Analysis: Pandemic Exit Drives Demand for Beauty Products

National Lipstick Day, which falls on July 29th, has only been around as an official holiday since 2016, but celebrating lipstick has been around for much, much longer. Lipstick is believed to have been invented about 5,000 years ago when ancient Sumerian men and women used crushed gemstones to add personal flair to their face and lips.

Lipstick has remained a staple of human cultures ever since. Sometimes used as a way to identify social status, sometimes reserved for a special night out, lipstick is a great way to add a little (or a lot) of personality to your day.

So with National Lipstick Day coming up, we thought we’d celebrate in our favorite way: by digging into our data to learn more about online demand for lipstick and other cosmetics.

Has online demand for cosmetics been on the rise? Or have Americans been cutting back? Did COVID-19 bring a huge rush on online demand? Has 2021 seen online demand drop as we’ve seen things begin to reopen across the country?

To find the answers to these questions and more, our data science team analyzed online demand for cosmetics starting in 2019 through the first half of 2021.

Which types of cosmetics experience the most online demand?

To say that “cosmetics” entails a wide variety of products is an understatement. So before diving too deep into the data, we first examined several major types of cosmetics categories to see which ones were the most popular on Amazon.

Here’s a comparison of some of the types of cosmetics categories we analyzed, ranked by how much demand each category saw from January 2020 through June 2021.

Lipstick was the most popular product category, with hair extensions, wigs and accessories a very close second.

Next up was a cluster of categories that received similar levels of demand: makeup remover, lash enhancers and primers, eyeshadow, mascara, and lip gloss. Foundation brushes, eyebrow color, and body bronzers were also fairly popular.

Outside of those top ten categories, we see demand start to drop significantly as category types begin to narrow.

Now that we understand which types of cosmetics see the most demand, let’s dive a bit deeper into some of those categories to see when demand for them is at its highest (and lowest).

Did COVID-19 increase online demand for lipstick?

We wrote this article to celebrate National Lipstick Day, and lipstick just happens to be the most popular cosmetic category in our analysis, so let’s start there:

Online demand for lipstick tumbled from mid-March through April 2020, during the height of the initial COVID-19 lockdowns. This dip was short lived, however, as demand returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of April.

It doesn’t seem that lipstick relies heavily on any particular time of year to drive major sales. Demand peaked at the end of August, and remained consistently high until Spring 2021. This could be a softening of demand as things begin to reopen, or a simple seasonal trend.

For a clearer picture of this potential trend, we next compared monthly demand from 2019 through 2021 so far.

Here we can see that in a “normal” year, online demand for lipstick remains remarkably consistent from month-to-month. So the significant increase in online demand for lipstick last summer was almost certainly a result of Americans starting to go “back out” but preferring to shop for their lipstick online.

The dip in demand we’re seeing in 2021 so far, then, appears to be a return to normal. As more specialty cosmetic shops are opening their doors again, it seems that fewer Americans are seeking out lipstick online.

Despite this dip, however, demand in 2021 is well above 2019’s levels, and ahead of what we were experiencing in mid-2020. So while we wouldn’t expect to see online demand return to the highs we saw in late 2020, it’s clear that plenty of Americans who wouldn’t have turned to online shopping for their lipstick before COVID-19 are sticking with it even as things have begun to reopen.

How did the pandemic impact other types of cosmetics?

Online demand for lipstick was up big in 2020 compared to 2019, especially skyrocketing during the second half of the year. Did other types of cosmetics see the same kinds of trends?

To find out, we compared the change in demand for different types of cosmetics during the second half of 2020 vs. the second half of 2019 to see which ones got the biggest COVID boost.

Cosmetics of all kinds got a major boost in online demand as a result of COVID-19. Online demand during the second half of 2020 was at least double that of 2019 in nearly every category we examined, with only bronzers and eyeshadow bases and primers falling just shy of a 100% increase year over year.

Lips got plenty of attention during COVID-19, as lipstick, lipstick primers, lip liners, and lip gloss had the top four largest increases in demand in this view.

For another look at the widespread impact that COVID had on online demand for cosmetic products, here’s a chart comparing the change in weekly demand for lipstick, hair extensions, makeup remover, lash enhancers, and eyeshadow (the top 5 most popular overall cosmetic categories in our analysis):

Here we see similar trends across most of the different types of cosmetics in our analysis: an immediate dip in the earliest weeks of the pandemic followed by a rapid rebound to “typical” levels. Then during late summer and early fall 2020, demand surged in most categories.

