As retailers prepare for post-COVID-19 digital commerce, here are data points for cosmetics, skin care, and hair care brands to consider as they market online.

Boaz Grinvald. CEO of Revuze

The beauty product category is among those that have changed the most in the 25+ years since the introduction of ecommerce.

Just take a look at these defining 80s beauty brands. How many can you purchase on Sephora.com today? Not many, if any.

Sephora only opened its first physical store in the U.S. in 1998 and its online store in 1999. Ulta Beauty also launched n the 1990s, and Kylie Cosmetics? Company founder Kylie Jenner was not born until born in 1997. 

In the last few months, the entire world changed as much as the world of beauty changed since the 1990s. Things that seemed natural in January—like going to the mall—are no longer part of our “new normal,” with many people shifting even more of their shopping to digital channels.

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While the shift to digital commerce in COVID-19 has been well-documented, what will this mean for ecommerce as we return to this new normal? As we prepare for post-COVID-19 digital commerce, here are data points for cosmetics, skin care, and hair care brands to consider as they market online.

Does the product moisturize (because of washing) and sanitize (against viruses)?

We’re not going to suddenly stop washing our hands or being concerned about getting COVID-19. That’s why beauty and particularly skin care brands need to consider the values of moisturizing and sanitizing in their products.

In the last few months, the use of the term “moisturize” in product reviews of skin care products increased by 56% compared with the same period in 2019. This is a trend that will last. Even in reviews of hair care products, there has been a noticeable increase in the use of the terms “hydrate/moisture.” Therefore, skin care brands whose products deliver an authentic moisturizing user experience will benefit.

The use of the term “sanitize” is also trending in shopper reviews, as one would expect. However, product marketers need to be conscious of the medical requirements for proper sanitization, which, unlike “moisturizing,” isn’t a subjective value.

Performance and price/value for money have become more critical

 When comparing frequently discussed topics in reviews of cosmetics, skin care and hair care brands in Q1 2019 vs. Q2 2020, “performance” and “price/value for money” made significant increases. With the financial impact of COVID-19 to be felt through 2020 and beyond, online beauty marketers should consider the performance value of their offerings as they price and package products.

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Where is the product made?

COVID-19 originated in a wet market in the city of Wuhan, China, and criticism has already been leveled against Chinese officials for delaying warning the public of the coronavirus threat for several days. With the U.S. presidential elections in November, it’s likely that anti-China sentiments will only increase. This might make certain segments of beauty shoppers more sensitive about purchasing products made in China.

As anyone who works in the retail supply chain knows, a remarkably high percentage of the products bought in the U.S. and other countries come from China. But companies whose products are manufactured elsewhere—like Samsung phones, which are Samsung makes predominantly in Vietnam—could benefit.

Both positive comments about products made in the U.S. and negative comments from people saying that they refuse to buy products made in China have been on the rise in Q1 2020 vs. Q1 2019. This is a trend that online beauty marketers should consider when making product sourcing and marketing decisions in 2020.

Vitamins in beauty products

Along with increased comments about moisturizing and sanitizing product values, an increasing trend, particularly in facial and skin care beauty products, is the reference to vitamins. Thousands of product reviews have referred to vitamins in Q1 2020 (vs. Q1 2019), particularly vitamin C and B3. Moving forward, I’d expect to see an increased focus on vitamins in other beauty products, as well as seeing more and different references to vitamins.

Prepare for the post-DIY beauty world

With COVID-19 forcing many to stay away from hair and beauty salons, we entered a DIY beauty world with countless people coloring and cutting their own hair for the first time as well as other DIY beauty treatments. From reading online reviews, the results weren’t all that bad, with many realizing that they have the skills and experience to take care of more of their beauty needs. Though people will undoubtedly return to hair and beauty salons, if nothing else, for the feeling of getting pampered, the routine will change. People will think twice before spending an exorbitant sum on health and beauty treatments, particularly if they were satisfied with their DIY beauty treatments while in lockdown. So, as noted above, performance and price/value for money will be important.

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For direct-to-consumer beauty brands, this will be an opportunity. Brands with favorable reviews and ratings during COVID-19 will be able to build on the brand allegiance and grow their business. By providing one-on-one video consultations as well as more “how-to” product videos on their websites, apps, and across social media, direct-to-consumer beauty brands will be able to grow their business as consumers older than 25 turn to the internet for beauty content.

As online beauty brands prepare for post-COVID-19 marketing, when they’ll face more competition from physical stores, it’s essential to keep these lessons in mind when preparing for summer 2020 and beyond.

Revuze provides an artificial intelligence-driven software as a service platform for analyzing customer opinions. 

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