In the beauty industry, e-commerce is the only channel that will continue to grow, McKinsey predicts, thanks to social media and the livestreaming trend from China. Competitive pressure between brands is increasing.
Cosmetics are perfect for online
The beauty sector is cautiously starting to recover after the corona pandemic. In 2020, global sales decreased by 15%, for 2021 McKinsey expects a growth of 13%. However, only in 2022 will the industry regain the level of pre-corona-year 2019. This is logical, as sitting at home offers fewer opportunities for make-up. However, a strong demand for self-care took its place: skin care is the fastest grower, and will remain so for the time being.
In its annual State of Fashion report, McKinsey this time also takes a closer look at the beauty category. For 2021, the consultant expects 22% growth in skin care, with another 10% to come in 2022. In 2024, skincare would already account for 34% of the global beauty market. The advantage: the category is not dependent on in-store testing and lends itself well to online sales.
Luxury has to get out of the ivory tower
Within all categories, competition continues to increase, especially in the luxury segment. The stakes are high, as beauty products are said to account for a third of all Chanel revenues. Luxury fashion houses therefore continue to rapidly expand their beauty ranges, such as Valentino, which launched its own beauty line in 2021. The premium segment was hit harder by the lockdowns than mass-market products, which are easier to get online and focus less on make-up, but between now and 2024 McKinsey forecasts annual growth of 13%. The luxury market is already worth $115 billion, about a quarter of the total beauty market.
However, to appeal to a sufficiently broad customer base, luxury houses will have to move away from their image of unattainable exclusivity. Consumers today expect a two-way conversation: direct-to-consumer brands such as Glossier and Drunk Elephant owe their success to their ‘community’ approach. Customers are involved and are part of the co-creation process. Luxury houses, too, have to come down from their ivory towers and build real communities, whether or not they organise virtual events and ask for feedback.
One clear consumer desire is for clean beauty: with the rapid emergence of young brands offering safe, natural and often vegan products, traditional players are also expanding their ranges to meet demand. Sephora‘s iconic shop on the Champs Élysées now has an entire space dedicated to clean beauty.
Half of all sales will be digital
The most important trend in the beauty category is digitalisation. E-commerce continues to take market share from physical shops. Online will account for 23% of all sales in 2022 and will simply be the largest channel by 2024. In China, a frontrunner in digitalisation, McKinsey expects more than half of all sales to take place online by 2023. L’Oréal also wants half of all sales to take place digitally in the long run.
It is striking that this is not just about webshops. Digital sales channels are very diverse, with social media – from TikTok and Instagram to WeChat – as a growing channel, marketplaces such as Amazon and only in last place traditional retail and brand sites or apps. The cosmetics sector is even ideally suited to social shopping. Consumers are already familiar with online beauty tutorials, and in China, brands that are surfing on the popularity of social commerce are showing amazing growth rates.
Social shopping becomes mainstream
Half of TikTok users in the US have purchased something through the platform and the majority of US Gen Z and Millennials already prefer to discover beauty products through social media. So, in the West, social shopping will grow too, although the market is more fragmented and lacks easy, seamless payment options.
The lack of an established livestreaming culture in the West also means that brands will have to devise new strategies to attract customers. “Content will become increasingly important, and brands will need to deliver relevant and entertaining shoppable content combined with seamless e-commerce logistics,” the report concludes.
Digitalisation does not mean that shops are disappearing. Certainly for make-up, physical testing remains a great added value. The pleasure of personal trials and the experience of physical shopping remain. Only it plays a different, less dominant role. In the long run, McKinsey expects that all non-digital channels, with the exception of ‘travel retail’, will at best retain their market share, but mostly lose it. The shop is increasingly becoming a showroom, where consumers look for entertainment and engagement, just like online.