US consumers are increasingly becoming dependent on digital assistance in nearly all aspects of the beauty retailing experience. According to Mintel, two in five (39 percent) consumers are interested in using, or have used, a store-provided tablet to research beauty products available. What’s more, one third (36 per cent) agree that they would be interested in using in-store tablets or their own mobile device to pay for beauty products.

According to Mintel, 45 per cent of beauty consumers prefer to search for...

According to Mintel, 45 per cent of beauty consumers prefer to search for product information in-store on their mobile device rather than ask for assistance from a sales associate. Photo: Syda Productions /

Smartphones and tablets are playing an increasingly pivotal role in the beauty retail experience. Brands should assume that their audience has a connected device at their fingertips at all times and should look to leverage behavioural research in order to better understand when and how consumers are using these devices,” says Diana Smith, Senior Research Analyst, Retail & Apparel at Mintel. “The beauty category is ripe for an explosion of technology-driven innovation. A great example of this is connected stores which allow consumers to shop how they choose while giving them unique ways to try out products on their own before buying, regardless of a salesperson’s availability.

Cost-saving tools

According to the market research firm, consumers are turning to technology as a cost-saving measure as well, with three in five (58 per cent) interested in mobile apps that provide beauty product offers to redeem in-store. Coupon redemption is popular among beauty retail shoppers as nearly half (47 per cent) have redeemed coupons using their smartphone or tablet when purchasing products in-store or online. Further, 54 per cent of beauty retail shoppers are interested in apps that allow them to compare prices.

Heavy buyers are key influencers

The beauty market’s heaviest buyers, those who made 11 or more purchases in the 12 months ending October 2015, are the most likely to engage on social media with seven in 10 (69 per cent) saying they like to share their product experience on retailers’ social media channels, double that of consumers overall (35 per cent). What’s more, 71 per cent say social media posts encourage them to buy particular products.

Mintel research reveals that the majority of beauty retail purchases are, in fact, planned with three in five (63 per cent) consumers buying items to replace/replenish products they regularly use. Planned experimentation with new beauty products is not uncommon as 30 per cent of consumers venture out with the intent of trying something new. However, spontaneity is also popular among beauty retail shoppers: half (52 per cent) are influenced to make a purchase that is most likely unplanned, with one in five (22 per cent) influenced by a sale or the opportunity to use a coupon. Another 14 per cent of beauty retail shoppers report unplanned purchases resulting from advertisements.

The beauty category’s heaviest purchasers not only turn to the internet and, more specifically social media, for inspiration, but they also are influential to others given their increased interest and knowledge of beauty items and brands. Brands should look to capitalize on these influential consumer advocates by giving them a voice and providing rewards for their endorsements. Taking into consideration the fact that many consumers plan their beauty purchases - whether to replace regularly used items or experiment with new ones - positive feedback from heavy users on social platforms could encourage potential buyers to move forward with a purchase,” concludes Smith.