Pure Beauty

No more testers: How the beauty industry is adapting to online

Published: 6-Apr-2021

In partnership Lavandi Talent

Like most people right now, here at Lavandi Talent, we are looking forward to the shops opening again. The high street has been closed for what seems like forever, and I am sure we all miss the bustle of a Saturday shopping trip with lunch thrown in, a casual stroll through the retailers, maybe even a cheeky G&T with our shopping stashed underneath the table.

The effect of the lockdown cannot be ignored, though, and sadly we will almost certainly see some empty units where the smaller, independent retailers used to be. The truth is that the high street and shopping mall experience of buying beauty products has changed.

If not forever, then certainly in the short to mid-term. More and more retailers have moved online, and we are likely to see even more adaptations to take advantage of the post-pandemic sales channels.

An already growing trend

The bottom line, though, is that the lockdown probably only accelerated an already growing trend to online, that here at Lavandi Talent, we have been watching for some time.

Many major retailers, manufacturers and new service providers have already embraced new and emerging ways of connecting with customers. On the surface, this is surprising considering the personal nature of beauty products. Necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention and the beauty space has not been slow to emulate traditional shopping and innovative technologies.

Online makeovers and apps

Most of the big names have online services that allow you to try before you buy. To some extent, this is emulating a shopping mall experience, but there is more going on here. Post-pandemic awareness of space and hygiene could well make in-person use of testers less attractive.

Also, thinking back to the days of crowded shops, anyone who has tried to get the attention of an advisor will testify how frustrating it can be at peak times. Online makeovers nimbly sidestep both of those problems.

Maybelline is a good example of this try before you buy in action. They have an online makeover site where you can choose everything from a single application of eyeliner to a full themed look.

Unlike shopping in person in terms of actually seeing the products applied, online and in-app virtual makeovers have an almost infinite choice and as much browsing time as you like.

The influencer effect

Without doubt, the biggest change in how end-user cosmetic and beauty product awareness happens has been the rise of the social media influencer. Once considered nothing more than ‘bloggers and YouTubers’, many are now a huge factor in the promotion of new products. Potentially even more important is the rise of the micro-influencer.

While the giants such as Zoe Sugg or Huda Katten may gather millions, the micro-influencers are focused and refined access points to very specific markets. These may well prove to be a real opportunity for the specialist brands to reach new customers.

Boxes and bundles on subscription

The subscription box by post is hardly a new idea; during lockdown, however, the industry boomed, and subscriptions went through the roof. Pre-pandemic, Royal Mail reported that over 25% of consumers now subscribed to some form of regular subscription service.

Brand names such as Harrys and Dollar Shave have capitalised on the male grooming market, partially by recognising that the process of buying shaving products is actually rather a dull one in the shops.

Cosmetic boxes with keyed, personalised selections have become commonplace. While it is certainly possible that the boom will pass, the delivery box is here to stay.

Good online presence comes with diversity and personalisation included

Love it or hate it, the targeted, personalised information delivery we all get now is certainly effective. From simple retargeting through to sophisticated AI, your online journey for the right beauty products is going to become more and more personalised as time passes. Arguably this could reduce choice, but it is hard to deny that product ranges that fully recognise the diverse nature of the buyer has to be a positive step.

The personal touch is still there

In all this talk of technology, AI, and automation, it is worth remembering that part of the purpose of online is to allow people to communicate. The personal advice we are all used to at the counter is now often available through chat services. The good advice we used to get at the counter is still available, albeit in a different form.

The rise in online sales cannot be denied

Whether we return to a new equilibrium in retail or not, the rise of online sales in the beauty industry cannot be denied. The move to online is not just happening... it has happened. The beauty industry has embraced it out of necessity and efficiency, and it must continue to grow in this area, which it will because the beauty industry is resilient and adaptable. The products change, the trends come and go, and the fashions flit by, but the industry endures.

However, let’s not forget the high street. The shopping trip with friends, the chatter over the decision to buy, the umms and ahhs over a risky new look and yes, even the tired, aching feet are all something to be cherished.

Hopefully, the moment when you flop onto the sofa with a glass of wine and your bags surrounding you at the end of a long shopping trip will be back soon. Then the consumer and the beauty industry and embrace both worlds.

Get in touch with us at Lavandi Talent, and we will be happy to discuss how you can best navigate the changing cosmetics and beauty landscape this year. As always, we are here to help you get the people you need.

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