Sons And Daughters Aren’t Purchasing Beauty Products For Mother’s Day. What Should The Beauty Industry Do?
Americans are forecast to spend a record $25 billion on Mother’s Day purchases. That’s up from $23.1 billion last year, according to an annual survey from the National Retail Federation. On average, people plan to shell out $196 for their moms, a splurge compared to the $180 they devoted to her last year.
Disappointingly for the beauty industry, the majority of Mother’s Day dollars won’t help beauty brands’ and retailers’ bottom lines. There’s nary a fragrance or skincare cream on the top 10 list of products expected to be purchased to celebrate mom. Gone are the days when a trip to the department store was her favorite treat. Beauty product purchases have been supplanted by outings, gift cards, personal services and electronics, among other things.
In particular, fragrances have lost luster. “The fragrance business was built early on as a gift or occasion business for Mother’s Day, birthdays and Christmas. As an everyday business, fragrances became commodities, and they lost their value,” says beauty expert Allan Mottus. “In fact, industry-wide discounting of fragrances and makeup has made the category less special and, certainly, less precious.”
The less special aspect is crucial because Phil Rist, vice president at Prosper Business Development, which conducted the survey for NRF, points out people cite finding something unique as the most important factor when selecting for Mother’s Day gifts (44%). The second most important factor is creating a special memory (39%).
Two exceptions to the downturn in Mother’s Day beauty spending are spa treatments and subscription boxes. The share of Mother’s Day shoppers gifting a personal service like a massage to their moms is projected to increase to 25% from 16% a decade ago and spending on services has nearly doubled, NRF reported. Interest in subscription boxes of all types registers in at 34%, and that figure jumps to over half among shoppers aged 18 to 24.
Beauty Independent asked brand founders, and current and former retail executives to share their thoughts on why beauty products aren’t preferred Mother’s Day presents and what should be done to bring consumers back to the merchandise category that once owned the holiday.
Joseph Vittoria, founder of Olfactory NYC
The retail fragrance experience hasn’t changed much in the past thirty years. Fragrance can be pretentious and hard to understand. We are trying to make fine fragrance more accessible without compromising on the ingredients. Our customization experience starts with a core scent, then [you can] add various accords to tweak the blend, so you can leave with a beautiful and unique fragrance that wasn’t too hard to create.
Instead of a gift card, which we can do, we offer the opportunity to give an empty bottle with the mother’s name on it. It becomes an experience for two people because they can come in and create the fragrance together. They feed off each other, and you discover similarities—or differences—you didn’t know about each other.
Paula Scandone, founder and CEO of The Bella Strategy Group
Retailers always seem to focus on gift sets and fragrance gift with purchase items, nothing really new or exciting. What about creating a lifestyle gift box, perhaps a collaboration with FabFitFun, Birchbox or Ipsy? This could be created with a digital strategy and all done online. I know I love getting all of my subscription boxes monthly or quarterly It is an ongoing present for me.
Also, offer incentives to replenish key items used in favorite beauty services or the favorite product in the box. This would bring new customers to retailers and brands, and the concept migrates the consumer back to the retailer that is collaborating with one of the subscription box services. It also gives great exposure and adds members to the subscription box services.
Stacey Bresnahan, founder of Laubahn Perfumes
I am finding fragrance getting more exciting again, so it should be more giftable. Saks just did its new floor and fragrance there is incredible, and you get to smell everything. We are seeing more single brand shops pop up, and you can find fragrances you don’t find in other places. Fragrance can be personal and hard to pick for someone, so what I have is a Collection Box with four small bottles of our most desired scents: Lost in the Moment, Ridge, Cognac and Hinterland. Your mom has the opportunity to try four different fragrances and find the one right for her that she can then get a full size. Also, with the four she can reflect her mood on different days. One day, she might feel a little woodsy. Aanother day, she wants a floral. I have a book, “Life on a Star,” that is a fictional dreamscape with a scent page that allows you to experience one of the landscapes via storytelling in fragrance. I’m trying to bring the fun back into the industry.
Josh Rosebrook, founder of Josh Rosebrook Skin And Hair Care
Beauty is classic, forever, and always wanted by mothers. It will never be out of style. The responsibility lies in companies making it happen. My perception from an indie point of view is that many of us work at our maximum, and our priorities take up much of our bandwidth. There can be seemingly little room for additional projects and things can get pushed to the side because of other projects that require more work or simply have proven to take a front seat. I handle that by introducing the project as early as possible to my team, so they can get started as soon as possible. We then stay ahead of schedule and have a great gift idea to offer that people want and need, and it turns into sales. Right now, we are focused on finishing development of our luxury gift box for Black Friday/holiday 2019, which is really exciting, but can take our energy and focus away from other important times of the year like Mother’s Day.
