Trends in eCommerce: The Beauty Edition

 In Shopping

The beauty industry has been quite resilient, historically. Even during an economic downturn, sales remain high due to what’s called the “lipstick effect.” Even if people have to curb spending elsewhere, beauty is a category they refuse to compromise their budgets on.

And the role that eCommerce plays in this evergreen industry is growing. More than 10% of beauty purchases were made online in 2017, nearly double the portion in 2011 when just 5.6% were online. So what is the current state of the beauty industry online? We dove into the numbers to find out.

Amazon’s in the Lead . . . But There Are Other Horses in the Race

It should be no surprise that Amazon is a dominant force in online beauty sales overall, taking 85% market share among retailers. However, year-over-year, other retailers are making major gains.

forever21.com has grown it’s purchases nearly ten-fold, and victoriassecret.com is up almost 500% year-over year. Likewise, target.com, bathandbodyworks.com, and walmart.com have each roughly doubled, while Amazon grew at 18% year-over-year, a number that looks relatively modest when online purchases for the leading 13 retailers have grown 21% in the same timeframe.

Not every shopper is interested in buying products online that she can’t try on, see or smell in person (more on that in a minute), and that retailers at every price point are succeeding.

Beauty Retailers Hold Their Own Online

Retailers that specialize in beauty products — specifically Ulta and Sephora — continue to remain relevant in this space.

Ulta has seen pretty steady gains, up 25% year-over-year. It’s becoming a major competitor in the industry, the leading retailer apart from Amazon, which may surprise some, since Sephora, normally the beauty brand, has slid down a bit in its ranking. Sephora’s conversions are down 76% Q2 2018 compared to Q2 2017, and has fallen out of the top 10 brands in the category.

Online vs. Offline Sales

Sephora has been shaking things up as of late, which may have negatively impacted sales. The brand recently merged its digital and physical teams into one department, and they may be trying to drive people to come into the store first, a move that is gutsy and hasn’t yet proven to pay off.

90% of Sephora sales are offline, due in large part to the perks, like in-house makeovers and free consultations, being able to try the product in person, and Sephora’s proprietary Color IQ program, which helps shoppers find the right shades of makeup for their skin.

Not to leave money on the table, Sephora is working hard to bridge gap between online and offline sales. We’ll see if over time this move pays off.

Shoppers Know the Brands They Want

Our research showed several brands standing out in terms of sales.

All the leading brands showed growth. Putting aside the private label brands of retailers Forever21 and Victoria’s Secret, the biggest upticks came from Revlon and Garnier, showing 62% and 52% growth, respectively. The most-selling brand, Neutrogena, also showed standout growth, increasing sales 41%.

It’s clear the beauty industry is stable and continuing to look healthy online. We’ll keep an eye on this industry and report back updates to keep you informed.

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