Gas prices are closing in on $4 (what, are we living in Europe
now?!), interest rates are increasing (and not for our savings
accounts) and in general, people are freaking out about the economy. So, what’s
a girl to do? Apparently, go buy some lipstick.
Recent reports indicate that when the economy gets tough,
the tough head straight to the cosmetics department. While consumers may not be
able to buy that luxurious SUV or $2,000 handbag, they can buy smaller items
that make them feel good, such as lipstick and other cosmetics.
According to Steve Ogden-Barnes of the Australian Centre for Retail Studies
at Monash University, ""When things get tight, people might put off
buying the new plasma or the new sofa, but there is no way a woman is going to
leave the house without her make-up on," he says.
While I don’t completely agree with Ogden-Barnes interpretation–I have zero
problem leaving the house without make-up on for crying out loud!–I do agree
that as the R-word frenzy continues, consumers are purchasing less
larger-ticket items and are instead drawn to low-priced luxuries.
The lipstick theory even has its own name. The "lipstick
indicator" was developed by Leonard Lauder, chairman of the Estee Lauder
Group after 9/11, when lipstick sales alone doubled
in the United States. The psychology behind this is intensely fascinating
(because, c’mon, does lipstick really make us feel that much better?), but for
our retail-oriented purposes, this is good, solid information to have right
For example, on a recent visit to Nordstrom Rack, I saw the low-ticket
purchase increase in action. On a sunny Saturday, the store was jam-packed. The
lines were 10 to 15 people long and there was that frantic energy in the air,
you know that uncomfortable feeling that someone is going to find your deal and
take it from you? Women and men alike were stocking up on summer gear,
accessories and winter mark-downs. In addition to a bevy of beauty products,
such as lotions, bath gel and the like.
According to the lipstick indicator, cosmetics are virtually
economic downturn-proof–with sales regularly increasing during tough times.
And that makes me wonder, did I just buy that new lipstick at Rite Aid because
I needed it, or was it because it was something I could buy effortlessly?
Ladies, what do you think of this–are you buying more
cosmetics during these times? Leave your comments here.