Keeping Pace in the Evolving Beauty Landscape

Published Sep 29, 2021

Tania Page, Research Director CPG & Retail

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It’s been well documented that people have made less effort in terms of personal appearance amidst the global pandemic. Between the shutdown of major commerce channels and diminished face-to-face interactions, it’s easy to understand why.

However, as we move beyond shutdowns and inch toward a semblance of normalcy, it begs the question: how will this affect beauty habits and consumption going forward? To understand changes in the beauty landscape, our team surveyed a sample of 1,000 nationally representative females across the UK, with a specific focus on regular buyers of beauty products and those who claim an interest in beauty.
For beauty brands, we came away with four key takeaways:

Adapt to Changing Behaviors

With people confined to their homes and away from the public eye, it should come as no surprise that 46% of respondents said they removed body hair less often and 45% washed their hair less. And because of this across-the-board decrease in previously habitual beauty behaviors, there was a decrease in overall consumption.

While consumption will normalize as people spend more time outside their homes, brands shouldn’t dismiss these changes entirely. We asked respondents to highlight the changes they made to their beauty routine during the lockdown, and one theme rose to the top. Across all behaviors, respondents elected for a more natural approach to beauty.

37% went more natural with makeup

31% wore less perfume

27% stopped or cut down on styling hair with heat tools

24% went more natural with hair color/style

Beauty consumers are keenly aware, now more than ever, of the long-term effects of the ingredients they put in or on their bodies. Brands would be wise to align with those evolving consumption habits as they plan for the future.

Focus on Empathy and Brand Values

Empathy is critical in today’s environment, so brands need to understand that and meet consumers where they are. While the pandemic allowed people to be more relaxed about their personal care at times, that didn’t mean they were apathetic about their appearance. Video calls, in particular, were a sensitive subject, with 82% of women claiming they were more conscious of their appearance as a result of increased video calls. Thirty-four percent went as far as turning off video because they hadn’t done their hair or makeup.

And when venturing outside of their homes, many felt masks had a negative impact on their appearance, too. An additional thirty-one percent of respondents found it difficult wearing lipstick or lip gloss with a mask, and a quarter said they caused an increase in spots or pimples. While both mask usage and video calls will decrease over time, understanding consumers’ pain points in real-time presents a huge opportunity for brands—whether in new product development efforts or developing messaging for a marketing campaign.

Mirror Shifting Shopper Channels

With 54% of women making beauty purchases online before the pandemic, the shift towards eCommerce was already in motion. During the pandemic, that number shot up to nearly seven in ten. Over a quarter of respondents say they will buy more products online compared to before the pandemic, and that number will only continue to grow higher.

When buying online, where are beauty consumers going? Above all else, they prefer to buy from broader retailer sites (39%) rather than beauty-specific retailer websites (18%) or a brand’s website (12%). Why? Here’s what respondents said:

52% better offers

49% better prices

46% ability to buy the products I need at the same time

35% rewards my loyalty

As digital native Gen Zs continue to age into adulthood, eCommerce will grow in importance. Businesses and brands in the beauty space need to optimize their digital and eCommerce offerings in order to keep pace.

Align to Evolving Media Habits

Whether it be through social media channels (50% in aggregate) or brand/store websites (49%), respondents made it clear that online sources have the greatest impact on beauty product purchasing. As you might imagine, that’s even more true when looking at 18-24 year-olds in isolation; eighty-five percent of respondents in this age group said they’re influenced by social media when buying beauty products. Which individual social media channels are most impactful?

58% Instagram

50% TikTok

49% YouTube

Instagram still leads the way, but the rapid rise of platforms like TikTok and YouTube shows that a variety of different content types are engaging younger beauty consumers. For brands in the beauty industry, it’s crucial to have an understanding of evolving beauty habits in order to ensure that their marketing messages are seen in the right places.

About Toluna

Toluna delivers real-time consumer insights at the speed of the on-demand economy. By combining global scale and local expertise with innovative technology and award-winning research design, we help clients explore tomorrow, now.

Toluna is the parent company of Harris Interactive Europe and KuRunData. Together, we strive to push the field of market research toward a better tomorrow.

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