How blemished are beauty retailers by COVID-19?
Beauty sellers are facing a double-whammy from COVID-19. Make-up has become unsafe to try on in stores and less necessary as many women shelter at home.
A survey of more than 5,100 women over the age of 13 from the Influenster product review platform in May underscored both risks to beauty sellers’ businesses. It found that if the retailers were to stop in-store sampling, 30 percent of consumers would no longer see a need to purchase beauty products in-store.
Sephora, Ulta and other beauty sellers have all paused in-store sampling and the practice may be long in returning given the risks of bacterial or viral infections from shared samples. A host of virtual alternative options, some employing augmented reality and facial recognition, offer hope of adoption by consumers.
Usage of Ulta’s GLAMLab online try-on feature has increased five times during the pandemic. Ulta is also working with brands to bring safer sampling to stores. Mary Dillon, Ulta’s CEO, said at an Oppenheimer investor conference in mid-June of the reimagined store experience, “It’s just going to look a little different, but we’re going to do our level best to make sure that it’s fun and innovative and relevant.”
From a demand standpoint, the Influenster survey found 47 percent of respondents wearing less makeup, 22 percent wearing about the same and 21 wearing no makeup during “stay at home.”
Among those not wearing makeup, 31 percent said they didn’t see the point as they’re not seeing anyone and 29 percent said they would like to take the opportunity to let their skin breathe.
An Advertising Age article also noted that lipstick isn’t necessary and rubs off when wearing a mask, although some women are pivoting to eye products like mascara.
On Ulta’s first-quarter conference call, Ms. Dillon said that, while social distancing and masks are causing disruption, women have a “deep emotional connection” to beauty and will return. “Routines will continue to shift and evolve, but beauty is a platform for self-expression, togetherness, joy and self-care, all of which are even more important for beauty enthusiasts during this time of uncertainty and change,” she said.
- How the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting beauty routines – Bazaarvoice
- No testers, no problem: Ulta and Sephora have a new take on ‘try before you buy’ – CNN
- Face Masks Are Suffocating Sales Of Lip Products, Forcing Brands To Refocus – Advertising Age
- Cosmetics Retailer Ulta Beauty on How It’s Adapted to the Pandemic – Adweek
- Ulta Beauty, Inc. (ULTA) Presents at Oppenheimer Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Broke Conference Call – Seeking Alpha
- Cosmetics Business reveals 5 key insights in new Covid-19 strategy report – Cosmetics Business
- Ulta Beauty, Inc. (ULTA) Presents at Oppenheimer Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Broke Conference Call – The Motley Fool
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are the difficulties of in-store trial or shifts in product demand likely a bigger challenge for beauty sellers? What adjustments may be required for the beauty category?