US Online Beauty Retailing Market Report 2021
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“The pandemic has impacted consumers' lifestyles resulting in altered beauty routines and shifts in shopping behaviors. The in-store experience continues to be challenged – consumers are now shopping and engaging…

US Online Beauty Retailing Market Report 2021

£ 3,695 (Excl.Tax)


Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Online Beauty Retailing Consumer market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

Current Market Landscape

The lines between the physical and digital worlds are blurring, especially among young generations. This is highlighted by 30% of Gen Z beauty shoppers being interested in digital-only beauty/ personal care items. With digital-only offerings still emerging and gaining popularity, it’s clear there are potential opportunities for them in the online beauty world.

Overall, consumers are increasingly comfortable shopping online at online cosmetic retailers and online beauty retailing channels, enjoying the ease to explore new brands/products. This will bring opportunities to emerging brands, but also challenges to more established ones and beauty retailing stores as the landscape gets crowded and competition continues to increase.

The pandemic has changed the way consumers live and shop. During lockdowns, DIY behaviors were adopted favoring nail and hair color, and as personal health and hygiene are prioritized, soap, bath and shower products have also seen gains, while categories like makeup have been hit hard by lack of occasions to get ready for. Additionally, consumers have become accustomed to shopping in a variety of ways and are embracing technological solutions (livestreaming) that allow them to bond with brands and enhance the shopping experience.

Future market trends in online beauty retailing opportunities

The visual and tactile nature of beauty will require brands and retailers to reimagine and invest in solutions to provide the in-store experience online. As consumers get more comfortable shopping online, brands must continue to look for ways to bridge the physical and digital worlds to guide consumers throughout their modern and fragmented consumer journey, and to not lose them along the way.

Read on to discover more about the US Online Beauty Retailing market, read our US Gen Z Beauty Consumer Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Beauty and Personal Care Market research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the beauty market.
  • Beauty products purchased online, US beauty retailing channels, and reasons behind purchases.
  • Shopping methods and considerations.
  • Attitudes toward the online shopping experience.
  • The US beauty retailing industry, and US beauty retailing channels.
  • Beauty and personal care e-commerce in the US.

Covered in this report

BPC Retailers & Brands include: Tula, Olivia Palermo Beauty, Henkel, L’Oréal, LVMH, Unilever, Natura&Co, Prose, Milk Makeup, Credo Beauty, Uoma, Rare Beauty, Morphe, Glossier, Amazon, Sephora, Ulta, Kora Organics, Estee Lauder, Target, MeJuri, Cadence, Saie, Manscaped, Beautycounter, Glossier, Fenty Beauty, MexicanButJapanese, Eadem, Amazon, Kohl’s, ColourPop, Kosas, LolaVie, Thrive Causemetics, Shiseido, Dyson Hair, Olive and June, Merit, Mantl, Flamingo, Neutrogena, CeraVe, Ouai, Olaplex, Givenchy Beauty, Item Beauty.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Marisa Ortega, a leading analyst in the Retail and eCommerce sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The pandemic has impacted consumers’ lifestyles resulting in altered beauty routines and shifts in shopping behaviors. The in-store experience continues to be challenged – consumers are now shopping and engaging online as a choice instead of what initially was a need. Moving forward, the consumer journey will be more blended across channels, with digital channels playing a critical role throughout the entire path to purchase.
Marisa Ortega, Cross-category analyst
Marisa Ortega
Retail and eCommerce Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales and forecast of the beauty market, at current prices, 2016-26
    • Impact of COVID-19 on Online Beauty Retailing
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on online beauty retailing, October 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Sustainable expectations are here to stay
    • Evolve as beauty routines are doing so
    • Streamline the shopping process through social commerce
    • Close the gap between online and in-store shopping
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Beauty routines continue to evolve
    • There is a value-focused mindset influencing the beauty landscape
    • Technology is helping beauty to flourish
    • Modern life has new beauty standards
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • The focus on health and hygiene boosts total beauty retail sales
      • Figure 3: Total US sales and forecast of the beauty market, at current prices, 2016-26
      • Figure 4: Total US sales and forecast of the beauty market, at current prices, 2016-26
    • Impact of COVID-19 on Online Beauty Retailing
  5. Segment Performance

