The talons are coming out in the $1.6 billion nail-care business as both manufacturers and retailers claw their way to a bigger share of booming sales.
“It really is a scramble with all fighting to see who can get more of their fair share,” said Joel Carden, executive vice president of Pacific World, marketer of SensatioNail, one of the first gel kits to hit retail shelves.
There’s a lot at stake: The total nail-care business in the mass market expanded 16 percent during the 52-week period that ended Dec. 2, tracked by SymphonyIRI Group (including Wal-Mart). Polishes are the driver with sales hitting $768 million, a gain of 32 percent over 2011. That compares with a 4.3 percent gain for the entire mass market cosmetics business in the same period.
Statistics provided by manufacturers indicate that 33 percent of women surveyed have at least 25 bottles of nails polish. And in a rocky economy they appear to keep buying them as an inexpensive way to freshen their look.
“Nails are still strong for spring,” said Janet Taake, senior vice president of merchandising at Ulta, who identified both sandy and matte textures as emerging trends.
Beyond polishes, buyers are excited about the potential of nail stickers and at-home gel systems. “The hot trends continue to be alternative ways to spice up your manicure with designs and patterns,” said Grace Tallon, senior vice president marketing for Kiss Products, which offers artificial nails, nail dress (or decals and strips) and gel manicures.
Gels, in particular, mimic the salon experience and present a huge opportunity, said Marwan Zreik, senior vice president marketing and research and development for Sensatio Nail. Gel products represented only 3 percent of overall nail sales in the beginning of 2012 and rose to 7 percent in the last four weeks of the year, spurred by holiday gift buying. Experts think gels will soon comprise 15 percent of overall nail sales. Currently, the at-home retail gel market is pegged at $25 million.
While retail brands rooted in the professional business — including Red Carpet Manicure, Pacific World and Kiss Products and Coty’s Sally Hansen — are among those leading in gels and nail dresses, industry sources expect at least one or two major brands to enter the fray within the next two years. Retailers wonder whether they will be too late to the party, but for now they are full speed ahead on nail with CVS Pharmacy, Shoppers Drug Mart, Rite Aid and Walgreens creating destination areas for the segment. -WWD