By  on August 19, 2005

NEW YORK — Ten years after its launch, eBay is becoming one of beauty's hottest retail outlets.

With 157 million registered users worldwide — 75 million of whom live in the U.S., the remainder spread amongst 32 other countries — the auction site is a natural market for nearly all segments of the beauty market, said Sam McDonagh, senior category manager for eBay health and beauty.

"At any given time, there are more than 300,000 beauty products available for sale on eBay in the U.S.," he pointed out, adding that sellers run the gamut from bricks-and-mortar retailers aiming to clear out discontinued products to consumers making a buck from impossible-to-find products. Wholesalers and manufacturers are also part of the mix. "EBay works across the entire product life cycle — from new and hard-to-find to discontinued products."

In 2004, the last year for which full-year figures in beauty and health sales were tallied, the category racked up $196 million, a 63 percent gain over the previous year.

Brian Rudie, senior brand manager for Jergens, believes that the site actually helped drive demand for one of its most successful recent drugstore launches, Jergens Natural Glow, a body lotion/self-tanner hybrid. "The brand planned for a successful product launch and had sufficient plans to handle typical consumer demand for a new lotion," said Rudie. "What we did not count on was the tremendous amount of buzz that this product would have with consumers. We have not previously had products reselling on eBay for a 50 percent premium over what it is sold for in stores. Also, we have never had over 38,000 people sign up on a waiting list for a new product," he said, referring to requests logged by mass retailers.

"There are always vintage Jergens items available for sale on eBay, so we are already connected to eBay's community," added Rudie. "The Jergens Natural Glow eBay auction situation was interesting because that is the most attention that has been given online to a new innovation from Jergens. We believe that much of the popularity of the online buzz for Jergens natural glow was the merging of a trusted American icon brand with breakthrough new product innovation."

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