Over the past few years, beauty and personal care e-commerce has experienced tremendous growth in the United States. What used to be an industry limited to physical stores not too long ago, now has taken a firm hold of the digital landscape. In 2021, personal care retail sales in the United States generated nearly 54 billion U.S dollars in e-commerce revenue, and thereby accounted for over 11 percent of total retail e-commerce sales that year. Given the increased internet penetration and widespread digital connectivity, web sales are becoming a solid line of revenue for the beauty and personal care industry.
Beauty brands take the online stage
Sephora is one of the earliest and most successful e-commerce players in the U.S. beauty industry. The French beauty retailer launched its first website in 1998, catapulting the company into a promising digital future and generating nearly 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in e-commerce revenue two decades later. In 2022, around three in four U.S. online shoppers were aware of Sephora, which has a similar business model to the American beauty chain store Ulta Beauty, or Ulta. As both retailers serve as arguably the most popular one-stop shops for beauty products in the country, they are often compared by shoppers looking for the best buys. Despite such inevitable comparisons between the two retailer brands—their membership programs, product selections, sales, and deals—online shoppers seemed to view them quite similarly. While 28 percent of online health and beauty shoppers liked Sephora and Ulta respectively, Sephora enjoyed a slightly higher usage rate, at 23 percent, compared to Ulta’s 21 percent. Consumer loyalty and media buzz about each retailer also fell within similar levels, with a minor advantage towards Ulta.
Bath & Body Works is another popular U.S. retailer, albeit for personal care products such as toiletries and fragrances rather than makeup and skincare. The company, which generated over 7.8 billion U.S. dollars in sales in 2021, showed a brand recognition share of nearly 90 percent among digital buyers and was popular among 50 percent.
Social media revamps the beauty industry
Given the variety of beauty and personal care brands, how do consumers choose which products to buy and where to buy them? One major contributor to this decision-making process is social media. Globally, around seven in ten shoppers cited social media as a source of discovery or inspiration for products and brands. Among U.S. consumers, regardless of whether the content is posted by friends, brands, or influencers, social channels undeniably influence purchasing decisions. Digital content and online video content have become some of the most lucrative forms of marketing during the last decade, and nowhere is the influence of such channels more evident than in the beauty industry.
Today’s consumers no longer have to frequent brick-and-mortar stores for beauty and make-up advice but instead expand their beauty horizons from home. Millions of digital natives are turning to tutorials and reviews on social networks like Instagram and video-sharing site YouTube for the latest trends in the beauty world. By clicking on content and subsequently buying the products on offer, beauty shoppers are boosting sales numbers and simultaneously producing new online celebrities. For beauty companies, the rise of self-made beauty experts like Nikkie Tutorials or James Charles creates the perfect storm to engage beauty audiences and expand brand awareness. In turn, such cooperations help influencers and beauty content creators earn eight-digit sums each year.
Table of ContentsOverviewCategory benchmarksLeading brandsBrand engagementSocial media contentShopping behaviorMobile users
Description: Revenue from the e-commerce personal care market in the United States stood at 53,7 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. This was an increase of around 13 billion U.S. dollars compared to 2020. By 2025, the Statista Digital Market Outlook estimates this figure will rise to 79.3 billion dollars.
Description: In 2021, online health and personal care product sales in the United States grew 30.8 percent following the 28.5 percent market growth of 2020. The Statista Digital Market Outlook estimates that starting in 2022 the market although continuing to grow will do so at a lower rate of around ten percent.
Description: Personal care accounted for 11.38 percent of the total e-commerce market in the United States in 2021. By 2025, the Statista Digital Market Outlook estimates that this figure will decline to 10.83 percent.
Description: In 2021, the cosmetics and beauty e-commerce industry in the United States generated roughly 15.6 billion U.S. dollars in sales. This figure is expected to almost double, nearing 31 billion U.S. dollars by 2026.
Description: In 2021, the city average Consumer Price Index for personal care products in the United States stood at around 103.82 points, slightly up from the previous year. Since 2000, the CPI for this product category remained fairly stable, and reached its highest value of nearly 105.4 points in 2009.
Description: In 2020, the value of e-commerce sales of pharmaceuticals and beauty aids stood at 75.5 billion U.S. dollars, up from 51.7 billion U.S. dollars a year earlier. The online and mail-order sales share of total e-commerce in this segment has increased from around 31 to 38 percent in the same period.
