Beautiful black african model with flawless skin smooth complexion applying moisturiser face cream to her cheek, beauty cosmetics skincare concept; Shutterstock ID 324717266; Usage (Print, Web, Both): both; Issue Date: 2 oct; Comments: wwd

When it comes to product discovery among young beauty consumers, makeup counters and aisles have lost a significant amount of ground to digital, according to Facebook IQ data released in a new report on Monday.

The social giant’s research arm conducted a survey of nearly 1,700 female beauty consumers ages 18 to 34 and found that as much as 46 percent find new cosmetics online. For 33 percent, discovery is not just on the Web, but in smartphone apps specifically.

Shopping on phones might not be an unusual phenomenon — on the contrary, it’s a way of life for a generation that came of age in the iPhone era. But unlike other types of goods, “these are products people typically want to try, smell, touch and experiment with,” Ann Mack, Facebook’s director of insights marketing, told WWD.

Furthermore, once shoppers become aware of new products, more than a third assess them online as well, the study showed. Of course, that means that the vast majority of product evaluations still happen in brick-and-mortar locations, at 61 percent. But, from the looks of it, the tide appears to be changing.

“What was especially interesting — and surprising — to see was how important discovery is to the consumer journey and inspiring their purchases, and how drastically that has changed,” said Mack. “The beauty industry, once dominated by offline channels, is undergoing a period of disruption in terms of the ways people discover new trends, compare brands and buy products. Whereas shoppers previously found and tried new items in person and in stores, they’re now discovering and evaluating products online via platforms like Facebook and Instagram.”

Of course, since the tech company conducted the survey, it also asked about its own platforms. It found that 40 percent of its respondents discover new products through its “family of apps,” which include Instagram, Facebook and Messenger. And 65 percent said they come across beauty trends and “looks they’d like to try” in these apps.

More broadly, across social media in general, 44 percent are likely to buy makeup based on what they’ve seen in their feeds.

Mack believes there’s a lesson in this for retailers: “Brands should consider additional ways to mimic the in-store experience online to help shoppers feel more confident completing the purchase online.”

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