With the world still adjusting to the grip of an ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 had certainly shaped up very differently to planned, for industry and consumers alike. Worldwide lockdowns, business closures and social distancing had shifted consumer priorities and shopping behaviours, placing significant importance on digital. And the upcoming Christmas holiday season – one of the most important periods in the beauty calendar – was also set to see online soar.
Beauty shift online ‘hard to ignore’
In a recent study conducted across Bazaarvoice’s network of 6,000+ brand and retailer sites, findings showed industry was bracing for an online surge this Christmas, with 85% believing e-commerce sales would increase over the holiday season and 61% expecting higher engagement and purchasing through social media channels. As a result, more than half were investing more in e-commerce upgrades in preparation.
“Brands and retailers across health and beauty are already bracing for a Christmas unlike any we’ve seen before,” said Suzin Wold, senior VP of marketing at Bazaarvoice.
“…Having a strong and seamless online strategy is going to be critical. The shift to online is hard to ignore, and this will be where Christmas shopping is going to be taking place – more than ever before,” Wold told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Smart digital experiences – ‘the sooner the better’
And because this was very different from previous years for many consumers, Wold said transferring more traditional in-store experiences online would be “key” to success. And user-generated content (UGC) was a “fundamental” part of this, she said, ensuring consumers could “envision and experience products in a way similar to how they once could in a store”.
Many brands and retailers already understood the importance of UGC in beauty, with 47% stating it had become even more important to business amid COVID-19, according to survey findings. And Wold said there were plenty of reasons why UGC had, indeed, gained importance, from budget cuts to restrictions on usual resources like professional photographers and videographers.
“Due to COVID-19, brands should lean on user-generated content within their marketing and across product pages,” she said.
So, when should brands and retailers started rolling out these online and UGC strategies? “The sooner the better,” Wold said.
The end of summer and beginning of autumn was typically the time any retail business started planning for Christmas, she said, and UGC engagement tended to peak in September ahead of the ‘golden quarter’. But this year, she said the beauty industry would have to start preparing “earlier than ever before”.
“…The pandemic has heightened the pressure to prepare, as not only do brands and retailers need to consider their most effective strategies, but they also need to think practically about managing in-store traffic and ensuring that increased online demand is fulfilled successfully.”
Christmas still set to be ‘golden’ for beauty?
With all this in mind, Wold said the beauty and personal care category was still in for a good 2020 Christmas period.
“There is a strong reason to believe that sector will have a successful Christmas period based on the predicted surge in consumer confidence, coupled with health and beauty year-over-year increases in online orders seen during lockdown.”
The health and beauty category, she said, had remained “incredibly popular” during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as many consumers looked to occupy themselves with self-care routines and keep up appearances without regular professional appointments.
And recent data from marketing firm Rakuten Advertising echoed this – showing 87% of global consumers planned to shop this Christmas, despite 40% citing a decrease in household income due to COVID-19.