Tony Nakhla, founder of Eighth Day
Of course, it is easier to give mom a sweater or flowers. Skincare gifts, if not positioned the right way, may come across as offensive, implying that mom is getting old and is in need of wrinkle care. I believe there is a way to tell mom I love you, and I want you to look and feel your absolute best. I want you to take great care of yourself, not only your skin, but your overall health. Skincare is just the start.
Eighth Day is for the mom that dresses beautifully, eats healthy, exercises and takes the very best care of herself. And, if not, she at least wants to begin a new way of life. Often, our self-sacrificing moms go to great lengths to give, give, give and may leave their own self-care by the way side. Perhaps she is unwilling to splurge on herself, perhaps she does not have the time, but giving her the gift of total confidence at any age and the tools to empower herself is not only appropriate, it says I love you in a much more profound way.
Mary Catherine Horgan, category manager for health and beauty at Pharmaca
Because May is such a beauty-focused month for Pharmaca, we offer a variety of fun ways to treat yourself and your mom. For example, if you come in and spend a certain amount on Juice Beauty or Jane Iredale products this month, you can take home a great gift with purchase. So, whatever gifts you’re buying results in a gift for yourself.
We also try and capitalize on the desire for experience gifts by offering in-store beauty services through our Spa Day events or other events we partner with vendors on. This month, we’re hosting a mini-facial event at nearly all of our stores featuring Sanitas Skincare. Participants get a customized skin analysis and consultation, a mini treatment and a set of deluxe Sanitas samples with purchase. We think it’s a great mother-daughter date idea. And the bonus is that, while they’re pampering themselves, they’re learning about great natural beauty options.
We always focus sales and promotions on beauty items in May since it’s a month of transition for most people when it comes to beauty. As a result, we are naturally working to keep beauty top of mind right now through focused customer emails and social media. We just posted an Instagram shot of some of our favorite beauty items along with a link to our shoppable gift guide online to give people inspiration on ways to pamper Mom with natural beauty. And we incentivize store customers by offering a coupon they can use to shop the great skin care, cosmetics and aromatherapy items we have in stores.
Anna Ayers, co-founder and CEO of Rahua
The industry can benefit by reinforcing its role to uplift and boost confidence in women with healthy, natural, plant-powered experiential beauty products that encourage wellness. As a mother myself, I appreciate luxurious necessities. High-function, purposeful products are the ones I choose to keep in my life for the long run: beauty items that simplify life and transform routine into a special indulgence and wellness ritual.
At Rahua, we showcase the beauty and distinctive qualities that each of our products hold. Each product is a gift on its own and intended to be appreciated as a gift from Mother Nature each time it is use. Rahua provides moms with the perfect items to treat and care for themselves. Fragrance should be a classic Mother’s Day gift, and our newly launched Rahua Palo Santo Oil Perfume takes a new approach to scent with an essential oil that delivers both health and wellness benefits. Purposeful, high-quality performance-driven haircare and beauty products are a lovely gift and a way to show great care for mothers and caregivers who have shared their unconditional love to us.
Amanda Tolleson, chief customer officer of Birchbox
We see a spike in gift subscriptions leading up to Mother’s Day every year, and it actually peaks on Mother’s Day itself, when all those last-minute shoppers send or print a gift certificate. There’s a universal sentiment that moms don’t take enough time for themselves, so a Birchbox subscription is an easy way to say, “Here’s something delightful just for you, you deserve this.” It’s not about gifting more makeup to a beauty-loving mom, the idea is actually the opposite. Customers are treating mom to something she wouldn’t explore on her own. It’s also the gift that keeps on giving, reminding mom of her favorite child every month when it arrives.
Desmond Zhengs and Alice Sundbom, curators of Atelier d’Emotion
A lot of fragrance has become so mainstream that it is boring, so we’re trying to new brands doing interesting things like the Kelly & Jones Mezcal collection. We can compete with an experience because our shop is also an experience, a way to send your mother to smell and try on fragrances. We have daily happy hours with whiskey tasting or wine. We also have had events such as two-hour portraits where you can sign you mom up for the chance to go home with a portrait. Fragrance is so personal, so it is hard to pick for someone so coming here, having a glass of champagne, trying fragrances really becomes an experience. We are taking appointments for Mother’s Day on our website. One of the events we are featuring is to discover Luxury Overdose by Absolutement Parfumeur.