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Cosmetics Consumer Behavior in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

The U.S. is the most valuable beauty and personal care market in the world. In 2020, the American beauty and personal care market was valued at 93.1 billion U.S. dollars. Some of the main aspects that drive this market are consumer demand, consumer expenditure, and purchase behavior. In 2019, the average American household spent approximately 197 U.S. dollars on cosmetics, perfume, and bath preparations.

In the past, about 34 percent of households with an annual income of 100,000 U.S. dollars or more spent between 500 and 999 U.S. dollars on skin care, cosmetics and fragrance , with 32 percent of them spending under 500 U.S. dollars. Skin care products also make up the largest part of the global cosmetic market. Besides skin care products, the cosmetic industry also includes hair care, make-up, perfumes, toiletries and deodorants, and oral cosmetics products.

American customers often turn to “Big Box” retail stores, such as Walmart and Target, to purchase cosmetic products . In a survey, nearly 52 percent of respondents had bought cosmetic products at a Walmart or Walmart Supercenter in the United States. A large share of American consumers also turn to pharmacies, such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid to purchase cosmetics products, with about 58 percent of women surveyed in the U.S. shopping for health and beauty products at drug stores. A significant share of Americans also buy cosmetic products online, at department stores and in grocery stores.

Different consumer groups may have different preferred beauty destinations or preferred types of products. American teenagers have different preferences in regards to purchasing beauty products, for example, upper-income U.S. teens, said they preferred locations such as Sephora and Ulta to meet their beauty needs. In terms of cosmetic brands, MAC was the leading cosmetic brand amongst upper-income U.S. teens, followed by Maybelline and Urban Decay. MAC was also the preferred cosmetic brand amongst average-income U.S. teens.

In recent years, beauty box subscriptions have gained popularity among consumers in the United States. These subscription programs will mail the subscriber a package of pre-selected beauty products for a modest monthly fee, usually between ten to twenty U.S. dollars. The subscriber may report certain preferences to tailor the box to their specific tastes and needs, but for the most part the contents of the box will be unknown to the recipient. This service gives the consumer a chance to sample beauty products that they may not usually try on their own. Two of the most popular subscription services were Birchbox and Ipsy Glam Bag.

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