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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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