Each of our top five most popular cosmetics categories has also seen online demand decline over the most recent months of 2021, further reinforcing the conclusion we drew from our lipstick data.

To close out this view, here’s our 2019 through 2021 view for the rest of our top five cosmetics categories:

During a normal year, hair extensions, wigs & accessories see demand rise through the late summer, peaking during the fall. 2020 actually saw trends stay true to form, only at an increased rate. 2021 so far has seen those trends remain elevated, but it appears that demand may be softening for this category as well.

Makeup remover had a strong 2020 compared to 2019, even during the depths of the early COVID dip in March and April. Demand was at its peak in early 2021, but has also begun to drop to 2020 levels as things have begun to reopen.

Online demand for lash enhancers bucked the trend of most of our other top categories, with demand actually surging immediately following the initial lockdowns, then softening over the summertime.

Demand then surged at the start of 2021, and has trended down as the summer began. 2020 saw a similar dip in demand during the summertime, but 2019 actually saw demand peak in July, so it will be interesting to see whether this is a “return to normal” or the beginning of a softening of online demand for lash enhancers.

Online demand for eyeshadow in 2020 saw demand crater during March and April, then rebounding strongly in May. Demand then rose over the fall and peaked in December, mirroring that of 2019’s pre-COVID trends only with much higher overall demand.

Once again, 2021 saw the year start with high online demand, only to see it soften as the year has progressed and the world has begun to reopen.

In summation, it looks like online demand for most cosmetics categories is slowing down. More people are going out, which would most likely indicate a rise in overall demand for cosmetic products, so the most likely explanation is that as more brick and mortar locations have reopened, people are less likely to be shopping for cosmetics online.

A lesson for brands

Our data shows that COVID-19 has had a major impact on online demand for all types of cosmetics, including lipstick.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may see online demand for cosmetics continue to decline as more shops reopen, but we might also see demand stay high as more people have grown used to buying their cosmetics online.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears
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Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears

**Instrument Pricing Changes Tune Amid Record Inflation** Compared to 2022, consumers should expect to pay more for musical instruments, but the rate of inflation shows signs of slowing. **The backstory:** America’s most popular musical instruments saw a notable price increase in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rate of inflation eased in Q4 ’22. **Why it matters:** Slowing inflation within this product category could indicate economic pressures like increased demand, rising labor costs, and supply chain disruptions are easing across the consumer landscape. **What we’re seeing:** The average cost of musical instruments increased 7.5% from 2021 – 2022; however, when analyzing individual increases year over year, some instruments saw price increases as high as 21%. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-02Lwk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/02Lwk/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones experienced a 21.73% increase compared to 2021 * Trumpets +20.08% * Flutes +18.6% * Recorders +16.13% * Saxophones +13.63% * Clarinets +10.55% * Drums +5.41% * Ukuleles +5.17% **However:** Inflation among these same instruments was significantly less in Q4 ’22 compared to Q4 ’21. In some cases, prices decreased from Q4 ’21 – Q4 ‘22: <iframe title="Price Change for Instruments — Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-6X6GZ" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6X6GZ/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones +11.23% * Flutes +10.41% * Saxophones +5.94% * Clarinets +5.59% * Trumpets +3.10% * Recorders +2.85% * Drums -2.59% * Ukuleles -8.46% **Moreover:** Certain instruments saw inflation reverse in 2022. On average, prices for melodicas, guitars, and violas saw their prices decrease by 4.41%, 3.19%, and 0.97%, respectively. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-0Tefk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0Tefk/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="259" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Diving Deeper:** Inflation was more significant when comparing Q4 ’21 to Q4 ’20 than when comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, indicating a slowing down of price increases for consumers. <iframe title="YOY Q4 Price Change for Instruments — 2020 – 2022" aria-label="Stacked Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-p6iqt" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/p6iqt/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="206" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * In Q4 ’21, average prices for all instruments were up 8.89% compared to Q4 ’20. * When comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, the average price for all instruments only increased by 2.65%. **The takeaway:** While consumers should expect to pay higher prices for instruments this year, overall inflation impact within this product category appears to be slowing down. With National Ukulele Day coming up on February 2, now is a great time for ecommerce brands to take advantage of slowing economic worries and reach new consumers. * Want Pattern’s data science team to power your brand with consumer insights like these? Contact us to [request more information](https://pattern.com/contact-us/) today.

Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us
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Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us

It’s safe to say consumers and brands alike are eager for a change to the pattern of rising inflation, steadily increasing in many ecommerce categories . Pattern’s internal team’s data scientists analysis of instrument pricing shows a glimmer of hope that inflation may be slowing, which would be great news for brands selling online.

At Pattern, we’re interested in and monitoring trends and news related to pricing since price is a key factor in a brand’s profitability (as explained in the Ecommerce Equation). When brands are able to optimize their price, conversions, and traffic, they can optimize their profitability. And profitability leads to better allocation of resources, better brand control, and gives leaders the ability to expand their presence to new markets worldwide.

YoY Instrument Pricing Increased at a Slower Pace

When analyzing the pricing changes of instruments from 2021 to 2022, our teams found that prices increased, but at a slower rate than from 2020 to 2021.

As shown below, the year over year Q4 changes show quite a lower rate of increase.

Inflation Improvements Raise Profitability

Because inflation impacts online shopping behaviors, lower inflation can lead to better overall profitability for brands. This idea, of course, is nuanced, but Pattern’s Ecommerce Equation can help illustrate the general principle.

When inflation rises, consumers change their spending habits. Shoppers spend more time researching products, forego premium, higher-priced brands, and buy more in bulk. Brands tend to see a loss of loyalty as they’re forced to raise prices.

Price is a key variable in the Ecommerce Equation: price x conversion x traffic = profitability. As inflation lowers, brands can expect better performance in all of these areas—more traffic as spending habits return to normal, higher conversion from returning customers, and price that better fits consumer demand. As inflation lowers and these variables stabilize, brands will see profitability increase.

Raise Your Profitability with Pattern

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern is obsessed with gathering data that helps our brand partners succeed. We’ve created best-in-class technology, models, and analytics to understand changes on the horizon and inform our decisions. With an incredible team of data obsessed Pattern employees, we see what makes the difference in truly great ecommerce performance and apply those learnings for brand partners. 

Ready to improve your profitability? Contact us here.

Inflation hits LEGO, but lighter than you’d suspect
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Inflation hits LEGO, but lighter than you’d suspect

**Some sets get more expensive, while others become cheaper** In June 2022, LEGO announced it would be increasing the prices of their sets. Ever since, consumers anticipated their favorite plastic construction toy prices to increase [by as much as 25%](https://9to5toys.com/2022/06/02/lego-officially-confirms-price-increases-coming-to-most-sets-later-this-fall/). **Why it matters:** Consumers are feeling the sting of inflation in all areas of their lives, from groceries and gas to entertainment. With LEGO Day right around the corner (January 28th), fans may wonder whether it’s a good time to purchase a set. **What we’re seeing:** While inflation continues to ravage the economy, consumers are seeing a small reprieve when it comes to the pricing of LEGO sets. Despite the anticipated 25% price increase, average prices among the top LEGO sets only increased by 4.7% year over year when comparing Q4 2022 to Q4 2021. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for All LEGO Sets – 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Interactive line chart" id="datawrapper-chart-3gn9L" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/3gn9L/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="393" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * During this same period, annual prices for some of the most popular LEGO sets were up as much as 23%. <iframe title="U.S. Price Change for LEGO Sets – Q4 22 vs. Q4 21" aria-label="Split Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-vh7B2" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/vh7B2/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="708" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Yes, but:** Prices of other popular sets were down by as much as -12% during this same period. Depending on the kit, consumers might actually find some popular LEGO sets have gotten less expensive since 2021: * LEGO Star Wars Imperial Probe Droid was down -6% in Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021 * LEGO Creator Tuk Tuk was down -7% * LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Millennium Falcon was down -10% * LEGO Ideas Tree House Business Kit was down -12% **However:** Even for the sets that experienced a price decrease, the decrease was less significant in Q4 2022 as set prices increased across the board following the June 2022 announcement. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Individual LEGO Sets – 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Interactive line chart" id="datawrapper-chart-KjSXz" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/KjSXz/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="400" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **The takeaway:** While prices didn’t increase as much as consumers anticipated, inflation still had an effect on the cost of LEGO sets. As ecommerce brands prepare for increased demand ahead of LEGO Day, they could increase customer interest in all sets by promoting the sets that have seen a price decrease. * Pattern’s data science team analyzes consumer demand on Amazon to understand how economic forces impact pricing and shopping behavior. If you’re interested in using insights like these to propel your ecommerce strategy forward, [contact our team today. ](https://pattern.com/contact-us/)