Study highlights a decline in online color cosmetics sales in the US

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Study highlights a decline in online color cosmetics sales in the US

Related tags Color cosmetics Brand

A new study shows that while the specialty retail channel continues to drive the color cosmetics market, consumers are buying fewer products online.

The study was carried out by Toluna on behalf of market research company TABS, and included 1,000 respondents demographically and geographically dispersed all over the United States to determine their spending patterns on face, eye, lip, nail and gift cosmetic sets.

The main focus for the survey was to determine what type of color cosmetics consumers are buying, the outlets they are buying them from, brand awareness and the part that promotional tactics plays in the purchasing process.

Study highlights shifts in consumer patterns

According to Dr. Kurt Jetta, TABS Group founder and principle of author of a study based on the survey findings, a number of key trends were flagged up by the survey findings.

“One of the most significant stories is that online sales are declining for the color cosmetics category in the US,”​ said Jetta.

“We also track a number of other consumer segments, including vitamins, where we have witnessed that online sales are pretty stagnant, but in the cosmetics segment they have actually declined.”

Currently the online market for cosmetics accounts for approximately 8% of sales, but despite color cosmetics companies and retailers investing significant resources in developing apps and online retail channels to encourage digital sales, it doesn’t appear to be working.

Too much choice is key to shift away from online

“We put this down to the fact that consumers like to make their choices according to brands and different choices, as well as the fact that buying cosmetics is far more of an indulgent experience than just sitting in front of a screen. Therefore the decision has to be made in a store with the choices in front of the consumer to experiment with,” ​Jetta added.

It is also interesting to note that, color cosmetics brand awareness is being increasingly developed through social media, this is not translating into digital sales.

The TABS cosmetics study is the second in the series, which Jetta believes gives the research some important benchmarks to compare with last year, rather than indicating any major new or longer-term trends.

However, the survey feedback does also provide a significant indication that the speciality retailers are really helping to drive color cosmetics, with cutting edge brands such as  e.l.f., Bobbi Brown, MAC and Urban Decay being the brands that are really leading the way.

Who is buying color cosmetics and where?

So who is buying these type of cosmetics and where? Jetta says that survey responses showed that Sephora and Ulta are storming ahead in the retail category and it’s millennials that just can’t seem to get enough of it.

“I have always been negative on the obsession with millennials because they are not the largest consumer segment or close. But in this particular category the millennial consumer is very important, and indeed they are by far the largest buyers,”​ Jetta said.

The survey results also highlighted the fact that color cosmetic consumers in the US have very limited brand loyalty, with the average number of brands purchased by heavy consumers running at eight, while the results for consumers overall in the category came in at five different brands.

“Cosmetics consumers love to buy lots of brands, which is why the notion of brand loyalty needs to be completely reconsidered for this category as it’s much more challenging to hold an individual’s attention with so much choice available,”​ Jetta said.

Dr. Kurt Jetta will present the findings from TABS 2nd Annual Cosmetics Survey during a webinar presentation, which will be broadcast on December 9th​. For registration details, please click here​.

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