Jan 5, 2022
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Physical stores are key locations for beauty shopping, but social is growing - report

Jan 5, 2022

Beauty shoppers may have been turning online both through choice and out of necessity during the pandemic, but shopping in physical stores remains their preferred way of buying beauty products, a new study showed on Wednesday.

Photo: Pexels/Public domain

Global retail tech agency Outform surveyed 2,000 beauty and personal care consumers across the UK, US and Germany, and found that in-store shopping still reigns.

But shoppers are also increasingly turning to social media platforms like Pinterest, TikTok and Snapchat as they ramp up their shoppable functions and AR tech to drive purchases.

Some 59% of survey respondents said visiting physical stores is their favourite way to shop for make-up, and experiences like speaking to consultants on the shop floor influence 39% of consumers to buy.

The researchers also asked specifically about consumers’ feeling towards social media shopping, which is particularly interesting given a study yesterday from Accenture that said social shopping may be small but is ever-more-important for beauty buys.

The Outform study showed only 15% prefer using a brand’s social media page for make-up, which is perhaps no surprise given how it remains a relatively new channel.

The aim of the study was to explore how consumer habits are continuing to shift when shopping for beauty and personal care products in a post-lockdown world.

And while the fondness for physical shopping may suggest that habits haven't changed that much, shopping via social media is clearly a bigger thing than it was pre-pandemic. And as a channel that influences purchasing decisions (whether the purchase is actually made online or in-store) it's even more important.

Admittedly, the biggest group (38%) of consumers say in-store displays are most useful for helping them to discover beauty products. But a sizeable 16% feel that brand updates on social media also help.

And 42% of 35-44 year-olds say that brands’ social platforms are key to deciding whether to purchase. The same percentage of 18-24-year-olds are also inspired by social media influencers when it comes to make-up. 

And 34% of the younger group say online skin consultations are valuable when making purchase decisions while 33% say the same for virtual make-up tutorials. Men are also 2% higher overall (28%) in finding the latter important across all age groups.

Group MD EMEA Simon Hathaway said of all this: “Online shoppable functions and AR testers aren’t yet a patch on in-store shopping. But platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are fundamental in engaging consumers with beauty brands’ values and ethos.

“And while they’re not yet the primary checkout tool, social platforms are influencing behaviours, particularly if it’s user-generated content that customers can trust. Capturing online and offline data will help to identify where different cohorts are engaging with products — which isn’t always where they’ll make a purchase — and this knowledge can be used to make browsing and buying seamless through different channels.”

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