Just a few years ago, the make-up category was thriving in Asia Pacific, where millions of people in markets like China, Indonesia and India were picking up new skills from platforms like Instagram and YouTube and eager to try them on themselves.
When it became the norm to stay indoors and wear a protective face mask out, the need for make-up decreased dramatically and the rapid acceleration of category took a nosedive.
Experts like Nicole Fall of Asian Consumer Intelligence were quick to predict that the category was in for some tough times during the pandemic.
“As we were going into lockdown, I was actually asked what my predictions for the beauty category were for the pandemic… and my answer then was forget cosmetics, no one is going to be interested in putting on a full face of make-up when they're working from home.”
Rather than a necessity, Fall believes the act of putting on make-up has become a feel-good activity, fuelled by social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube.
“What we're going to see more going forward is the power of education with millions of passionate people who love the artistry and creativity of playing with make-up. When we interview consumers, particularly in beauty, something that we really see… people in Northeast Asia will routinely put aside a couple of hours a week to play with make-up, and experiment. And so, it becomes like a sport or a hobby.”
Remarkably, SUGAR Cosmetics, a primarily make-up brand based in India has seen its sales return to pre-COVID-19 levels in the latter part of 2020 despite experiencing harsh lockdowns in the first quarter.
“The first quarter when COVID-19 actually hit us. In April, May and June, we had the harshest lockdown in the world. So, all categories, even categories that were faster to rebound, like personal care and food, took a nosedive to almost zero. For us, the year started with an almost zero quarter,” recalled Vineeta Singh, CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics.
The company has since made a full recovery thanks to the peak wedding and festive season beginning in October, a feat it credits to its strong portfolio of transfer-proof make-up.
“Because masks are here to stay, we're very excited about what this means for a brand like us that's always been focused on this USP of a product,” said Singh.
Singh told us the company was working on an international expansion this year as it believes the category still holds a lot of room for growth, especially in the APAC region.
To find out more, check out the video above.