Beauty Category Plans for the Future

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Beauty Category Plans for the Future

By Seth Mendelson - 05/12/2020

From Drug Store News, May 11:

Will consumers turn to mass retailers for their beauty needs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

While few industry observers want to talk about it, there seems to be a growing consensus that shoppers will look to mass outlets for their products for two very important reasons: price and accessibility. 

Before the pandemic hit in March, the mass-market beauty category finally was showing a flicker or two of life after three years of difficult growth as more consumers turned to premier brands sold mainly through department stores. Now those department stores are closed and consumers who still want to look good — even if they are stuck at home — are taking advantage of their trips to the drug store and food store to purchase cosmetics and other beauty supplies. 

No one really knows when the pandemic will end and what consumer shopping habits will be like when it does. Still, mass retailers are creating the perception with shoppers that they are here during the crisis, with good selection and price points, and will be here after it ends too. 

Will shoppers who ran to the local CVS Pharmacy for a thermometer make a mental note of the bevy of new items stocked in beauty when they are ready for a new blush? After dashing out for a new skin care product they couldn’t buy at Sephora, will consumers stick with the No7 they purchased at Walgreens? Can Ulta Beauty’s online tools build up pent-up demand when stores open with their well-trained beauty experts at the ready? “A lot of times, people think it’s great that e-commerce is up and running, which is great, but 80% to 85% of retail sales still happen in brick-and-mortar stores,” Ulta Beauty’s Mary Dillon said in an interview with CNBC on March 25. “We feel that going back to normal and enjoying things you enjoyed will be high on the list of priorities.”

Certain categories will undoubtedly see renewed consumer interest, such as at-home hair coloring; nail color, as people could be slow to return to nail salons; at-home devices to duplicate spa services; and skin care, as people rethink procedures. Augmented reality apps to virtually try on beauty are expected to gain traction as testers could be a thing of the past in beauty doors. The industry waits for how it will all shake out. 

Below, industry executives discuss actions they took in the wake of COVID-19, such as free educational programming, and what they see happening in the months to come. 

Carlotta Jacobson, president, CEW 
One of CEW’s strengths has always been to offer knowledge and networking, and now that mission is more critical than ever. With the largest global database in the industry of more than 10,000 executives, CEW is in an ideal position to give back to the beauty community by offering free programming and content to both members and nonmembers.

We are producing a robust calendar of webinars that we are now offering for free. We have also opened subscription access and adapted the content of our Beauty News digital newsletter to provide timely information for brands in developing strategies to navigate these uncharted waters. In addition, we are working to create our events into digital experiences, and offering virtual member meetups and discussion forums to help people feel less isolated while working remotely. 

We will continue to develop our plans to meet the changing needs of the industry over the course of the coming months. Over these many years, the beauty industry has supported CEW, and it is our priority to support them in a time of need.

View full article from sister publication Drug Store News.