Last updated on April 12, 2020

Aliza Polkes
Copywriter & Editor @ Yotpo
May 3rd, 2019

In a survey of nearly 2,000 female eCommerce shoppers, social proof and strong branding were just two of the most important factors influencing their beauty buying decisions.

The face of the beauty industry is changing. The rise of digitally native brands has impacted buying habits, and issues like brand loyalty, influencer and peer marketing, and diverse representation in ads have become key issues for both consumers and the companies trying to win them over.

We wanted to take a closer look at some of the most notable trends in the beauty industry today, to better understand the values and marketing strategies that can help brands deepen relationships with their customers. To do this, we polled 1,875 U.S. and U.K. women, ages 14 – 73, who say they prefer to buy beauty products directly from brands instead of from third-party retailers like Sephora or Amazon. Here’s what we found:

1. Values drive purchases

Beauty shoppers are increasingly conscious of how a brand’s values align with their own. 42.9% of women say that eco-friendliness and sustainability matter when considering a brand, and more than seven in ten say a brand’s dedication to diversity impacts their buying decisions. Women prefer to buy from brands whose ads feature a variety of ethnicities (75.3%) and show women of different body types (84%).

2. Social proof is paramount

44.7% of women polled say customer reviews are most influential in getting them to make a purchase from a certain brand, with referrals from friends a close second at 44.5%. Both outpace TV commercials (17.7%), digital and social media ads (10.2%), and offline ads (6.8%), combined.

3. Brand trumps influencers

A brand’s “direct” marketing channels, including email (17.4%), social media accounts (14%), and product packaging (14.6%), each have more influence on a woman’s decision to buy than endorsements from influencers and celebrities (11.6%).

4. UK millennials: price sensitive, eCommerce-friendly

More UK millennials (52%) buy directly from beauty brands than do their U.S. counterparts (39%) because the prices are better. 60% of millennials in the UK prefer buying from a brand’s eCommerce site while 61% of Americans prefer to buy from a physical location or pop-up shop.

5. From “nice-to-have” to “have-to-have”

The number one factor that convinces women of every generation to make discretionary purchases are positive customer reviews (60.2%). After that, brands need to get more specific if they want to appeal to a certain generation. For example, GenZ is most influenced by influencers/celebrities (34%) as well as Instagram popularity (32%). Millennials and GenX are influenced by customer photos (36% and 28%, respectively) and customer videos (31% and 19%, respectively).

Check out the full report here.