The Perfume Effect: Gen Z’s Recession Indicator

 2 minute read time
Outlines of beauty products like lipstick and perfume

Perfume Tops Lipstick as New Luxury Item of Choice

Some readers may be familiar with the “Lipstick Effect,” which occurs when consumers purchase small luxury items like lipstick prior to or during a recession. However, according to recent data from ecommerce accelerator, Pattern, perfume may be the new luxury item of choice for shoppers facing financial uncertainty.

Why it matters: Over the past year, the threat of recession has permeated the public conversation, and it’s started to manifest in consumer preferences. From 2022 – 2023, demand for perfume has increased by 15.97% while lipstick has seen a decrease in demand of -24.45%.

What we’re seeing: We analyzed the number of consumers shopping online for a given perfume product for every day of 2022 and 2023 so far to better understand how recession fears have shaped consumer preferences. Here’s how demand for perfume products has risen over the last year:

  • Demand for Yves Saint Laurent perfume rose by 274.61% from 2022 – 2023
  • Prada Perfume +210.59%
  • Rollerball Perfume +207.24%
  • Tom Ford Perfume +204.88%
  • Perfume Samplers +183.45%
  • Perfume Sets +167.78%

By contrast: Demand for lipstick products decreased by 24.45% from 2022 – 2023.

Yes, but: During this same period, demand for perfume products targeted at male consumers decreased while demand for other types of lip products increased:

  • Demand for Men’s Cologne decreased by 42.73% from 2022 – 2023
  • Demand for Men’s Perfume only increased by 1.04% from 2022 – 2023
  • Lip Stain +69.92%
  • Lip Gloss +34.29%

Other beauty trends we’re seeing: In addition to perfume products, consumers have demonstrated a clear preference for beauty products within the eye and face category, as well as increased interest in clean beauty products. Here’s how demand has shifted for makeup products year over year:

Eyes & Face:

  • Overall, demand for beauty products within the eyes and face category increased by 51.91% from 2022 – 2023
    • Eye Creams +412.82%
    • Blush +75.45%
    • Lash Primer +69.20%
    • Bronzer +67.84%
    • Setting Spray +62.90%

Clean Beauty:


  • Demand for Clean Beauty products increased by 183.71% from 2022 – 2023. This illustrates a clear movement towards embracing cosmetics that are free of harmful chemicals, including potentially dangerous ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances.

The takeaway: While lipstick might have been the luxury item of choice during past recessions, the new generation of shoppers have demonstrated a clear preference for perfume when faced with economic uncertainty. Moreover, shoppers appear to be more interested in clean beauty products that can help them achieve a more natural look.

  • Pattern’s data science team analyzed the number of people shopping online for beauty products on Amazon during every day of 2022 and 2023 so far to understand the biggest demand trends in beauty products. If you’d like access to insights like these to help power your ecommerce strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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