The rapidly changing beauty retail environment is the result of big changes in consumer purchasing behavior. Millennials as a group have helped transform the retail space, in the same way they continue to transform the world, via technology. This group turns to their mobile devices to help run their lives from hailing an Uber, to ordering a latte, to purchasing beauty products, all with the use of apps.
The modern beauty shopper looks for convenience, value, and product reviews and is never far from their mobile devices to get the purchasing job done. As initial interactions between retailers and shoppers many times start on a mobile device where the consumer surfs among various products and reviews, retailers and brands continue to beef up their virtual storefronts to make them more shoppable.
Technology remains the major factor responsible for changing the retailing environment at lightning speed both in the physical and virtual worlds. Beauty apps help serve as beauty consultants to enable shoppers to try on makeup products and help analyze skin and hair types.
Augmented reality, along with videos of product usage and tutorials, help ease the online beauty shopping experience. Physical stores are revamped for more innovation, animation, and experimentation along with digital tools, further blending the online and physical environments.
Mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay, help shoppers check out faster with a minimum of hassles, with a tap of a phone or flick of the wrist. Brands expand their retail horizons and are increasingly amenable to being sold across many channels to appeal to an expanding audience. A few of the major brands expanding across channels include: Proactiv, once sold only via infomercials and home shopping along with kiosks and vending machines, expands to Ulta. In 2016, Ulta takes on new brands and expands the availability of prestige brands, including Origins, Dior, Estée Lauder, and Shiseido. In early 2017, Ulta announces that MAC will begin to roll out to select locations in mid-year and will be available on the Ulta website.
The beauty retailing landscape is expected to evolve further, with the extension of more in-store boutiques geared to younger consumers, drawing on the success of Bluemercury in Macy’s. Beauty marketers that own several brands might consider launching boutiques filled with their multiple lines as AmorePacific continues to expand its number of Aritaum doors. Social selling of beauty products will likely replace person-to-person sales, utilizing millennial sales associates and social media to drive sales of Rodan + Fields, Monat, and other brands yet to enter the marketplace.
The 12th edition of our soon-to-be published Beauty Retailing USA: Channel Analysis and Opportunities report will provide a clear view of the challenging and ever-changing retail landscape specific to beauty and personal care products in the United States.