According to a recent report by NPD Group, the UK prestige beauty market has seen a significant increase in online sales, particularly in the skincare category. From January to October, online sales in the prestige beauty market, which includes skincare, body care, make-up, fragrance, and men’s grooming, reached £491 million, marking a YoY growth of 38%. This surge in online sales means that e-commerce now accounts for 41% of total prestige beauty sales, up from 21% the previous year, as physical store sales were heavily impacted by lockdown measures.

During the lockdown, many beauty brands and online retailers quickly adapted to the changing retail environment by offering attractive incentives to customers. These incentives included free delivery, gifts with purchase, price promotions, online tutorials, and virtual try-on technology. These measures played a crucial role in sustaining the overall prestige beauty sector. While some physical stores selling beauty products were allowed to remain open, they mainly focused on cheaper and own-label brands. Pharmacies, which typically carry upscale lines, shifted their focus towards health products. Department stores and specialized beauty chains were forced to temporarily close.

In the absence of physical stores, webstores quickly filled the gap and became the primary source for beauty product purchases. However, consumer buying habits underwent a shift during this period, with people primarily purchasing products that aligned with their stay-at-home circumstances. NPD’s report highlights that skincare sales experienced the most significant growth in the prestige beauty market. Skincare sales increased by 54% during the reporting period, with face creams showing a 67% increase, face cleansers at 66%, and serums at 32%. Sets and kits also contributed significantly to the growth of online skincare sales, with a 57% increase. Consumers were more focused on achieving healthy skin and indulging in self-pampering, rather than buying color cosmetics.

Overall, the online prestige beauty market has experienced a substantial boost in sales, becoming a major contributor to the industry. As consumers continue to prioritize online shopping and take care of their skin at home, this trend is expected to continue in the future.

Useful links:
1. NPD Group
2. Vogue Business