Pure Beauty

UK supermarkets are quietly transforming into credible beauty destinations

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 24-Oct-2023

Aldi, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have revamped their beauty offering in a bid to be seen as serious beauty retailers, but is it working? Cosmetics Business investigates

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Although UK supermarkets have been slowly moving in on the thriving beauty industry for many years now, the grocers have not really been seen as stiff competition for the big beauty retailers – but are things about to change?

Over the past year, supermarket titans Aldi, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Sainsbury’s and Tesco have all started to revamp their offering in a bid to make a play for a larger slice of the beauty market pie. 

These developments have gone beyond just affordable price points, which the supermarkets are able to do due to their huge buying power.

These have been structural changes to help transform the humble grocery aisle into a credible beauty shopping destination for consumers. 

Sainsbury’s has rolled out Serum Bars in 106 stores after its figures revealed customers will buy enough facial serums this year to fill five Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

It is ”the biggest serum bar roll-out of any UK retailer”, said Amanda Steatham, Director of Health and Beauty at Sainsbury’s. 

M&S has secured partnerships with high-end beauty players such as Floral Street and Estée Lauder to help premiumise its beauty offering.

UK supermarkets are switching up their beauty aisles to be more aesthetically-pleasing (Image: M&S)

UK supermarkets are switching up their beauty aisles to be more aesthetically-pleasing (Image: M&S)

This is because third-party brands now represent more than 40% of M&S Beauty’s total sales, with skin care company Clinique, which launched into the supermarket in 2022, its bestseller. 

Tesco has been trialling a Sensitive Skin Section in nearly 100 of its large stores after discovering that 40% of the UK population suffer with sensitive skin.

Products are split by condition rather than brand – ‘sensitive face’, ‘normal-to-dry skin’, ‘very dry skin’ and ‘very dry, itchy skin’. 

 It is a challenge for the supermarkets to get across all of the nuances that come with beauty

And Aldi has cemented its reputation as the King of beauty dupes, with products from its own-brand Lacura regularly going viral.

The Lacura Booty Balm, for example, is an affordable alternative to Sol De Janeiro’s popular Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. 

These items are only available for a limited time to drive consumer desire, and as such, #newlacuraaldidupes on TikTok has more than 96 million views.

But will these updates have a long term impact on where consumers shop for beauty in the future? 

The turning of the tide

Although the changes

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