to try.  Similarly, 40% of women told us that they don’t mind shopping for cosmetics and will sometimes make an impulse cosmetic purchase just because they saw something they liked, even if it wasn’t something they needed.  Only 14% of respondents reported that they do not enjoy shopping for cosmetics, and only do so when a certain product is needed.  Younger women, ages 18-34, are most likely to actively shop for and seek out new cosmetic brands, trends, and products. Women ages 55+ are more likely to only buy cosmetics when needed.

Most respondents (64%) shop for and purchase cosmetic products at least once a month.  Nearly 10% of respondents report purchasing cosmetic products once a week or more.  The majority of women ages 18-54 (77%) are shopping for and purchasing cosmetic products once a month or more, while the majority of women ages 55+ are shopping for cosmetics once a month or less.

The majority of respondents (58%) report shopping for and purchasing their cosmetic products most often at a physical store location.  Almost 34% of respondents report splitting their cosmetic shopping and purchasing equally between online and in store, with nearly half (49%) of those respondents being between the ages of 18-34.

We then asked respondents to tell us at which retailer type they shop for and purchase their cosmetics products most often.  Specialty beauty stores, such as Sephora and Ulta, represent the retail channel at which the highest percentage of respondents (32.8%) are purchasing their cosmetics.  Drug stores (such as Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens) followed at 20%, with mass market retailers (such as Walmart and Target) and department stores (such as Nordstrom, Macy’s and Dillard’s) shadowing at 17% and 17%, respectively.

Among the major retail channels, mass market retailers have the most even spread of shopper/purchaser ages.  Respondents ages 55+ are far more likely to shop for and purchase cosmetic products at department stores, while women ages 18-34 are far more likely to shop at specialty beauty stores.  The data shows that loyalty to specialty beauty stores steadily decreases with age, while loyalty to department stores steadily increases with age.  Across the 18-54 age groups, respondents are shopping and purchasing at specialty beauty stores more than any other retail channel.  Respondents in the 55-64 age group prefer drug stores,, while ages 65+ prefer department stores.

We were curious to know if primer and finishing/setting products, which are newer to some consumers’ beauty bags, are a part of respondents’ beauty routines.   The data reflects a nearly 65% usage of primer and/or finishing/setting spray among respondents; almost 30% are using both primer and finishing/setting products, 29% of respondents are using primer only, and just over 5% are using a finishing/setting product only.  Approximately 36% of respondents are not using either of these products.  Perhaps these respondents haven’t yet discovered these products or do not feel them a necessary addition to their cosmetic product lineup.

As with other consumables, cosmetics have shelf-life guidelines.  For example, it is suggested that mascara be replaced every three months, lipstick every year, and powders every two years (Cruel).  However, most respondents report using their cosmetic products as long as they feel they should/can use them, not following shelf-life guidelines.  In fact, 7% of respondents reported not even knowing there is such a thing as cosmetic shelf-life guidelines.  Only 31% of respondents report that they absolutely adhere to such cosmetic shelf-life guidelines.

Almost 85% of respondents report it is at least somewhat important that the cosmetics products they purchase be “cruelty-free”.  When it comes to cosmetic products, cruelty-free is loosely defined as products that have been “…manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals” (Google Search).  Consumers often see this claim on cosmetic packaging and advertising, although there is more to being cruelty-free than whether or not animal testing has been done.  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) provides a list of companies that “…have verified that neither they nor their ingredient suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for their ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and won’t do so in the future” (Johnson).

Lastly, using open-ended text, we asked respondents to tell us what they think is currently the biggest beauty trend.  Among the long list of mentions, many involved eyes and brows, contouring and highlighting, and various nude, natural and matte references.

Written by Ann Ali

Cruel, Jessica. “Chances Are You Used Expired Mascara This Morning.” POPSUGAR Beauty, POPSUGAR, 2 Oct. 2017, www.popsugar.com/beauty/When-Throw-Makeup-Away-Guidelines-Cosmetic-Life-Span-1124422.
Google Search. Google. 11 April 2018. Web. 11 April 2018.
Johnson, Kim. “What Does ‘Cruelty-Free’ Really Mean?” peta2, peta2, 3 May 2017, www.peta2.com/vegan-life/what-does-cruelty-free-mean/.