Holiday Beauty Retail Trends 2018

Officially kicking off with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday and continuing through to the end of December, the end of year holiday season is critical for both bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers and brands. Beauty and personal care is one category where shoppers both look to purchase products for themselves as well as gifts for others at this time of year. Cyber Monday strategies for retailers and beauty brands illustrate some of the broader trends in beauty retail this holiday season.

Beauty Promotions for Retailers

Cyber Monday promotions from multi-brand retailers generally centered around flat discounts, promoting exclusive products, particularly sets and kits, and free gifts and samples. Sephora, for example, offered up to 50% off select products and two free samples with any purchase.  Sephora also promoted limited edition exclusive products, like its multibrand Give Me More Lip kit in which Sephora packaged 14 popular lip products together. Macys’ Cyber Monday promotions included special deals for Estee Lauder products, showing how brands and retailers can collaborate for holiday events.  Specific offers included 50% of select Estee Lauder products and promoting exclusive products such as M.A.C.’s Created for Macy’s Shiny Pretty Things Sweet Scrub Set (M.A.C. is owned by the Estee Lauder Company).  Across all retailers, Victoria’s Secret, Kiehl’s, and MAC beauty and personal care products showed some of the largest median price declines between October 25 and Cyber Monday.

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Cyber Monday for Digitally Native Brands

Digitally native beauty brands were also very active on Cyber Monday, even amongst brands that rarely discount throughout the rest of the year.  True Botanicals had one of the most generous discounts, offering 20% off all products and an additional $10 credit towards a future purchase on each $50 spent.  Function of Beauty featured a discount code giving 20% off gifts and hair care subscriptions.

Many digitally native brands that also sell through retailers, such as Amazon, segmented strategies across platforms. Kylie Cosmetics offered a flat 30% off all products and free shipping over $40 on Cyber Monday on the Kylie Cosmetics website.  In contrast to this discount, many Kylie products available on Amazon saw prices increase in the weeks leading up to Cyber Monday exclusive of any coupon codes.  Drunk Elephant was a more passive participant in Cyber Monday; the company’s main Cyber Monday promotion on its own site was free standard shipping on all orders.  This strategy was likely geared towards enticing first-time consumers to try the brand. Drunk Elephant products on Amazon, such as Drunk Elephant’s B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel, did see flat discounts of nearly 15% compared to a month before Cyber Monday.

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The Rest of the Holiday Shopping Season

According to the National Retail Federation’s December Consumer Holiday Survey from 2017, less than 40% of shoppers plan to purchase their last gift before December 18.  Consumers, in general, have benefited from retailer efforts over the last two years to make it possible for them to show when and how they want, which combined with an unusually long holiday shopping season will result in shoppers procrastinating their purchases throughout December. Even as retailers launch pre-Black Friday sales throughout November, shoppers will continue to look for sales both for gift giving and for purchasing items for themselves through the end of December, meaning plenty of opportunity remains for retailers and beauty brands in the weeks ahead.

*Note: Pricing data reflects listed prices from over 100 US-based online retailers, exclusive of discount codes and rebates. 

To learn more about the most critical window of the year for retailers download our Holiday Shopping Trends report.