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6 Beauty Ecommerce Trends For 2021 & What To Know

How do you navigate a world dominated by touch and feel when the last thing anyone wants to do is exactly that? As the global climate shifted to an entirely new normal in the beginning of 2020, every industry was forced to adapt, but this was the beauty ecommerce industry's time. 

The world of beauty is top of mind for many, as we spend the bulk of our 9-5's on Zoom with “Touch Up My Appearance” turned on and our evenings have a soundtrack of TikTok tutorials and filtered selfies. If you're wondering what 2021 will bring in terms of beauty ecommerce trends, sit down, grab your mirror, and let's dig in.

Here are 6 beauty ecommerce trends to be aware of in 2021:

1. Consumers Are Interested In Clean, Ethical Products

If clean beauty products were a nice-to-have previously, they're now a must-have. Though the term has been diluted in definition as every leading cosmetics brand uses the buzzword in their marketing campaigns, it's become increasingly crucial for any cosmetic company or beauty retailer to clean up their ingredient lists. Note that this is more of a US-centric problem, as the FDA bans 11 ingredients while the EU bans 1,328

Consumers are educating themselves and asking for nothing less than non-toxic, and this applies to established beauty brands such as Estée Lauder or Sephora just as much as newcomers on the scene. 2021 will see those fresh brands loudly proclaiming their non-toxic ingredients in their products, proving that they're coming clean and have nothing to hide. 

This applies just as much to the formulas themselves as the people running the brands: ethically conscious business practices are also a must, and should be expected to be examined through a magnifying glass.

2. Increased Focused On Diversity And Inclusion

There's no more room for exclusivity. As brands like Fenty Beauty, Illamasqua, and Black Opal Beauty float to the top of the beauty market, and mainstays like Too Faced, Milk, and Make Up For Ever keep up with demand, the standards for shade ranges are going up. 

If a brand wants to reach all demographics, they need to create collections where anyone and everyone can find themselves in their product lines. Illamasqua's tagline explicitly celebrates “express your true self” as they "redefine beauty." I think they're doing something right: their profits rose to their highest yet of $50M in 2020. 

For example, Fenty Beauty offers one of the widest shade ranges for foundation on the market with 50 shades. It’s paid off — the line continuously sells out. Several other brands offer large varieties of shades as well, including Jouer Cosmetics, Il Makiage, and more. 

Kimberly Smith, co-founder of the Brown Beauty Co-Op, points out that it’s not just about shades:

As a person of color, you can still see a brand have about 50 shades and not take into account the different undertones and all the different things. It’s not just about the shade itself or the complexion color, it’s really a little bit more than that.

Kimberly Smith

3. Personalization And Customization Are As Popular As Ever

Even though no one can be left out, people still want individuality. This rings especially true for cosmetics products, personal care, and eCommerce shopping. 80% of consumers said they're more likely to make a purchase if the experience is personalized. Consumers want custom-created products, the option to personalize each item, and nothing less than a fantastic customer experience and customer support. 

While millennials loved subscription boxes like Birchbox, Gen Z is asking for new products that can be customized to their tastes and needs. Implementing an influencer marketing strategy and leveraging beauty influencers is one of the best channels to showcase this trend and show consumers how products can be customized. A campaign designed around user generated content (UGC) is a brilliant way to bring this ecommerce shopping experience to life, using your existing community and brand champions to show how it works for them.

4. Shift Away From Retail To Shopping At Home

One thing is for sure: 2021 doesn't mean the stretches of time at home are coming to an end. The beauty industry will lead the charge in bringing artificial intelligence (AI), home try-on, realistic (or not so much!) filters, and other digital extensions to the online shopping and checkout experience while lockdown persists. This will show up on product pages; social media like Instagram, Facebook (see Spark AR for a sneak peek), YouTube, and TikTok; and through video calling platforms like Zoom. So make sure you know these Social Ecommerce Trends for 2021.

For a hint of what's on deck, take a look at Perfect Corp, the world’s leading AR company. At the end of 2019, they partnered up with the Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, to integrate the YouCam Makeup AR virtual try-on technology into Taobao and Tmall Alibaba online shopping experiences. Chinese customers had a new way to virtually shop, and after 6 months, Alibaba revealed they had increased their conversion rate by 4x! 

Perfect Corp has also just signed deals with Snapchat and Google, so this tech is coming worldwide soon. We've seen other big players like MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, YSL, L'Oreal, and NARS add a layer of technology to their online shopping experiences. 

Keep your eyes peeled for more AI, AR, and VR from your favorite beauty brands, and it doesn't stop at color cosmetics brands. Skincare brands are offering skin analysis tools, too, where the customer can get custom skincare product recommendations based on selfies.

Get yourself acquainted with the Mobile Ecommerce Trends of 2021 to make sure you're always in the game.

5. Increase In Hand-Care Products

Handwashing will never be the same again. If we're going to continue the compulsive yet smart habit, the personal care space might as well make it a great experience. Look for products featuring hydrating, skin-smoothing, and aromatherapy ingredients; packaging that doubles as decor; and hand sanitizer that our early pandemic selves would praise. 

Once the beauty industry realized how clinical most of the common antibacterial hand sanitizers are, the safety-essential entered the luxury space, and now everyone from Amazon to goop is trying to get a piece. 

Social media-darling hand sanitizer brand, Touchland, sold out time and time again, leading to a 1,499% increase in quarterly sales in 2020 compared to the previous year. Drugstore brands like Dove and Vaseline also pounced on the behavior shift, creating nourishing, virus-fighting formulas that actually leave skin feeling healthy.

6. Increased Protection From Blue Light And Screens

With more time in front of our screens comes more risks to our wellbeing. Most of us are quite aware of the mental and emotional impact, but don't forget about blue light damage. Glasses can protect your eyes, but what about your delicate facial skin and hands? 

Maryam Zamani, oculoplastic surgeon and founder of MZ Skin, says:

This blue light causes free radical damage and induces degrading enzymes in the skin, resulting in accelerated aging, pigmentation, and texture issues.

Maryam Zamani

We should already be wearing SPF all day, but for those nighttime Netflix binges or self-care evenings when we're glued to our screens, where's the protection?

As we become more aware of the effects, the cosmetics industry is unearthing innovative ingredients to help fight the damage. The startup Goodhabit is one of the latest: they're a brand built entirely on the concept of blue light protection.

Final Thoughts

We’d love to hear from you in the comments — have you implemented any of these wellness or beauty ecommerce trends in your eCommerce strategy yet? What’s working or not working for you in terms of eCommerce sales? How do you think these trends stack up in terms of global ecommerce trends and retail ecommerce trends? Interested in more? Check these Food Ecommerce Trends and Alcohol Ecommerce Trends out to make your stay at home even more comfortable!

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Interested in all things sustainable? Check this out: The Sustainable Ecommerce Handbook

By Elysia Mann

Elysia Mann is a marketing strategist and consultant, working with lifestyle + wellness brands on all things marketing and brand. Her dreams (or nightmares?) sometimes include abandoned carts.

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