The beauty industry is a major legacy industry. Some of the most well-known health and beauty brands like Revlon, Estee Lauder, and Mary Kay were founded in the early 1900s, nearly a century ago!
What is new is the e-commerce beauty industry. Once reserved for physical shopping at big-name department stores, beauty and personal care shopping has evolved into an experience where the brick-and-mortar stores are no longer a necessity.
The good news is that online shopping has paved the way for beauty brands who wouldn’t have been able to get their foot in the door (pun intended) at larger retailers. The bad news? Consumers have found themselves with an overwhelming number of beauty products and beauty brands to choose from. Cosmetics brands now face a saturated industry, with a good amount of competition.
So, how can e-commerce beauty brands stand out from the crowd? For one thing, they’ll need to keep up with constantly changing trends to stay relevant with beauty shoppers. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at the current state of the beauty e-commerce industry and the most popular trends to pay attention to over the year.
It’s a wonderful time to be in the beauty industry. In 2022 alone, health and beauty sales reached an estimated value of $836.5 billion. Not only that’ beauty e-commerce sales are predicted to hit upwards of $440 billion in just 5 years.
While the beauty industry has been around for centuries, only recently are we seeing a more digital focus. Thanks to the stay-at-home orders of 2020, shopping online for beauty products has become the norm. New technology such as virtual try-ons, livestream shopping, and online consultations have kept consumers engaged and satisfied in the online beauty world.
Additionally, direct-to-consumer brands like Glossier, Colourpop, and The Ordinary have gone viral on social media platforms over the past few years, with user-generated content and celebrity endorsements alike piquing the interest of hundreds of new customers each day.
While many online beauty brands have developed cult followings, beauty consumers are still relatively open to trying new products. A survey from Statista found that on third of online shoppers said 26-50% of their beauty purchases included new product lines. This means that while the competition is fierce within the cosmetics space, there’s plenty of room to increase market share.
But in order to build a community and engage with new and existing customers, cosmetics brands will need to stay ahead of the game to stand out from the crowd.
Without further ado, we present the ten most popular e-commerce beauty trends to watch out for (and master) in 2023.
As social media continues to be one of the biggest drivers of engagement for e-commerce, cosmetics brands are finding that working with beauty influencers is the ideal way to generate brand awareness and boost sales. Interestingly enough, in 2023, beauty brand influencer partnerships won’t be fully dependent on the largest follower count. With micro-influencers and content creators going viral almost every day, beauty brands will begin to pair with micro-influencers over celebrities.
Why? Partnering with more relatable, niche accounts is a more authentic approach that drives greater engagement. A celebrity account may have 4 million followers, but more than half of those followers may not be interested in beauty products. Whereas a beauty-focused micro-influencer account may only have 10k followers, but those followers are likely much more interested in beauty products than the celebrity’s account.
All those Instagram and TikTok filters that can change your face shape or add a full face of makeup in one second? That’s augmented reality. In beauty e-commerce, it’s making waves. Why? Shopping for beauty products online is typically a hit or a miss. After all, how can you know how a shade of lipstick will truly look until its actually in your hands (and on your lips?) This is where AR comes in.
Virtual try on technology enables customers to get a sense of how the product will look before they hit that purchase button. For e-commerce beauty brands, this is a vital way to increase confidence in consumer purchasing, lower return rates, and reduce friction within the buying journey. Online beauty brands who offer AR will ultimately stay one step ahead of those who don’t.
Beauty brand Lancome allows customers to either upload a photo of themselves or use a live camera to try on different shades of lipstick and foundation.
Beauty as self-care increased during the stay-at-home orders of 2020. With ample time on their hands, consumers began to turn to ritualistic skin care routines that included self-care inspired steps, like gua sha for facial relaxation and stimulation, hydrating face masks and oils, and turning to products with natural ingredients.
In 2023, self-care will be an essential part of the beauty industry. E-commerce brands who aren’t embracing this trend will quickly fall behind when it comes to acquiring new customers and keeping old ones. Beauty brands should try curating a few of their products as self-care or nighttime ritual sets, like Tatcha’s sets for skincare:
Beauty subscription boxes have been around for quite some time, and they aren’t going anywhere in 2023. With the ability to customize in relation to personal preferences, beauty boxes are perfect for consumers who are looking to find their new favorite products. Because they’re specifically curated, it takes some pressure off the consumer having to dig through the site and read reviews to find the ‘perfect’ product.
E-commerce beauty brands who add a subscription channel to their business are not only giving their customers more personalized options, they’re also building recurring revenue into their business model.