Description: Furniture is the merchandise lines that registered the highest e-commerce sales in the United States in 2020. During that year, total electronic sales of furniture and home furnishings reached almost 116 billion U.S. dollars, of which 110 billion were generated through e-commerce platforms.
2. Category benchmarks
Description: The United States is globally known for its diverse e-commerce market and high levels of digital consumption. With a large and unified market backing up, the annual e-commerce revenue in the United States amounted to 767.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. The fashion category took the largest share, with around 181 billion dollars in revenue.
Description: The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of e-commerce categories averaged 13.5 percent for the period between 2017 and 2025. The highest CAGR for this period was estimated to be in the food segment, amounting to 26 percent growth. The segments of fashion and food & personal care each are estimated to have over 14 percent compound annual growth rate.
Description: Automobile and auto parts was the e-commerce category with the highest expected year-over-year growth between 2021 and 2022. As of February 2022, car and auto parts retail e-commerce sales were forecast to increase over 30 percent compared to the previous year. Food and beverage was the second fastest growing segment, at around 21 percent. The average retail e-commerce growth across all categories would reach 14 percent.
Description: Books, music, and video was the e-commerce category with the highest share in total retail sales in the United States as of February 2021. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of all retail sales in the book, music, and video segment were generated online. The category with the second-highest percentage of retail sales in the U.S. was computer and consumer electronics, at 53 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, automobile and auto-parts, as well as food and beverage, had the lowest share of retail sales, below five percent.
Description: In 2021, clothing and apparel were the most commonly purchased product category among social buyers in the United States. According to a survey, nearly a quarter (22 percent) of users said these items were the most frequently bought on social networks. Personal care and beauty followed, with 15 percent of respondents.
3. Leading brands
Description: In a 2022 survey, it was revealed that nearly 60 percent of online shoppers from the United States most often start their online beauty shopping journey on beauty retailer websites like Ulta or Sephora. Amazon was the second-most popular place for shoppers to look first when purchasing beauty products, with 19 percent.
Description: As of July 2022, ulta.com registered almost 71 million monthly visits in the United States. The Sephora brand website, sephora.com, ranked second, with around 54 million visits that month.
Description: In the United States, Combyne was the most downloaded app in the beauty app segment in 2021. The app, which allows users to create digital collages of outfits and purchase items, was downloaded almost 1.4 million times that year. Sport Clips Haircuts Check In was ranked second, the check-in app for the chain hair salon Sport Clips, was downloaded over 700,000 times.
Description: Walmart.com is leading the Personal Care e-commerce market in the U.S., with e-commerce net sales of US$ 3,700 million in 2020 generated in the U.S., followed by Amazon.com with US$ 3,374 million. Third place is taken by Bathandbodyworks.com with a revenue of US$ 1,929 million. Sephora.com is the fourth biggest Personal Care online store in the U.S. with net sales of US$ 1,770 million in 2020.
Description: Bathandbodyworks.com is the online shop with the highest eCommerce net sales that is selling products in the Beauty e-commerce market in the U.S., with a revenue of US$1,929 million in 2020 generated in the U.S., followed by Sephora.com with US$1,770 million. Third place is taken by Ulta.com with US$1,761 million. Dermstore.com is the fourth biggest Beauty online store in the U.S. with US$ 314 million in 2020.
4. Brand engagement
Description: How high is the brand awareness of ULTA in the United States?
Description: How high is the brand awareness of Sephora in the United States?
Description: How high is the brand awareness of Bath & Body Works in the United States?
Description: How high is the brand awareness of IPSY in the United States?
5. Social media content
Description: The displayed data on products/topics talked about online shows results of the Statista Global Consumer Survey conducted in the United States in 2022. Some 33 percent of respondents answered the question “On which of these topics have you expressed your opinion on the internet in the past 4 weeks (e.g. by liking an article on social media)?” with “Music”.
