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Nielsen: E-commerce Is Reversing Slowdown in Mass Beauty and Personal Care

E-commerce is growing faster than brick-and-mortar, but shoppers still crave the experience physical stores offer in beauty.

E-commerce is proving to be more friend than foe for the beauty and personal-care category.

According to data released by market research firm Nielsen, e-commerce is actually reversing the slowdown of sales in certain consumer-packaged goods including beauty.

“Even today, e-commerce already represents a significant share of the beauty business and it is one that is growing incredibly rapidly,” said Jordan Rost, vice president of consumer insights for Nielsen. “Although currently a small slice of the pie, it [e-commerce] is growing the entire pie so much faster than we are seeing in stores.”

Beauty and personal care racked up notable growth for the 52-week period ended Dec. 31, 2016, as reported by Nielsen. In-store sales increases were limited to 0.6 percent in beauty and 1.3 percent in personal care. Online sales for both categories escalated 10 percent.

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While e-commerce is growing faster than traditional outlets, Rost said there are still people who want the experience of shopping physical stores. “What we hear from consumers across beauty is that the in-store experience plays an important in helping them determine what products and brands to buy.”

Rost said the findings reveal that brands’ digital efforts are coalescing. Consumers, who first went online to research beauty and look for inspiration, now have the ability to purchase those products online. “I think the opportunity for brands is to find out how you connect all those consumer touch points and make it a seamless journey from inspiration to purchase,” Rost explained.

For retailers, he said the trend encourages merchants to not look at off-line versus off-line. “Instead, look at how does the online channel amplify the in-store experience and vice versa.”

The data was part of Nielsen’s first release on the e-commerce landscape comparing in-store and online performance in select categories. It provides a comprehensive consumer view of 90 percent of fast-moving consumer goods online sales within the U.S. market. The tool brings together robust data from a variety of resources to gain an accurate read of the digital marketplace. Among the sources are online purchase data and consumer-sourced data sets including e-receipts, Nielsen’s Homescan and other Nielsen proprietary consumer data. A diverse set of e-receipt partners provides a demographically balanced panel and provides stability against market shifts and development within the evolving digital marketplace, Rost concluded.