Long-wear polish is cannibalising the traditional lacquer category and threatening professional retail sales, according to Kline’s Global Professional Nail Care Report 2016.
The report analysed the performance of the industry in terms of global territories and key categories – gels, polish, long-wear polish, care products and enhancements.
Overall growth was steady in 2016, up 5% year on year, bringing the global market value up to USD$1.5bn (£1.2bn). However, growth has significantly and progessively slowed since 2012, when the gel-polish boom took was taking over the industry.
North America emerged as the biggest global market with 40% of sales worldwide, and Europe was second, outpacing the US in terms of growth. Kline said the UK was instrumental in driving this growth and is now one of the top markets for professional nail care.
Gel (soak-off gel and gel polish) remained the largest category, probably due to the ease of use of the refined, new-generation systems. The traditional polish category hasn’t been doing so well though, despite holding on to its place as the second- biggest category overall, and suffered declining sales for the third consecutive year in 2016.
Playing the long-wear game
Top and base coats didn’t do as badly as lacquer, which lost sales and market share to the third-biggest and relatively new category, long-wear polish. Kline described this category as the most dynamic and reported robust, triple-digit growth, with sales and market share both more than doubling year on year.
The popularity of long-wear polish, which saw launches from key brands, such as Essie’s Gel Couture and Morgan Taylor’s React No-Light Extended Wear base and top coats, could also be responsible for the slowing of growth in the gel category.
It slowed to single-digit growth in 2016 as consumers started to become concerned with damage to the natural nail caused by improper application and removal of gel polish. Gel-polish clients could be changing their preference to something that is less damaging to the health of the natural nail.
“Although long-wear nail polish is the key driving force behind the market, this has had an adverse impact on nail polishes and gel polishes due to the cannibalisation of sales because of growing demand for healthier formulations,” said Shivani Singh, senior consumer products consultant at Kline.
On this note, recent launches such as Orly’s Breathable line of argan oil-infused, Halal-certified lacquers are working even harder to broaden the appeal of traditional polish and reinvigorate the category.
If it wasn’t frustrating enough that many pro brands are now available direct to clients through consumer retail channels and the grey market, long-wear could present a threat of its own if brands develop better performing formulas that encourage clients to do their own nails at home rather than visiting salons for a long-lasting nail service.
Going for a dip
Most of the growth in the enhancements category – which performed better than the overall market in terms of growth – was down to the return of dipping systems such as Artistic’s Perfect Dip, and efforts by brands to make life easier for techs by introducing more coloured powders. Concerns about hygiene could slow growth moving forward. “There are concerns pertaining to the hygiene of these systems; they’re not sanitary as they involve [clients] dipping their nails in the same powder,” said Singh. “Several manufacturers are now evolving their systems and introducing innovative concepts, like Young Nails’ Slick Pour system, which involves pouring powder over the nails.”
OPI, CND, Gelish, Orly and Essie were the top five brands globally, accounting for 40% of overall global sales. Young Nails emerged as the fastest growing brand, followed by IBD.
Kline predicts the market will continue growing at 5% to reach $1.9bn by 2021.