Cosmetic sales are rarely affected by economic downswings. Sometimes, they even surge during times of sluggish economic activity as consumers are more inclined to buy less costly luxury goods instead of houses, cars or fur coats.
“They call it the ‘lipstick effect’ as lipstick sales tend to remain constant through economic slumps,” Jean-Andre Rougeot, chief executive of Benefit Cosmetics, told The Korea Herald during a visit to Seoul last week.
“Playing with cosmetics gives you 10 to 15 minutes of fun and relaxation even if you’re in a tough environment, and during difficult times, more women desire this moment of peace.”
Benefit is no exception.
In fact, Benefit has been one of the most successful cosmetic brands in the world over the past five years.
Sales of Benefit have grown over 20 percent every year since 2007 worldwide, according to Rougeot who joined the company in 2006.
“This is partly because we expanded geographically, but also partly because our brand DNA, which is about fun, humor, self-confidence, crazy packaging and beautiful colors, is incredibly compelling to 20-30-year-olds,” he said.
“I think young consumers really appreciate the free spirit that our San Francisco-born brand represents and the bold, girly approach. Also, our brand is well-positioned for internet-savvy customers.”
Started as a small makeup boutique by then-models Jean and Jane Ford amidst the 1970s hippie culture and gay movement, Benefit now sells in 38 countries.
Korea is Benefit’s biggest Asian market, and the third-largest after the U.S. and Britain.