Online beauty retail is increasing

Online beauty sales grew almost four times faster than overall retail sales, according to a recent study by strategy consultants, A.T. Kearney.

The study found that 38% of active online shoppers in the UK have purchased beauty and personal care products online in the last 12 months, and that percentage looks set to increase.

Despite the dominance of online apparel retail brands such as Asos, the survey found that more consumers were buying beauty products online than clothes or jewellery. The most popular online beauty retailers in the UK include Boots and eBay, with Amazon unsurprisingly dominating that market with a 26% share.

The findings also show that the amount consumers spend is still split equally between in store and online retail services, showing that there is a real opportunity for beauty retailers, brands or even salon and spas to further capitalise on this growing sector.

Some 40% of those surveyed said they bought beauty products online due to convenience. However, delivery costs and inability to test a product before purchase were cited as the most common reasons consumers are put off online shopping, so companies able to overcome these barriers will be well placed to succeed on this platform.

Karina van den Oever, senior consultant at A.T Kearney, says that while beauty brands and retailers have made a good start with e-commerce, there is still some way to go.

“Online is clearly an area with immense growth potential for the beauty sector,” she said. “However, firms will need to embrace a fully multichannel marketing approach to engage successfully with the modern-day customer. There is a golden opportunity here for brands to expand their online presence and for retailers to re-think the role of their physical stores in an increasingly online world.”

The report indicated that consumers search online retailers for a bargain, with most of them using the web to purchase products they already use, especially skincare, at the best possible price. However, the report also warns that as the market matures, online retailers will need to find new ways to differentiate themselves beyond price.

The report, titled “Beauty Care and the Online Beast, surveyed 3,942 respondents from across Europe.