The recession continues in the United States 2011 despite promise of change made by green celebrity president Barack Obama. Who would think that economists could predict the economic state of the union based on sales of lipstick and other simple cosmetics for women? More over, who would think that saving green could help grow the green cosmetic industry?
The “Lipstick Index” is a phrase coined by the chairman of Estee Lauder, Leonard Lauder, back in the 2001 recession. His premise about economics was simple says The Economist. In times of fiscal trouble nationally, sales of luxury items like expensive designer clothes, fine jewelry, and luxury or exotic sports cars wanes. But life’s little indulgences for women — products like lipstick — sales figures go up.
“In hard times, women buy more of it, as it is an affordable indulgence…” claims the fiscal report based online magazine. “In the autumn of that year , lipstick sales in America increased by 11%. Believers in the theory trace the phenomenon back to the Depression, when cosmetic sales increased by 25%, despite the convulsing economy.”
Despite difficulty tracking exact sales records, many retailers with savvy buyers know that when times are tough to change their buying patterns by keeping a smaller selection of big-ticket items while offering a wider selection of more affordable accessories.While women might pass on that $150 bottle of perfume, for instance, they might be inclined to pick up a $25 lipstick or a $50 item with a free lipstick (or other small cosmetic item like an eye shadow or eye liner pencil) as a free gift.
So, while Estee Lauder cosmetics remain expensive for the average woman to purchase, other companies like Cover Girl cosmetics and L’Oreal are actually creating higher dollar (translation = more upscale) cosmetic lines. These new products fall at a price somewhere between the low-cost grocery story and local pharmacy cosmetic line offerings and department store prices. Discount store chains like the cosmetic retailer ULTA benefit from being able to offer higher grade cosmetics to potential buyers without the high price.
“Woman are huge targets in the advertising game, and any gimmick to sell them a new cosmetic item is an angle to be worked — even in a recession economy…” shared once store employee, seeming to agree with the Lipstick Index philosophy of beauty product sales.
There is also an advantage to women choosing to keep buying cosmetics even though times are tough. Some of the new eco-friendly cosmetic lines that have been marketed to the average woman by green celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Lopez, and Taylor Swift are getting a sales boost as ladies across the nation wean themselves off buying the overpriced and often not cruelty-free department store stuff.
“The latest reason I have seen for women to buy less costly cosmetics is they like the idea cosmetic companies like Covergirl and L’Oreal offer products that are more green”.
As such, even if there is an element of green washing going on in the marketplace, women hoping to save green while using the excuse they are going green is still generating product sales at a higher revenue level for the eco-friendly, organic, and cruelty-free make-up.
That means during a time when many companies are discontinuing product lines due to lagging product sales, beauty products are flying off the shelves and carving out a niche selling to women who can tell their friends the ahem ethical reason why they decided to go green and stop carrying department store cosmetics in their designer “distressed” and “boho chic” vintage handbags.
Even Taylor Swift said, “I’m really excited for people to discover the new NatureLuxe line from CoverGirl!” in a press release, even though the greenest thing about the new NatureLuxe line of skincare and beauty products might just be the light green color of the ruffle chiffon dress she was wearing for the photo shoot and commercial filming.
And you know what? We here at Green Celebrity Network think that is okay, really.
Because the more somewhat green products that sell (or are marketed successfully thanks to celebrity endorsements from green celebs), the more truly eco-friendly green products are likely to be made in the future. Our hopes are that eventually, by the grace of the gods of grass-roots marketing, there will be a paradigm shift that allows people to save green while going green simultaneously — putting an end to the manufacturing and sales of high dollar products that are made with callous disregard for the environment and the animals on which they do the product testing.
If it takes the Lipstick Index and a recession economy to get people thinking about recycling products, cutting down on copious buying of products that are not made locally, and about ways to still lead a glam life without wasting money, then change could be converted to spare change exponentially.