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NielsenIQ Talks Beauty Trends, Divulges Details of New Modern Shoppers

NielsenIQ discusses its deep dive into consumer trends from the beauty sphere.

Modern-day beauty shoppers are looking for a lot more than just products, according to recent research by NielsenIQ.

At the Beauty Inc @20 event, NielsenIQ led a discussion on The New Modern Shopper Experience with Tara James Taylor, senior vice president of the Beauty & Personal Care Vertical at NielsenIQ. According to Taylor, the future of beauty will be driven by five themes: transformed shopper experiences; omni-shoppers; the indie uprise; content commerce, and inclusive beauty.

NielsenIQ found that online beauty sales significantly accelerated as shoppers “flocked” to dot-com due to pandemic-related store closures: Ulta Beauty saw 18 percent of its dot-com growth shift from brick-and-mortar shoppers, totaling to 58 percent dot-com sales growth. For Walmart, 15 percent of its dot-com growth came from shifting brick-and-mortar consumers, with 50 percent growth for its dot-com sales, while Sephora lost $32 million of its brick-and-mortar sales to

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And business models such as subscription boxes have seen double-digit growth, with an increase of 16 percent of consumers (in dollar volume) “rethinking” sampling.

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“These beauty box consumers are enthusiasts,” Taylor said. “They are powerhouse beauty fashionistas, they are a bit younger, higher income, and they spend a tremendous amount more than the average beauty consumer that is not a subscriber to a beauty box, sometimes making almost two times more purchases.”

Taylor also discussed the increasing popularity of indie brands, a category that’s leading the COVID-19 recovery in beauty. It’s the fastest recovering category in the sector, recovering more than 132 percent of sales post-COVID-19, compared to 99 percent for the industry as a whole — and as a result, indie brands are “ripe for acquisition.”

Inside Sephora on 34th street.
Inside Sephora on 34th street. Joshua Scott/WWD

Thanks to indie brands’ trend-makers, authentic influence, rapid innovation and a values-first approach to beauty, these smaller brands are leading the pack. Indie brands’ modern approach to business means they can meet demand in as little as 20 weeks — and according to Taylor, their prioritization of social consciousness, values and innovation, and emphasis on organic, clean ingredients make them standouts. Described as small but mighty, these brands are disrupting the market and simultaneously experiencing explosive growth.

Content commerce — which NielsenIQ defines as “a multichannel and multidevice opportunity that allows consumers to purchase a product directly from a social platform” — is another emerging trend that has dominated the beauty and social spheres. Beauty brands are jumping on the bandwagon after seeing a major uptick in sales through content commerce, even for laughably mundane products such as the household product Gorilla Glue that have taken on new uses due to creative engagement with consumers.

Inclusivity is also gaining traction in the beauty community. “It’s not just people anymore, it’s not just their sexual preference, it’s really about what you have as a social conscious as a company and making sure that you’re representing their voice in the marketplace,” Taylor said, which is inclusive of nonbinary products and embracing the older beauty consumer. The modern consumer has different needs, and brands must understand each cohort in a deeper way, she added.

The bottom line? The future focus on beauty is based on mastering four concepts: growth, with a focus on the omni consumer, in-store experiences, rise of indie brands, content commerce and inclusivity; thinking digital-first; adapting with speed, and, perhaps most importantly, uncompromising authenticity.


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