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Study: Beauty cos. must tackle online ‘beast’


With more than half of U.S. online shoppers buying beauty and personal care products online, beauty brands and retailers must embrace multichannel marketing in order to succeed and reach consumers where they are, according to a new study by A.T. Kearney and its Global Consumer Institute.

The study, dubbed “Beauty and the Beast,” examined the shopping behaviors of consumers and the implications of retailers and beauty brands. The findings are based on survey responses from 1,381 participants across 50 U.S. states and Canada.

“The world of e-commerce has been, for quite some time, ‘The Beast’ that beauty retailers and brands were trying to avoid. We are at the point where we have to ‘beat the beast.’ There is simply too much at stake if businesses do not address this opportunity,” stated A.T. Kearney partner and study leader Hana Ben-Shabat.

The study found that 62% of respondents shop online regularly, and of these, 60% purchase beauty and personal care products online. Among the most frequently purchased categories by online shoppers are skin care, personal care and hair care. 

Nearly half of respondents listed Amazon and Sephora as their favorite online destinations.

Those who shop online identify product selection, price incentives and convenience as their key motivators, while those who avoid shopping online cite the need to “look and feel” and the “social experience” of shopping as key demotivators for online shopping.

The study also highlighted two main implications for retailers and beauty brands:

First is the increasing need to create a seamless multichannel experience as consumers split their budget almost in half between online and store purchases. According to the study, brands must work with retailers to make sure that the e-channel is not “just another door,” but a place where consumers can find what is offered in stores and more.

Second is the need to maintain control over brands. In the e-commerce environment — where many third-party players sell brands that, in the past, could only be found in stores — they take the freedom to place, price and display products in a way that is not always in line with the brand aspirations and values, according to the study.

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