Inflation has forced beauty consumers across the globe to cut their spending on non-essential items and Nielsen IQ’s data revealed that the French are no exception – as 45% said they planned to spend less on beauty products this year.
A huge 84% of those surveyed believed that prices had risen in the beauty category over the last six months, and 24% thought the increases for beauty products were greater than for other categories, such as grocery and household.
As a result, 44% said they would just make do with their current products, 36% said they would reduce the buying cycle, 27% they would cut the number of products in their regime and 41% said they would buy cheaper products to cut back their beauty expenditure.
According to Nielsen IQ France, consumers who are feeling the effects of price rises are looking for cheaper products, value savings and easy-to-spot offers. But even for those consumers who are who are still prepared to spend more, brands will need to understand the purchase drivers across all channels, reward loyalty and stay front-of-mind.
"There's an opportunity here for manufacturers and retailers to rethink the way they communicate about promotions – but also innovation – in order to highlight the price benefit for shoppers," said Nicolas Léger, analytical director at NielsenIQ.
“Increasing purchase frequency and staying 'top of mind' will be key to building loyalty and generating impulse buying among these buyers,” he shared.
Hair care and skin care are still a priority
Hair care was highest on the agenda of French beauty shoppers – with 84% saying they would continue to buy in this category. These consumers were most likely to buy shampoo and conditioner.
Unsurprisingly, skin care also fared well – 73% of French beauty consumers said they would still buy products in this category. The top products of choice were moisturiser and cleansing wash.
Cutbacks were most likely to be in the colour cosmetics and nail categories – just 55% said they would still buy new makeup and only 45% said they would still buy new nail products.
These findings come in advance of the passing of the ‘Descrozaille law’ on trade negotiations in France, which is set to come into effect on 1st March 2024.
The bill, which was approved by the French National Assembly in March 2023, aimed to limit discounts on beauty, cleaning and paper products to 34%. When it takes effect next year it is likely to cause a huge loss of revenue for the industry.
E-commerce is winning more beauty shoppers
Another notable pattern among French beauty consumers is that they are turning to e-commerce channels to make purchases. The Top 5 beauty online marketplaces in France are: 1) Amazon, 2) Sephora, 3) Nocibé, 4) E. Leclerc, 5) Marionnaud Paris.
Specialised beauty e-tailers take a 41% market share, while generalist pure players take 24%.
“The online beauty sector is now a must for consumers,” said Claire Marty, VP Beauty Vertical. “The boundary between digital channels and physical stores is increasingly fine. We discover a product or routine online, test it in store and buy it online, and vice versa!”
And Marty’s advice to manufacturers and retailers? “Understand these dynamics and use both online and offline levers to succeed."
Pure player generalist Amazon deserves a special mention as it has seen the biggest growth among French online beauty retailers over the past 12 months. Although Veepee comes in second, it holds just 1.7% share of total beauty compared to Amazon’s 17.6% share.
However, it’s worth noting that the average beauty order size at Amazon is significantly lower than with competitors (€18.20 versus €43.04 – the average for the top 10 beauty retailers). In fact, 87% of sales come from Prime members, who are likely to value speed of delivery.
Nielsen IQ also shared that purchase frequency among Amazon shoppers grew by 17% and in the last 12 months the e-tail giant increased its household penetration from 28.5% to 34.6% – nearly double of what it was two years ago.