“Consumer education is essential in translating salon-quality products to the consumer for do-it-yourself application,” Hirsch says. “We are adding ‘tele-beauty’ options that include things like professional video color consultations and how-to videos from our in-house world-renowned colorists.”
The Self-Care Beauty Shopper
“Today, beauty is a critical link to acts of self-care and wellness,” asserted Mary Dillon, CEO of Bolingbrooke, Ill.-based Ulta Beauty, in a December 2020 call with analysts.
Hunkered down in their homes and feeling the anxiety caused by the pandemic, consumers have been purchasing health and beauty products to relieve stress. Sales of sleeping remedies (27.9%), vitamins (18.2%), body scrubs (6.8%), bath products (8.3%) and soap (41.8%) have all grown over the past year, according to IRI.
So have sales of candles, home scents and massaging appliances, according to the NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y.
“Massaging appliances can solve a variety of consumer wellness needs that have escalated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Joe Derochowski, NPD’s home industry adviser. “Whether it is to relieve stress, soothe a sore back from a makeshift home workspace, or just find some much-needed relaxation, these products fit into the consumer’s broader quest for comfort during challenging times.”
In addition to massaging appliances, both candles and home fragrance have seen double-digit dollar gains, as have body-exfoliating skin care products.
“Through products such as body care and home scents, consumers are creating a spa-like environment at home and finding new outlets to de-stress and capture a sense of normalcy and balance,” says Larissa Jensen, NPD’s beauty industry adviser.
This past December, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Unilever partnered with Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart to develop and launch Find Your Happy Place, an exclusive line of candles and body care products. The goal: to create value-priced aromatherapy products sold in stores and online.
The In-Store Beauty Shopper
Despite strong growth in online sales, most beauty shoppers still want to shop in-store. When Ulta reported third-quarter results in December, Dillon said that the company’s priority is to reimagine how the physical store shopper experiences and discovers beauty in “the new normal.”
“Product discovery is a hallmark of the beauty shopping experience, and we’re welcoming more guests to experience the fun of GLAMlab, our virtual try-on tool,” she noted. “Our store associates have done a great job introducing GLAMlab to guests as a safe alternative to testers in stores, which are currently for display purposes only. To help facilitate even more in-store engagement, we’ve introduced new QR codes on select shelf strips that take guests directly into the GLAMlab experience, making it even easier for guests to virtually try on products while they’re in stores.”
This beauty shopper still really wants the in-store shopping experience, but now the rules of the game have changed. A great in-store beauty experience is no longer about fancy lighting and lots of testers. For food retailers, the way to win this shopper now is via a safe physical store experience aided by virtual tools, as Ulta has done; using signage promoting sanitation protocols; and providing plenty of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.
The Inclusivity Beauty Shopper
With the United States on its way to becoming a multicultural majority country by 2044, multicultural beauty shoppers are naturally a major force driving U.S. beauty sales. These consumers are looking for value-driven products that they can relate to not only in terms of individual personalities and lifestyles, but also in terms of gender fluidity, disability and agelessness. That means fine-tuning messaging and merchandising to the diversity of today’s beauty consumer, whether it’s merchandising Black-owned skin care, or brands that cater to disability-focused beauty.
Some grocery retailers are working with suppliers to attract the inclusivity shopper. This past November, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer hosted its first virtual Supplier Diversity Summit, giving diverse-owned businesses an opportunity to showcase their offerings for Meijer merchants. Certified minority-, LGBTQ-, woman-, veteran- and disability-owned businesses in the beauty and personal care categories were invited to attend.
“At Meijer, we believe our partners should reflect the communities we serve,” explains Jamie Akemann, the company’s group VP of indirect procurement and supplier diversity. “This event gives us the opportunity to partner with diverse suppliers to empower them and provide economic support that will be felt throughout our communities, allowing us to better embody our mission of enriching lives in the communities we serve.”
The window of opportunity for grocery players to grab market share in the lucrative beauty category is wide open in 2021. First, however, food retailers must understand the six new types of beauty shoppers, and connect with them.