Leonard Lauder, Chairman of Estee Lauder, once noted that lipstick sales rise during tough economic times. He claimed it was a countercyclical economic indicator.
Well, now there’s some science to back the claim.
Sarah Hill, Christopher Rodeheffer, Vladas Griskevicius, Kristina Durante, and Andrew White studied the “lipstick effect” and their research proves that not only is it real, but that it is “deeply rooted in women’s mating psychology. Hill further explained her research yesterday for the Scientific American.
The lipstick effect is the fact that cosmetics manufacturers usually do not struggle during economic recessions. While a majority of non-essential industries get struck hard by recessions or other economic downturns, the cosmetic industry remains largely unaffected. As Hill notes, L’Oréal saw its sales grow 5.3 per cent in 2008, the heart of the most recent recession.
One reason Hill notes for the existence of the effect is that during “periods of scarcity,” women see a decrease of the availability of quality mates. Hill states that because unemployment and low returns on investments occur at a higher rate during recessions, a recession may signal to women that financially secure men are becoming relatively scarce.
While this may seem somewhat superficial, Hill has conducted four separate experiments and all have said that yes, the effect does exist. Women do increase their desire to buy products such as lipstick, designer jeans, high-heeled boots, and perfume.