Where Consumers Shop for Beauty and Personal Care

November 2021

With 2020’s COVID-19-driven channel shifts, beauty and personal care saw a surge in e-commerce. 2020 also saw direct sellers and beauty specialist retailers embracing digital activities and experimenting with omnichannel strategies. The post-pandemic reality and new consumer behaviours are set to further reshape the beauty and personal care retail landscape, with the path of purchase becoming increasingly multichannel.

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Key Findings

Global beauty and personal care demand falls in 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic

Globally, retail sales of beauty and personal care products fell in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a consequent drop in consumption of some products. Colour cosmetics was the worst hit, due to the products’ discretionary nature and the double impact of store closures and home seclusion. Essentials, such as bath and shower, enjoyed increased sales due to extensive hygiene care routines.

COVID-19 accelerates shift to e-commerce

Store-based retailing was hard hit by the pandemic, as many countries imposed lockdowns and other social distancing measures, resulting in limitations on store visits or outright store closures. While sales of some products simply dropped in 2020, there was a strong shift to e-commerce channels in many countries.

Adoption of digital tools increasingly adopted to mimic in-store experience

Beyond a simple e-commerce focus, there is an accelerating shift to more comprehensive digital strategies overall. Retailers and manufacturers are deploying more digital tools to mimic the in-store experience and to provide expert services, such as virtual try-ons and online consultations. This is particularly visible in markets with high e-commerce penetration in Asia, Europe and North America.

Beyond e-commerce: omnichannel is the future

With digitalisation of beauty and personal care accelerating rapidly, consumers are increasingly comfortable with online shopping. Physical stores will, however, still be vital, as consumers will still wish to consult with staff, and try products. It is important that consumers are given a range of purchasing channels, and businesses will need to expand their options for seamless path to purchase.

Industry returns to growth in 2021

The industry returned to growth in 2021, as vaccination campaigns helped reduce the impact of the COVID-19 impact on beauty and personal care retailing.


Key findings

Industry Snapshot

Beauty and personal care sees a sharp decline in 2020
Bath and shower the biggest winner in 2020, but demand is normalising
Asia Pacific dominates absolute growth

Impact of Coronavirus

Store-based retailers adapt to curb losses amid the pandemic
Digital strategy becomes unprecedentedly important for players
Livestreaming, virtual platforms are key pillars for beauty social commerce

Channel Shifts

COVID-19 pandemic magnifies retail channel shifts underway since 2015
Prospects for non-store particularly strong in skin care and fragrances
2022 to start with new, higher baselines in under-penetrated areas

Store-based Channels

Health and beauty specialist retailers remains the biggest channel
Grocery retailers benefit from pandemic-related one-stop purchases
Beauty specialist retailers’ sales plunge as consumers flock elsewhere
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton maintains its leading position
Modern grocery retailers resilient in 2020 due to one-stop shopping
Grocery retailers offer more products in beauty and personal care
Bath and shower the winner for private label in 2020
Established drugstores help to strengthen the growth of private label
Drugstores versus modern grocery retailers vie for private label lead

Non-store Channels

E-commerce already growing pre-pandemic and surged in 2020
E-commerce extends lead in non-store due to more digital lifestyles
Depilatories witness a surge in e-commerce sales from a low base
Click-and-collect offers further appeal for e-commerce
Asia Pacific leads e-commerce developments
Amazon and Alibaba neck-and-neck

Future Developments

Growth set to normalise in the forecast period
Changes in consumer behaviour will shape future channel performance
Key takeaways

Beauty and Personal Care

This is the aggregation of baby and child-specific products, bath & shower, deodorants, hair care, colour cosmetics, men's grooming, oral hygiene, fragrances, skin care, depilatories and sun care. Black market sales and travel retail are excluded.

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