Why are Online Shoppers ‘Good News’ for Beauty Businesses?

In-store shopping is on a standstill, will this hurt the Indian beauty businesses?


The cascading effect of the second covid wave appears to be doomsday for the beauty businesses as they still grapple to revive the losses incurred from the first covid wave. The imposition of partial to full lockdowns in various states is translating to no in-store shopping at malls and shops, working from home, cancellation of weddings and festive occasions, no office parties and weekend getaways and a pause on non-essential products. This is creating a lesser headroom for sales and demand for the beauty businesses. 

However, the joint study report from Google, Kantar, and WPP titled ‘Connected Beauty Consumer report’ seems to bring a wavering light of hope for the Indian beauty businesses as it reveals that the Indian beauty & personal care industry is estimated to be a market worth $ 15.17 billion by 2024, from $ 9.98 billion in 2019, thanks to the shoppers leaning more towards online channels. 

The buyer’s affinity to purchase beauty products from online channels has ballooned up to 1.35 times during the pandemic as per a joint report by Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group. The report also says that at least 51 percent of the consumers will favour spending online out of which 43 percent of them will spend purchasing beauty products online. 

From In-store shoppers to online shoppers of beauty products 

Beauty treatments such as facials, waxing, hair spa, hair colouring, etc. require assistance from salons and beauty parlours. Since lockdowns have nudged the people to stay indoors, a majority of Indian consumers have no other option but to depend on digital and social media platforms to watch beauty tutorials and do-it-yourself (DIY) content. This is paving the way for the surge in online sales of beauty products. 

The Connected Beauty Consumer report says that 9 out of 10 beauty consumers sought help from the digital medium for advice, ideas and inspiration to purchase beauty products. YouTube is emerging to be a beauty advisor and search- as -a -discovery platform for beauty consumers. The survey conducted by the body finds that around 81 percent of the consumers engaged with beauty influencers and 26 percent of them bought the product after watching a video. 

Since uncertainty exists about the complete eradication of the virus and things returning to normalcy, the purchase of beauty products through online channels is anticipated to continue for the next 4-5 years.

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the joint study report from Google, Kantar, and WPP titled ‘Connected Beauty Consumer report’ says that the Indian beauty & personal care industry is estimated to be a market worth $ 15.17 billion by 2024, from $ 9.98 billion in 2019. 

Emergence of Online Shoppers: A Good News for the Beauty Businesses? 

The study from EY (Ernst and Young) India confirms that in the next 4-5 years 94 percent of online shoppers in India will use smartphones where 67 percent will do more shopping online. As the virtual and digital lifestyle will continue to stay, it will be imperative for the beauty businesses to invest more in technology, explore new target audiences and develop new products for the upcoming new problems. 

Below are some of the strategies that beauty businesses can adapt to stay relevant in such grim scenarios: 

  • Investing in Augmented Reality technology: Since the current situation demands no contact, beauty businesses majorly selling cosmetics and make-up should take efforts in replicating the in-store experience online by investing in technologies like – augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). AR and VR will act as replacements for testers found in stores. The use of AR filters will aid consumers to search for the precise shade of lipstick or foundation, offering adequate convenience to the consumers.
  • Build your App: Many beauty brands with no prior presence online will now have to pivot to the digital realm by launching their apps. Having an app will enable local beauty brands and businesses to change how they connect with their customers. The tech-savvy consumer of recent times demands a personalised and consistent service from a company. Building an app will aid the business to quickly understand the purchasing pattern of consumers and offer an optimised shopping experience. An app also helps in branding building and is an efficient marketing tool. 
  • Offering virtual consultations: D2C beauty brand Forest Essentials has launched a personalised consultation service ‘Speak to Your Store’ on its platform, where customers can seek consultations from Ayurveda experts and doctors for product recommendations and consultations on lifestyle and ayurvedic dosha. Surprisingly customers from semi-urban cities are the dominant users of this service. Similarly, beauty businesses can offer dermatological assistance to consumers through video consultations.  
  • New Problems Require New Solutions: Wearing masks have now become an inseparable part of our lives. Mask snugly covers the mouth and nose where the synthetic fibres of the mask do not absorb the sweat causing blockage of skin pores and giving birth to ‘Maskne’ – acne from masks – and skin irritations. Covid healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses might be battling this problem of Maskne. The beauty business can create disruptions in the market by coming up with cream or powder product solutions that can ease the skin irritation arising due to masks.

Also, since a mask covers three -fourth of the face, consumers will buy fewer lipsticks and emphasise more on eye makeup. Beauty businesses should leverage this shift and introduce products more on the eye make-up range for the women of the virtual workforce. 

  • The new target audience ‘Men’: Men have long been neglected by beauty brands and businesses. The beauty businesses should compensate for their lost revenues by focusing on men’s personal care and grooming segment by launching various shaving gels, sunscreen range, and beard care range to make them virtual office-ready.  
  • Launch more DIY content: Cosmetics major L’oreal has utilised its YouTube channel to create DIY content and online grooming sessions under the label‘ Lockdown Binge’ to teach people how to colour hair at home. Beauty businesses launching their independent tutorials about a haircut and skincare persuades people to imitate and buy the same products used in the video which in turn generates sales. 

What is in it for the beauty businesses? 

In grim scenarios like these people want to remain positive and grooming externally helps the consumers to remain cheerful. Beauty businesses should leverage this emotion and create content and solutions to ease the lives of people. 

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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