What is the purpose of e-commerce when it comes to the beauty category? You can’t smell a beauty product online. There is limited ability to do a Vogue-style, high-fashion print layout. So why invest in online? Because increasingly, that’s where the beauty shoppers are. Fortunately for beauty brands, there is a built in fan base of shoppers who view the online environment as a rich extension of how they can luxuriate in the shopper experience and interact with brands in the beauty category.
The challenge for these brands is to provide the right tools, manage an increasingly two-way communication strategy and ensure the right level of product visibility online in order to effectively influence purchase decisions.
The potential for beauty brands to monetize online is tremendous. The health, beauty and personal care categories are the fastest growing online categories worldwide. Sales growth in the beauty category in 2013 was 29.1 percent, with apparel coming in second at 25.4 percent, according to eMarketer and Euromonitor. In 2014 in the US, online sales of personal and beauty care items were estimated to be $4.3 billion. Two of the most important factors that are helping drive such growth are social media and shopper preferences in product research.
Social media plays an important role in beauty shopper decision making, as consumers have the ability to share their unbiased, unedited opinions on anything. Trust and safety are operative terms here versus the more mercenary store experience. Added to this, beauty vloggers are becoming more prevalent. In a shopping environment absent of touch and feel, these individuals play a vital role in bringing the brand experience to life for beauty shoppers. Brands can help manage positive sentiment by proactively providing the social ecosystem a variety of digital content.
Conversely, brands need to ensure that they have a social media strategy in place to counteract negative reviews and commentary. Whether it’s a purchase made online where the shipping time was unacceptable, or that the color of a specific product did not look the same in person as it did online, brands that appropriately manage the ecosystem can guide their own success.