Cosmetics: a deeply changing industry
Apr 12, 2019


What’s happening across the country

Beauty and cosmetics is a mature industry that relies on consumer demand for a variety of basic skincare products such as soaps, shampoos, creams and lotions, as well as make-up, perfumes and luxury goods. Overall, growth prospects for mass products are relatively slim because there have been no major innovations.

However, in 2017, Canada saw this industry prosper, driven by a favourable economic environment and, as a result, stronger consumer confidence.

The beauty and cosmetics industry, in all of Canada, generated some $3 billion in 2017, a 5% growth over 5 years. The beauty, cosmetics and perfume retail segment generated $2 billion and 10% growth over 5 years. They are largely responsible for the industry’s good economic health.

The industry is dominated by the same five major groups that have shared the charts over the years. Worldwide rankings of the beauty segment in 2016: L'Oréal ($27.2 billion), Unilever ($21.3 billion), Estée Lauder ($11.8 billion), P & G ($11.8 billion) and Coty ($7.7 billion).


Luxury drives the category

The prestige segment outperformed the mass segment, as well as the entire industry, for the third year in a row. Care and make-up rose by 7% and 9% respectively worldwide in 2017. Perfume is also in full swing, achieving peak growth of 5.5% in 2016.


Women in Quebec take care of themselves

Quebec women love to pamper their skin: 40% of them buy body and facial care products every month, which puts them far ahead of their English counterparts for these types of product.

The same is true with make-up: French-speaking Quebec women are 13% more likely than English-speaking Canadians to say that they could not leave their homes without makeup. Plus, they spend up to $38 a month in this category.

Most of them buy their supplies in drugstores (65% for skincare products and 76% for make-up) and Pharmacies Jean Coutu wins the prize for the most visited store for stocking up.

Specialty chains are redoubling their efforts to attract customers. Their secret: they are talking about experience. Women want to experience something memorable and customized, something that truly transforms. They want the kind of tips, tests and care offered at a spa, where everything is done to seduce and convince!


Trends to watch


In our ultra connected world, technology is now more than ever at the service of beauty. The goal: to optimize cosmetics, make them more efficient and easier to use.

Beauty masks are transformed into applicators: pulsations, heat, cold, lights... each function aims to fill a specific need for the skin.

Beauty applications on mobile devices become scanners that analyze the needs of the skin in real time: hydration level, depth of pores, appearance of wrinkles in order to offer THE products needed now.

Extreme customization composes the perfect personal product connected through an application that defines the needs of the skin. Blend the ingredients in a mini laboratory and ship!


The right routine

On one hand, we are witnessing the rise of multi-purpose products (e.g. Universal Lixir Emulsion: day cream, night cream and make-up base). On the other hand, K-Beauty (Korean) and J-Beauty (Japanese) routines are based on a relatively complex routine (e.g. mask made of tissues impregnated with snail slime, compact cushion cream, powerful hybrid substances) and have never stopped growing.

Their common goal: skin with a translucent and luminous appearance.



The emergence of products that are not harmful to health and, by extension, to the environment is important. Not necessarily natural, these products contain no controversial ingredients: silicones, parabens, sulphates. They are called clean products rather than natural products (e.g. Love Beauty and Planet by Unilever).

On the industry side, sustainable development is becoming increasingly important for the ingredients, packaging, and production and distribution chain.

Buying respectful and sustainable beauty products has become a committed act.

Anti-pollution skincare product lines are growing and expanding to address multiple environmental concerns:

  • Air conditioning
  • Heating
  • Bacteria (closed public places, public transit)
  • Blue light from computer screens


The beauty and cosmetics industry has many challenges to overcome. The money invested in research and development is considerable given the new issues that are increasingly challenging consumers: environment, health, stress, acceptance or not of social pressures... New product requirements, new corporate requirements, new marketing channels, the challenges are many and will definitely present opportunities.


Sources: Nielsen MarketTrack, 2017 (52 weeks, ending January 6, 2018) / Vividata spring 2018, Quebec franco 12+