It seems that while the beauty and personal care market is growing, consumers are not necessarily loyal shoppers. A recent study by A.T. Kearney found that U.S. consumers use four or more websites to fulfill their beauty and personal care shopping needs, indicating a lack of loyalty. In fact, some consumers said they use 15 to 20 sites.
“This shows that loyalty to a particular point of sale is really hard to come by. Consumers are navigating multiple sites to get what they want,” Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and author of the study, told FierceRetail.
E-commerce sales for beauty products were worth $6.2 billion, or almost 8% of the industry, in 2015.
When it comes to what shoppers were looking for in a site, best prices, free shipping and site security topped their lists. Compared with 2014, best prices overtook security as the most important feature.
The study's results also show that the growth of e-commerce sales is a direct product of increasingly more sophisticated supply-side strategies, according to Ben-Shabat.
In addition, influencers are on the rise as consumers are increasingly trusting “people like them” to make purchasing decisions. It seems what peers have to say is, in fact, overriding the brand message.
Finally, shoppers are looking to engage more with brands and want a higher level of personalization. While 60% of respondents say they regularly receive email or text offers from beauty brands or retailers, only 9% feel these messages accurately target them and 48% say the messages are generic.
“The growing challenge of loyalty, the daily demand on retailers and brands to deliver a seamless experience between online and offline, and the need to ‘give up some power’ to new sources of influence are indicators of the current state of the beauty industry,” Ben-Shabat said. “Succeeding in this new environment will require an artful integration of all channels, adoption of new technologies to enhance personalization and authentic communication."
Where are shoppers looking for beauty and personal care items? As in the 2014 study, Amazon leads the pack at 69%, followed by Sephora, 41%, Ulta, 37%, and Walmart, 36%.
In the future, brands need to be creating communities online that translate to in-store, offering relevant content and being able to offer personalized propositions in order to build and retain customer loyalty. In addition, they will need to make sure that consumers are a part of the conversation in every channel, from web content and social media to in-person beauty experts.
“Further, they need to know that it's a two-way conversation and that they have an opportunity to be a part of shaping the brand’s strategy. They need to feel they can share their views and experiences without being edited out,” Ben-Shabat added.