Winners & Losers 2009: Recession shopper

The products and brands that thrived in the downturn.

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Hair dye: Women made their primping dollars go further this year with do-it-yourself hair styling. Sales of L’Oreal’s red hair dye surged by a dazzling 47%.

Makeup: Sales of cosmetics, considered affordable luxuries, continue to rise. In the U.S., the industry is expecting an increase of 10% over the next five years.

Pepto Bismol: Despite the cure-all stomach settler’s 60% price premium over no-name versions, it managed to gain market share during the recession.

Chocolate: Cadbury proved that affordable, bite-sized indulgences are recession-proof, when sales of its chocolate climbed 7% in the first and third quarters, and 13% in the second.

Germ killers: In a downturn, no one can afford to get sick. In its last quarter, Clorox – maker of Purell hand sanitizer – reported a 23% rise in profit, to $157 million.

Harlequin romances: Romantic escapism was alive and well in 2009. Torstar’s Harlequin Enterprises division says sales of its guilty pleasures rose 3.7% over last year, to $122.5 million.

Salty snacks: Potato chip sales have risen 22% from 2007, and cheesy snacks are up 20%, thanks to more time spent chowing down in front of the TV.

DIY coffee: The cash-conscious passed on paper cups and brewed their own morning joe instead. In Canada, at-home coffee sales are up 6% over last year, and stylish coffee pods that brew a single cup are up 81%.

Spam: Hormel Foods – which manufactures Spam, the famous precooked meat product in the rectangular can – saw an 11% increase in profits from its grocery unit this year, with sales totalling $33.2 million.

Private labels: Shoppers Drug Mart’s in-house brands, including Life and Quo cosmetics, added 1,200 new products and are expected to reach 19% market share by the end of 2009.

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