| NEW YORK, July 5
NEW YORK, July 5 Tough economic times are
boosting sales of beauty products and designer jeans as women
put more emphasis on looking good and attracting a partner,
according to a university study.
Researchers in Texas found that a downturn in the economy
has a positive impact on the beauty industry, in what has been
dubbed the "lipstick effect" and that price is not an issue.
"Although both men and women downsize consumer spending in
response to recession cues there is an exception to this and
this is beauty products," said Sarah E. Hill, an assistant
professor of social psychology at Texas Christian University in
"Women have an increased desire to purchase these products
in response to recession cues," she added. "Even though they are
closing their purse string for other things, they are wanting to
splurge on things that can make them attractive."
A downturn in the economy has been linked to an upswing in
beauty sales since the Great Depression, according to Hill,
whose research is published in the Journal of Personality and
Figures from market research company NPD Group Inc support
the phenomenon. Their numbers show that skin care, makeup and
fragrance sales increased 11 percent in the United States in
2011 compared with the previous years.
China, Mexico and Argentina also had double digit rises in
beauty product sales last year, while sales increased 9 percent
in Britain and 3 percent in France.
Hill and her team examined how and why economic recessions
influence women's consumer behavior in a series of experiments.
They used real world spending data and asked consumers whether
they would buy a series of products after giving them recession
They found that men did not want to buy anything. Women also
showed no interest in products that did not enhance their
"But we did find that there is this robust lipstick effect,"
Hill believes it is the first time the lipstick effect has
been demonstrated in experiments and that it is driven by a
desire attract a partner.
"Women consciously want to do something that makes them feel
good about themselves, but ultimately we found that it is these
things that make them feel good about themselves that make them
more attractive to mates," she added.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Christine Kearney and