Description: As of November 2022, Sandra Cires Art was the most subscribed beauty content creator on the video platform with over 16 million subscribers to the channel. Beauty and makeup creators Jeffree Star ranked second, with approximately 16 million subscribers. Fashion and beauty-related videos such as makeup and skincare tutorials, cosmetics hauls, and product recommendations are among the most popular content on YouTube. In recent years, Korean YouTube channels focused on beauty and skincare have experienced an increase in popularity, with K-beauty creator and vlogger PONY Syndrome (Park Hye-min) counting almost 6 million subscribers as of February 2022.
Social video platforms
As of the end of 2021, more than nine in 10 users worldwide reported watching videos online, with music videos being the most popular category. Around 37 percent of the global digital population accessed YouTube, while the short-video app TikTok saw a reach of approximately 16 percent among internet users worldwide. In recent years, video content has become increasingly more popular with users, with even text-based social media platforms like Reddit planning to include this format in their libraries.
Video content creators in the U.S.
While far from being a mainstream profession, content creation is an increasingly recognized digital career for users in leading global markets such as the United States. According to a 2020 survey of YouTubers based in the country, six in 10 reported thinking that the platform gave them creative and earning opportunities they would not be able to access via traditional media. In 2021, around three in 10 online users in the United States reported having created video content specifically for the internet. While the share of creators who made money uploading their videos on the internet remained moderate, 43 percent of those who managed to generate revenues from their content saw between 100 and 999 U.S. dollars annually.
Description: As of March 2022, Kylie Cosmetics was ranked first as the most popular beauty brand on Instagram with over 25 million followers, and Anastasia Beverly Hills ranked second with 20 million. Instagram is a popular social network for brands to connect with digital audiences, and beauty brands have been making inroads on the platform due to its visual focus and strong presence of social media influencers.
Description: As of January 2021, personal care brand Bath & Body Works was ranked first with roughly 10.27 million Facebook followers. Risqué ranked second with 7.09 million followers on the social media platform.
6. Shopping behavior
Description: According to a 2022 survey, one third of beauty shoppers reported that between 26 to 50 percent of their online beauty purchases entailed products they had never tried before. Another third of respondents said only 25 percent or less of their online beauty purchases involved goods they had never tried before.
Description: In 2022, six in ten consumers from the United States reported that they always read ratings and reviews when doing online shopping for beauty products. Additionally, 39 percent reported that they sometimes do.
Description: Gen Z was the generation that most often read reviews and ratings while online shopping for beauty products in 2022, with 76 percent having reported doing so always. Generation X had the most consumers who never read reviews or ratings when online beauty shopping, at 47 percent.
Description: Digital buyers from the United States spent an average of 1 to 50 U.S. dollars per month on beauty products online in 2022, with a total 42 percent reporting this according to a survey on cosmetics spending. Additionally, 28 percent reported that they spent around 51 to 100 U.S. dollars on beauty purchases per month.
Description: A 2022 survey on digital beauty shopping revealed that 57 percent of U.S. shoppers who have an income of 100,000 U.S. dollars or more began to buy more beauty products online following the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison to before. Only eight percent of respondents with the same income reported buying less after the pandemic.
Description: In 2022 nearly 50 percent of U.S. respondents from a survey on digital beauty shopping reported that they now buy more beauty products compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic. This figure is down 4 percent from the year before.
Description: As of April 2022, a survey revealed that 14 percent of consumers from the United States preferred to purchase health and beauty products mostly online, while only 6 percent purchased these products only online. In comparison, one in ten Canadian and Mexican consumers purchased health and beauty items mostly online.
7. Mobile users
Description: In August 2022, geolocated user data revealed that those with a household income of less than 25,000 U.S. dollars made up the largest share of mobile beauty product shoppers in the United States, at just over 36 percent. Users with a household income between 40,000 and 59,999 U.S. dollars made up the second largest share (17.4 percent).
Description: Geolocated user data from August 2022 revealed that the largest share of mobile shoppers buying beauty products in the United States used Android devices, with a 63 percent share. IOS device users made up a 37 percent share.
Description: In the United States, data from August 2022 based on geolocated users revealed that women made up the largest share of mobile beauty product shoppers (69 percent). In comparison, men made up a 31 percent share.
Description: In August 2022, the largest share of mobile beauty shoppers in the United States consisted of people aged 18 to 24 (53 percent), based on geolocated user data. Adults between the ages of 25 and 34 made up around 27 percent of the beauty shopping mobile audience.
Source from Statista
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