    • DIY behaviors benefit retail sales of nail and hair color products
    • Color cosmetic sales start to pick back up
    • The focus on wellness keeps facial skincare sales stable
  6. Market Factors

    • Consumer spending returns, but economic factors continue to bring caution
      • Figure 5: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-21
    • Changing lifestyles and beauty standards shift how consumers approach beauty
      • Figure 6: Unretouched beauty by TULA, 2021
    • Technology is essential to keep consumers engaged online
      • Figure 7: Livestream shopping by Olivia Palermo Beauty, 2021
    • Beauty embarks on leading environmental change
      • Figure 8: Sustainable activism by Uoma Beauty, 2021
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Digitally native brands seek to scale in brick and mortar
    • Brands seek collaborations to achieve their goals
    • Retailers maximize opportunities around holiday shopping
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Rare Beauty explores zines
      • Figure 9: Rare Beauty exploring Zines, 2021
    • Morphe teams up with TikTok icons
      • Figure 10: Morphe collaboration with Tiktok influencers, 2021
    • Glossier expands its physical presence
      • Figure 11: Physical retail expansion by Glossier, 2021
    • Amazon welcomes holiday shopping with a beauty event
  9. Market Opportunities

    • Look at sustainability from a 360 angle
      • Figure 12: Refillable concept by Kora Organics, 2021
    • Incorporate digital offerings
    • Turn to subscriptions for customer retention
    • Seek strategic and meaningful partnerships
      • Figure 13: Amanda S.C. Gorman partnership with Estee Lauder, 2021
    • Support men’s hygiene routines and self-esteem
      • Figure 14: Educational content by Manscaped, 2021
  10. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Consumers are focused on their health and hygiene
    • Recognize and address consumers’ diverse beauty needs
    • Consumers want seamless shopping experiences
    • Consumers need reassurance when shopping online
    • Social media is key to engaging with beauty shoppers
  11. Products Purchased

    • Consumers are shopping across segments but focused on essentials
      • Figure 15: Products purchased, 2021
    • Young women like to explore with different products
      • Figure 16: Products purchased by gender and age – Women, 2021
      • Figure 17: Multi-generational content by mexicanbutjapanese, 2021
    • There is no one-size-fits-all in beauty
      • Figure 18: Eadem addressing specific BIPOC needs, 2021
      • Figure 19: Products purchased by race and ethnicity, 2021
  12. Shopping Methods

    • In-store shopping is preferred, but online is on the rise
      • Figure 20: Shopping methods, 2021
    • Omnichannel is the way to move forward
      • Figure 21: Shopping methods by generation, 2021
  13. Retailers Shopped

    • Beauty shoppers are prioritizing value
      • Figure 22: Retailers shopped, 2021
      • Figure 23: Sephora + Kohl’s partnership, 2021
    • The meaning of value can differ by age
      • Figure 24: Retailers shopped online by generation, 2021
      • Figure 25: Collaboration focused collection by Colourpop, 2021
  14. Purchase Considerations

    • Beauty shoppers want convenience, but they are not willing to pay extra for it
      • Figure 26: Purchase considerations, 2021
      • Figure 27: Online sampling system by Kosas, 2021
    • Friction while shopping is so yesterday
      • Figure 28: Purchase considerations by generation, 2021
  15. Online Resources

    • Social media is a critical touchpoint when shopping for beauty
      • Figure 29: Online resources, 2021
      • Figure 30: Masterclass by Saie Beauty, 2021
    • Multicultural consumers are the most engaged using social media
      • Figure 31: Online resources by ethnicity and race, 2021
      • Figure 32: Efforts to appeal to multicultural consumers by Fenty skin, 2021
      • Figure 33: Who What Wear features hair colorist on podcast, 2021
  16. Social Media Behaviors

