47% of shoppers buying more beauty products online

In an industry traditionally rooted in touching, seeing and testing, e-commerce is becoming a more popular channel for shoppers to buy beauty and personal care products. According to A.T. Kearney's study "Beauty and the E-Commerce Beast: 2014 Edition," 47 percent of surveyed participants purchased more beauty products online this year compared to last year.

"Beauty online is so much more than just a transaction," said Hana Ben-Shabat, an A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study. "It's in fact one of the most active categories on the internet. So online is becoming one of the most important paths to purchase."

2014 saw an increased number of shoppers willing to buy fragrances and make-up online, versus habitually used products that consumers often replenish.

Of the annual $4.3 billion retail sector, online beauty and personal care now represents 6.5 percent of total sales. Biggest sellers included skin care, compared to less purchased products such as bath or haircare products. And almost 11 percent of the products bought were prestige cosmetics, as opposed to the 6 percent of mass produced products.

In addition, those who purchase products online tend to replenish items they are familiar with. As many as 38 percent of participants reported having subscribed to at least one replenishment program for its convenience.

"It's no longer sufficient for beauty and personal care brands and retailers to invest experimentally in digital," added Ben-Shabat. "Winning companies are those that can figure out how to make the link between online and offline, digital and physical. And collaboration between manufacturers and retailers in the quest for engaging today's online consumer is more important than ever before."

Overall, 44 percent of U.S. shoppers now combine online and in-person shopping activities, up 7 percent from 2013. And these combined experiences are no longer for just big-ticket purchases, as 39 percent are using this method for purchasing beauty and personal care products.

For more:
-See this A.T. Kearney press release

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