Ulta beckons consumers back to buying beauty products


Retailer Ulta Beauty is hoping to seize on bright spots in the market for personal care products with a new TV ad campaign that touts the restorative powers of self-care during the pandemic. The company had pulled all TV advertising when the health crisis began in March.

The $500 billion global beauty industry has been transformed by the pandemic. With stores closed for months, millions working from home and many barely leaving the house — or wearing face coverings when they do — beauty revenues are estimated to drop up to 30% this year. But not all segments of the industry have been blemished by the COVID-19 downturn.

For years it’s been conventional wisdom in the beauty industry: When the going gets tough, consumers get lipstick.

“It is an inexpensive way to sort of keep up an appearance,” said Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology and an expert on consumer culture at Boston College. She said strong lipstick sales during periods of economic stress have been viewed as a sign of consumers seeking out affordable luxuries. “These are small purchases that can have big psychological impacts,” she said.

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