With the rise of TikTok over the past few years, it’d be amiss for beauty brands to not actively use the app. Not convinced? #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt currently has 45.7 billion views. Simply having a presence on the app can boost product discovery for beauty brands. But, that’s not all. TikTok offers a full suite of commerce solutions for businesses of all sizes.
From in-app shopping to product links and video ads, beauty brands can seamlessly connect with potential customers. And the best part? They won’t ever have to leave the app – it’s a surefire way to meet your customers right where they are.
Historically, the cosmetics industry hasn’t been very eco-friendly. Small products shipped out in plastic packaging can cause massive amounts of waste each year. But, the industry is changing for the better. Many brands are beginning to invest in sustainable packaging for a more environmentally-friendly fulfillment strategy.
A more sustainable approach is not only great for the earth, it’s what consumers want. Based on a study from GCI, 60% of US consumers say that sustainability is a large factor when purchasing beauty products. Not only that, but 15% of shoppers put sustainability efforts ahead of pricing when purchasing beauty products. For beauty companies, it’s high-time to develop authentic sustainability initiatives in 2023.
Beauty brands are uniquely positioned to offer hyper-personalized experiences for their customers. But what is hyper-personalization? Simply put, it’s using data and automation to create customized, personal experiences for customers that erase pain points and provide a frictionless experience.
For example, if a beauty shopper purchases a tub of moisturizer, the brand can trigger an automated email to go out around the time they’re likely to be running out of the product. Alternatively, brands can use behavioral data and historical purchases to curate a list of products that a customer might like.
Some beauty brands are even offering customized products according to skin-type, hair-type, age, lifestyle, environment, and more. Prose offers fully customized products for a personalized haircare routine (as long as their customer take a quick quiz first).
Another trend touching on personalization and seamless shopping experiences? Loyalty programs. A customer could be logging in to their account to discover a discount reward or open their latest order with a sample product surprise. Whatever the case, loyalty programs diversify the online shopping experience and channel engagement. It’s unique way to interact with customers who already love to shop at your store.
Not only this, but offering a loyalty program allows brands to track consumer behavior and ask for feedback from their top customers. This alone can help drive better business decisions in the long run. Plus, it shows your best customers that you care about their experience.
Perhaps the most important beauty e-commerce trend is walking away from only utilizing digital channels and taking an omnichannel approach. Why? Beauty enthusiasts shop online and offline nowadays. They want the best of both worlds – a stellar online experience with opportunities to connect in-person. In 2023, we’re going to see plenty of D2C beauty brands begin to embrace different selling channels like partnering with beauty retailers, selling on third-party marketplaces, utilizing social commerce, and more.
When brands begin to broaden into an omnichannel strategy, the chances of engaging with the right customer at the right time are much higher. In such a saturated beauty industry, this is especially important for brands who are looking to offer something unique and stand out from the crowd.
From the consistent use of models who look exactly the same to foundation shades that don’t account for all skin tones, it’s no secret that inclusive beauty has not always been the norm. However, led by a generation of younger consumers, 2023 customers are demanding more diversity and inclusion. They want to see themselves within beauty brands, rather than a version of beauty that isn’t attainable.
In fact, over 60% of US consumers say they are inspired when beauty brands offer diversity within their marketing. Inclusive beauty is not just a trend, instead, it’s an approach that all brands should consider if they want to keep their customers satisfied.
Beauty brand Ipsy just united with BoxyCharm. The result? Four subscription options all under the same brand name: Glam Bag, BoxyCharm by Ipsy, Icon Box and Refreshments. Each subscription box is curated specifically, including samples products, sustainable brands, or celebrity-backed assortments.
International cosmetics brand Lush has been highly regarded for its sustainability initiatives in the past, and continues to adapt in an effort to become more environmentally-friendly each year. In 2022, they refreshed their circular recycling program so that customers could get a dollar off their purchase for every Lush pot they brought in, or save 5 for a free face mask.
Once a solely direct-to-consumer business, beauty brand Glossier is expanding its horizons to a more omnichannel approach. Early this year, the brand began selling its products through Sephora.com and will soon move into their brick-and-mortar stores. Additionally, Glossier’s brand-new 7,000 square foot flagship store opened early February in SoHo.
The most exciting thing about the beauty industry? Change is the only constant. From micro-influencers to augmented reality to clean products, there will always be new beauty e-commerce trends on the horizon. So, beauty brands might be wondering how they can possible keep up. Well, we’ve got some good news. The one thing that doesn’t change in beauty (and any e-commerce vertical, for that matter) is putting the customer first.
Our advice to e-commerce beauty brands? Build a community and focus on providing the best possible customer experience – every time. The sales will follow!