We asked 340 US consumers - "Are you buying makeup online?"

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Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon have all proven themselves as leaders in the cosmetics and personal care space. Amazon for one, grew it’s beauty sales to $950 million in Q2 2018, a year-on-year increase of over 25%. As beauty products are becoming increasingly available online, we wanted to learn more about the changing landscape for cosmetics and asked 340 US consumers about their makeup shopping behavior and preferences towards beauty brands.


The majority of consumers (66 percent) have purchased makeup online in the past. However, most (67 percent) still prefer to buy their cosmetics in-store. For the consumers who do buy their makeup online, the most appealing features for doing so are free and fast shipping. The least important features for consumers buying makeup online are product subscription options and virtual ‘try-on’ tools, indicating that these tools just aren’t sophisticated enough to replicate the experience of trying products on your own.


Makeup retailers remain the number one destination for buying products in-store. Over 35 percent of consumers who prefer buying makeup in-store do so most often at Sephora or Ulta. Twenty-six percent buy their makeup most often at a super center (think Walmart or Target) followed by 11 percent who make most of their cosmetics purchases at a drugstore. Surprisingly, one of the least-popular ways for a consumer to buy cosmetics is directly from a brand's physical store (5 percent).


Beyond purchasing behavior, we also wanted to understand how consumers are learning about new makeup products. Forty-three percent of consumers report discovering new makeup through in-store displayers, while 41 percent use social media.


Eighty-eight percent of Gen Z shoppers who use social media to discover new products do so on Instagram. Compare this to 60 percent who use YouTube and only 40 percent who use Facebook. This tells us that while most consumers are still going into stores to buy their makeup, the majority are also using online outlets for initial discovery and research, making the in-store purchase the final stop on their journey.


P.S. Consumers who use social media to discover and learn more about makeup products spend significantly more money on cosmetics each month than those who don’t. Forty-seven percent of these shoppers spend between $25-$100 a month on new makeup versus just 26 percent who don’t use social media for product discovery.


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