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Taking a good look at the beauty industry

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Credit: Sophie Marchessou and Emma Spagnuolo


After a challenging year, beauty brands are bouncing back. The most successful ones offer a distinctive omnichannel customer experience while prioritizing sustainability and inclusivity.



The beauty industry—encompassing skin care, color cosmetics, hair care, fragrances, and personal care—had a beast of a year in 2020: sales of color cosmetics fell by 33 percent globally, while overall retail sales in the beauty category declined by 15 percent. But the industry has been resilient in the past, and experts are predicting a return to growth in 2022. In this episode of the McKinsey on Consumer and Retail podcast, McKinsey partners Sophie Marchessou and Emma Spagnuolo share their outlook for the industry. (Megan Lesko Pacchia and Kristi Weaver contributed to the research cited in this episode.) An edited transcript of their conversation with executive editor Monica Toriello follows. Subscribe to the podcast.


Monica Toriello: Hello, everyone. And I do mean everyone. I say that because often when people hear “beauty industry,” which is our topic for today, they think, “Oh, it’s going to be all about products for women.” So to our male listeners, I want to say to you, that is not true. On today’s episode, we’ll be discussing some important trends in the beauty industry, one of which is the growth in unisex products and men’s products.

Let’s meet our two beauty experts. Sophie Marchessou is a partner based in McKinsey’s Paris office. She’s been with McKinsey for over 12 years, and she lived in New Jersey for about eight of those years. She moved back to Paris in late 2019, and Sophie now leads McKinsey’s work with beauty companies globally. Emma Spagnuolo is a McKinsey partner who lives in New Jersey. Emma leads our work in the beauty indust