    • Social media is used in various ways, but most consumers are not transacting there, yet
      • Figure 34: Consumer reviews by Lolavie, 2021
      • Figure 35: Social media behaviors, 2021
    • Comfort with technology influences the use given to social media
      • Figure 36: Social media behaviors by gender and age, 2021
    • Multicultural consumers are taking advantage of social media features
      • Figure 37: Social media behaviors by ethnicity and race, 2021
  17. Online Content

    • Consumers look to make informed purchasing decisions
      • Figure 38: Types of online content, 2021
      • Figure 39: Top claims in skincare, 2018-20
    • Younger women want to learn about beauty
      • Figure 40: Types of online content by gender and age, 2021
      • Figure 41: Educational content by Thrive Causemetics, 2021
    • Asian shoppers are beauty detectives
      • Figure 42: Types of online content by ethnicity and race, 2021
      • Figure 43: Multipurpose Cushion Compact by Shiseido, 2021
  18. Activity by Segment

    • The more frequently a category is used, the more consumers engage with it online
      • Figure 44: Activity by category, 2021
      • Figure 45: National Hair Day and Hair Health by Dyson
    • Cosmetics and nail products are of particular interest to young women
      • Figure 46: Activity by segment by gender and age, 2021
      • Figure 47: How-to video by Olive and June, 2021
    • Asian consumers are the most engaged with skincare online
      • Figure 48: Activity by category, by ethnicity and race, 2021
  19. Beauty Preferences

    • Beauty shoppers are simplifying their beauty routines
      • Figure 49: The five minute morning set by Merit, 2021
    • Consumers expect beauty brands to behave ethically
      • Figure 50: Beauty preferences, 2021
      • Figure 51: Editorial awards highlighted by Saie beauty, 2021
    • Young adults are at an exploration and learning phase
      • Figure 52: Beauty preferences by age and gender, 2021
      • Figure 53: Kind tone and voice by Mantl, 2021
      • Figure 54: Flamingo with Ashley Graham, 2021
    • Multicultural beauty shoppers seek mission-driven products and brands
      • Figure 55: Beauty preferences by ethnicity and race, 2021
  20. Brand Engagement

    • Specialty beauty retailers lead in engagement
      • Figure 56: Brand engagement by generation, 2021
      • Figure 57: Ulta Beauty x Supergreat, 2021
    • Dermocosmetics focus on a “skin health for all” approach
      • Figure 58: Brand engagement by ethnicity and race, 2021
      • Figure 59: Diversity efforts by Neutrogena, 2021
    • Engagement has many routes
      • Figure 60: Brand engagement by age and income, 2021
      • Figure 61: Hair professionals contest by Olaplex, 2021
  21. Attitudes Toward the Online Beauty Experience

    • The comfort level with shopping online continues to increase
      • Figure 62: Attitudes toward the online beauty experience by gender and age, 2021
      • Figure 63: Cross-category partnership by Cadence, Saie and MeJuri, 2021
    • Consumers’ interest in shopping at stores continues to be impacted
      • Figure 64: Attitudes toward the online beauty experience by race and ethnicity, 2021
      • Figure 65: Shade finding service by Rare beauty, 2021
    • Tap into virtual offerings to appeal to young consumers
      • Figure 66: Attitudes toward the online beauty experience by generation, 2021
      • Figure 67: NFT by Givenchy Beauty, 2021
  22. Online Shopping Drivers

    • Beauty shoppers seek value shopping online
      • Figure 68: Online shopping drivers, 2021
    • Young generations have a lot to say about the online shopping experience
      • Figure 69: Online shopping drivers by generation, 2021
      • Figure 70: Shopping tab on Tiktok by Item Beauty, 2021
  23. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  24. Appendix – The Consumer

    • Online Discussion Panel
    • Channel preference
    • Ideal shopping experience
    • Subscription services
    • Struggles shopping online
    • Self-care and wellbeing
    • Natural body image
    • Brand ethics research

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