Is the Demise of the Direct Beauty Selling Model Upon Us?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

The future of consumer spending, decision-making and experiential shopping may well be impacting the desire for new and novel engagement and selling techniques.
The future of consumer spending, decision-making and experiential shopping may well be impacting the desire for new and novel engagement and selling techniques.
The future of consumer spending, decision-making and experiential shopping may well be impacting the desire for new and novel engagement and selling techniques.

Consumer hunger for experience-led, convenient and user-first shopping, coupled with a potential shift in the direct selling model, are set to have a transformative influence on the beauty and personal care sales route.

Direct selling acquisition

Natura&Co snapped up Avon in an acquisition in May 2019 that saw two big name traditional direct sellers collaborate. However, in Europe, the UK is at the centre of industry insights, and beauty purchasing patterns that are calling out for a change.

In a recent article by market intelligence provider, Euromonitor International​, it becomes clear that while these household names are seeking to strengthen customer loyalty and advocacy through fresh ideas and innovative actions, the direct selling model, which contributed to the appeal of the two teaming up, may well be in need of an upgrade.

With the market share of direct selling in the beauty sphere diminishing by 7.5% over the past six years, and with Avon’s market position in the UK reducing from 2.1% to 1.3%, the direct selling model is looking like a channel strategy of old.

Both Natura&Co and Avon are in the top 15 beauty and personal care companies in the UK. Yet, as online sales have grown by 5.5% and beauty specialist retailers by 2% since 2013 — during the same period that direct selling saw a drop — we may now be entering a new shopping era, where omnichannel strategy is no longer advised, but necessary.

Is Amazon leading the change?

Natura&Co has already entered into this new phase by accessing curated digital platforms and utilising the presence and reach of Amazon by acting as a third-party seller. The company’s Natura Ekos products are sold on the e-commerce platform by Natura&Co and are fulfilled by Amazon — a relationship and method that could prove increasingly popular.

The idea that brands incorporate a centralised Amazon strategy may well be on the top of the e-commerce giant’s wish list, in fact. In March, Amazon tipped its third-party Marketplace as a possible complete replacement for the company’s product selling position. Removed from Amazon’s list of vendors, these brands were then directed over to Marketplace​.

A standard move as part of its review process or a more sophisticated strategic play to shift away from direct selling? The jury is still out, but what we do know is that while updates indicated the vendor removal was more down to an administrative mistake, Amazon aims to maximise its vendors’ presence on Marketplace by boosting the platform’s presence and capabilities to consumers.

What about our other beauty needs?

In the UK in particular, the experience economy is hugely influencing consumer behaviour. As is consumer demand to be more ethically conscious and eco-friendly, which sits amid the rising health and wellness sphere, reveals intelligence provider Mintel’s. British Lifestyles Report​.

Only time will tell if the direct selling model will experience a revival through revitalisation. However, as Mintel’s findings show that beauty consumers are the UK’s “most ethical shoppers”​, the emphasis now will be on omnichannel strategies, content marketing plans and third-party retailers to clearly communicate raw materials, ingredients and supply chains.

By doing so, consumers will get the best of both worlds: Assurance and accurate information that leads to ethical product purchases and an on-the-go, engaging buying process.

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