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Beauty’s Digital Future Is Bright

NielsenIQ's Tara James Taylor said the data shows a host of opportunities for beauty brands.

As the beauty market continues to grow, online sales have emerged as a key driver. But are beauty brands pulling all the right levers to trigger higher conversions? According to Tara James Taylor, senior vice president of the beauty personal care vertical at NielsenIQ, there are a lot of opportunities for beauty brands in a digitally dominant future.

Taylor’s presentation, titled “Beauty’s Digital Future,” focused on the notable trends driving online sales, which include a shift toward wellness and self-care as well as purchases that mix mass and prestige. Sustainable beauty products are also top of mind for shoppers. But they don’t always use that term, she said.

Taylor said clean beauty is evolving. “It started with removing the harmful ingredients, which is growing exponentially,” she noted. “The way that we define it is pretty complex.” Taylor explained that clean beauty encompasses a broad range of products — and all are tracked by NielsenIQ.

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“Consumers want sustainability, biodegradability, and plastic-free, which are growing exponentially,” she said. “We see the next evolution is with fair trade.” And with sustainability, shoppers are not searching for that exact term, she continued, adding that “biodegradable” comes up instead. Taylor said brands need to make sure these search terms appear on their product pages.

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“Aluminum-free is seeing 120 percent growth in search trends right now, yet it’s still in 20 percent of deodorants,” she said. “So to me, if you have an aluminum-free deodorant, are you actually touting that online? Are they able to find you when they search for aluminum-free? The same thing with biodegradable; it’s growing in search terms by 36 percent. When we talk about makeup, oil-free is something that’s been really important to consumers for a long time. And yet over a quarter of the products that actually have it to claim are not claiming it.”

Taylor said the overall way consumers shop has been transformed by the pandemic. Consumers are multitasking and time-strapped, which is “leading to this huge onset of growth within omnichannel sales and online,” she said.

Taylor said there is a “constant search for things online” while the needs of consumers are changing, “and they’re actually not searching for just a product or brand anymore.” She noted that 81 percent of Amazon grocery searches are unbranded.

“This becomes even more complicated because there are over 50,000 products for beauty online and only 8,850 in-store,” Taylor said. “And that speaks to how competitive it is out there. So you have to get your online digital shelf aligned to your in-store one because at the end of the day if it’s not in-store, it might not be getting to that online availability.”

Taylor said other notable trends include “more glam” as well as “a nod to more self-expression” as well as growth in self-care. “Women and men are caring for themselves at home with more baths, more CBD,” she said. “And the way that you speak to the consumer has evolved and it’s changed. Your online marketing campaigns have to resonate with them.”