eCommerce Cosmetics Trends: A thorough analysis

Anna Raventós


Do you work in the cosmetics industry? Are you already present online or thinking of taking the leap? Either way, we’re going to take a deep dive into how European women’s eCommerce cosmetics trends in 2019.

Hold on to your seats because it’s going to be a mind-blowing journey!

We partnered with Photoslurp (a marketing and visual eCommerce platform) to get essential insights on the cosmetics eCommerce industry.


Zinklar and Photoslurp

Zinklar and Photoslurp conducted a joint study and created a Trend Report to fill this knowledge gap, asking 1,500 women aged 18 years and older from 5 different European countries (UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy). The research was conducted through the Zinklar SaaS platform on a 5-minute mobile-only questionnaire asking consumers about their cosmetics usage, preference and purchasing habits when shopping online.

One of the biggest hurdles for cosmetics brands to tackle is selling their products online without giving consumers a chance to try them first. Even more so taking into account that a single cosmetic product won’t do for just anyone: skin and hair type, skin sensitivity, health, and so many more variables are part of the equation.

Thus, the challenge for cosmetic brands is finding the best way to sell their products on the internet, without the ability to get customers’ hands on them before purchase (like they would in a shop).

Digital presentations, customer reviews, influencer demonstrations… these are all new ways to close the gap with consumers that have sprung up over the past years but brands still aren’t completely sure as to what the best tools are to inspire online shoppers on the hunt for cosmetics.

That’s where Zinklar and Agile Market Research make their appearance! Research helps us understand what motivates, inspires and encourages consumers to purchase cosmetics online and answers the question: ‘how can cosmetic brands optimise their online shopping journey to fit the needs of their customers?’

eCommerce Cosmetics Industry Challenges
  • Convincing consumers to keep coming back to their brand, as cosmetics products are generally purchased on a rolling basis and not daily or weekly.
  • Competing within a congested market, where consumers can quickly swap between products and brands.
  • Showing consumers how well their products work without being able to test them for themselves.
  • Teaching consumers how to use their products to demonstrate effectiveness and get them to come back.
  • Inspiring consumers enough to make the brand a part of their lives.

So… do you want to know how to overcome these challenges? Let’s get right to it.


Purchase Habits

  • 74% of respondents have purchased cosmetics online over the past 12 months
  • Women between 16 and 24 years old from France and the UK are the top online cosmetics consumers (94% and 92% respectively)
  • The usual purchase frequency of online cosmetics is once or twice a year, followed by every few months. Top purchasers are once again France, the UK and Italy
  • Approximately 33% of UK women shop online for cosmetics mostly every few months
  • What we can take away from this information is that consumers are constantly looking to expand their cosmetics collection on a rolling basis but with less frequency than everyday products. Also, younger consumers are more likely to buy very often but the products they buy are less expensive.
Where do consumers purchase cosmetics online?
  • Women tend to buy more from big retailing websites with various cosmetics options compared to individual brand websites
  • Amazon is the most popular online space to shop for cosmetics products online (42% of consumers in Italy and 26% in Spain)
  • Sephora is another top 3 choice for consumers, placing second on the podium in France (26% of consumers prefer it)

Each country has specific stores that consumers go to, mostly retailers exclusive to the country’s market, like Maquillalia in Spain or Yves Rocher in France.


What exactly do we buy?

Now we know how often consumers purchase cosmetics online and where but… what exactly do they buy?

The most sold online cosmetics products are lipsticks (59% of respondents) and face masks (57% of respondents) and product features that greatly influence consumers’ decision to buy them are ‘aptness for sensitive skin’ and ‘cruelty-free’ (no animal testing).

The time has come to see what exactly inspires consumers when purchasing cosmetics online.

Consumers in all countries tend to place more importance on the purchasing conditions rather than the website features when it comes to having a good experience.

  • The top features valued by respondents are free delivery/shipping and discount & promotions.
  • The highest scoring website features in all countries are User Generated Content (UGC) & Star Ratings.

Everybody loves a discount! That’s why we see discounts & promotions as the top purchasing condition to have in the shopping journey, followed closely by free delivery. UGC and star rating increase consumers’ trust in the product and website, making them a sure bet to include.

UGC is a tool for eCommerce brands that helps overcome the challenges that come up when selling cosmetics online by making purchase decisions easier and breaking down barriers for consumers.

Customer photos and photos of the product being used in real-life situations are the most valued, with 68% of consumers searching for them on social media before making a purchase.

With this in mind, eCommerce brands should focus on creating UGC, collecting it and using it in their online stores as visual reviews and product inspiration. This will show consumers how well products work, teach them how to use them and inspire them to come back to the brand.

Customer reviews are a great example of essential content that every online cosmetics brand should have on their website in order to build trust with consumers. Most respondents confirm that they read them before making a purchase, with only 17% answering that they don’t consider reviews important.

And what about customer service and contact functions? How much do consumers value customer support when shopping online? The answer is: a lot. Especially ‘instant’ responses, which are becoming more prevalent through the use of online/live chat (52% of respondents).



Recommendations based on the insights we obtained from the study
  • Develop your online strategy around the cosmetics sales cycle. Consumers tend to buy cosmetics monthly rather than daily or weekly, so make sure you establish a series of touchpoints to hold their attention until the next month comes around.
  • The retailer potential. Like them or not, they are stealing the eCommerce spotlight so make sure your products are available through online retailers.
  • Turn to your consumers to sell your products (customer reviews and User Generated Content). People trust people, not companies. Make sure to include reviews of real customers that have purchased your products, and any additional UGC like photos or product unboxings, otherwise your brand may be seen as untrustworthy.
  • Share your brand’s ethics policy with customers. If you are proud of your brand’s philosophy and create cruelty-free, recyclable products, make sure consumers know about it. Our society is more concerned about issues related to the environment and their own personal impact than ever before.
  • Adopt instant online communication. Incorporate a chat feature into your eCommerce shop to show customers that you care about them and want to solve their problems as soon as possible.

Now it’s up to you to apply these strategies and insights to your business and make a change for the better. What are you waiting for?


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