The Lipstick Index; Health / Wealth; And Connectedness

Have you ever heard of the “lipstick index”? It was coined by Leonard Lauder from Estee Lauder about a decade ago. It points to a phenomenon that lipstick sales go up when the economy declines. It happened in 2001 and right now lipstick sales are up 14% in 2011. Perhaps, more disturbingly, nail polish is up 54% this year. (Of course, further proof showed this not to be a true indicator but interesting anyways.)

But, why would it matter?

Apparently, makeup is a cheap thrill for penny-pincher shoppers. People cut back on many things, but they still need some luxury in their life. (at least that’s what the article in Time on 10/10/11 says)

I find this whole line of research really interesting given the Health and Wealth overlap. Another point in the same article was looking at whether money buys us happiness. Apparently, according to the article, happiness peaks at $75,000. I think one of the points made which many people realized post 9/11 is about the difference in happiness based on materialism versus experiences.

Interestingly, that plays into a broader discussion topic in healthcare around connectivity. Apparently, spending on travel and experiences with friends and family help enhance feelings of social connectedness (leading to a 25% increase in recreation spending from 2007-2011). Interestingly, as we’ve become more thrifty, what we define as splurges have changed. Connectivity (i.e., cell phones and Internet) have not been impacted by the recession at all.

“Connectivity has joined food, shelter and sex as a necessity.” (Paco Underhill, consumer behavior expert, Time, 10/10/11)

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