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Why natural cosmetics companies are increasingly turning to online retailing

by Susanne Gschwind (comments: 0)

A smartphone next to small cosmetic bottles.
In the case of cosmetic products in particular, the trend is increasingly toward new sales models à la "business to consumer. Online trade via social media and web stores plays a central role here. © iStock / Sitthiphong

What trends and products are in vogue around the world? What changes has Corona brought? What new distribution concepts are trending? Cosmetics blogger Julia Keith provides answers to these and other questions in the recording of her Vivaness event "Beauty Briefing 2021" (the video of the event is available here, please click to approx. 02:34:20 in the timeline).

Established trends such as "solid products", the topic of "refill", Korean beauty products, pre- and probiotic cosmetics as well as CBD/hemp were deliberately left out of the blogger's presentation at Vivaness.

Instead, she turned her gaze to the future. Before that, however, she looked at the past year: "Hand disinfection and soaps were the most sought-after beauty products during Corona," says Keith. In addition, brand new products such as Primavera's mask spray and Mádara's Nasolabial Protection Cream were launched.

No "lipstick effect“

So while products from the so-called "safe beauty" sector (see below) did very well last year, the classic "lipstick effect" failed to materialize: Normally, women put make-up on their lips even when money is tight and the mood is one of crisis.

"Safe Beauty" is not a firmly defined or protected term. When safe-beauty products are mentioned, they generally do not contain toxic ingredients and are packaged in such a way that the contents are well protected from environmental influences. In a narrower sense, safe-beauty primarily means products that protect skin and people, such as soap, hand disinfection or antiviral essential oils in the form of mask sprays or similar.

Because everyone wears masks and goes out less, this was not and is not the case in the pandemic. However, there has been a significant increase in the amount of time people spend in the bathroom, which can also be seen, for example, in the sales figures for bath additives.

New digital sales models

The pandemic has also changed the way products are presented and sold. As an example, Keith cites an Instagram Live of the Amazingy brand, in which a store employee and a founder of a natural cosmetics brand talk about the products. "Here, a very unique authenticity is brought across and not only products are sold, but also good entertainment is offered," says Keith. Retailtainment is the buzzword here, she says - "a bit like shopping TV for the younger generation."

For Keith, Corona is an accelerator of existing trends, also in sales. Social media has opened up new distribution channels for companies, especially in the past year. Similar to Amazingy, the companies Hello Body and Jungglück no longer use social networks only for advertising, but have focused the entire distribution of their products on the platforms Instagram, Facebook and, in some cases, Tik Tok. Stationary retail plays no role for these brands.

The difference between the two strategies: Hello Body adapts the content according to the respective platforms. Jungglück, on the other hand, also uses Facebook in addition to Instagram, but the posts are tailored to the former network and are shared in the same form with the partner company Facebook. To promote the products, both brands work a lot with influencers.

One example of new sales channels is Beauty Pie, a subscription model from a successful start-up in the USA, in which customers receive all products 80 per cent cheaper for a monthly fee. Another subscription model called "Ieva" offers a "Netflix of cosmetics," so to speak, in which customers also receive products tailored to their own needs for a monthly contribution.

How inclusive is natural cosmetics?

Julia Keith is convinced that the Black Lives Matter movement also has an impact on the cosmetics industry, which has long been very exclusive. But even for natural cosmetics, she says, the question is how inclusive it actually is. "I can't see that there is a huge boom in black-owned beauty brands here in Germany," Keith says.

She therefore encourages us to think about customer groups that we may not have paid much attention to so far. The topics of "anti-anti-aging" and "menopause" could and should be given much more attention. In general, the huge target group of "boomers" deserves much more attention.

Customers ask differently and specifically

In the future, retailers will have to be prepared for customers to ask more specific questions because they are much more informed, especially thanks to the Internet. "They no longer ask: Is this cream suitable for my combination skin, but which vitamin C is actually stable?" explains Keith. In general, active ingredients play an increasingly important role. The blogger therefore pleads for more scientific communication - and for the research and development department and marketing to work more closely together in the companies.

Movement in sustainability and raw materials

Natural cosmetics continue to be a growth driver in the cosmetics industry. But the topic is of course also being taken up by conventional companies. Dove, for example, offers a certified line, Beiersdorf has Nivea refill stations in selected drugstores, and even solid, waterless products are being taken up and further developed by large conventional groups. There is a lot of movement in the market, especially internationally.

Another major future topic for Julia Keith is biotechnological raw materials. Because meat alternatives are often produced in the laboratory, "labcreated" raw materials for natural cosmetics, such as collagen, are becoming more and more accepted, "precisely because it has been seen that it is resource-saving to produce some things in the laboratory," says Keith. It's important to keep on trying, she says: "On how natural cosmetics will be viewed in the future, you have to keep putting it to the test to stay with it."



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