PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

eCosmetics Co-Founder Bridges the Trust Gap for Online Beauty Shoppers

As beauty brands look for ways to gain digital shoppers without being able to offer in-store product trials, eCosmetics is seeing sampling prove vital to winning over new customers.

Alex Irvin, co-founder at the online retailer, which sells beauty and personal care products, explained in an interview with PYMNTS how brands have been getting generous with their sampling to acquire new shoppers digitally.

“It’s tough for a little sample,” Irvin said. “A little vial of skincare, for instance, is not going to do anything. You have to use it for a month before you see any effect. So, these independent, smaller beauty brands are giving us full-sized units to give out to our customers with a regular purchase. We see pretty good uptake and brand recognition and reorder after that. Really, the hardest thing for those people is getting the product into the hands of the customer.”

He noted that it is not enough just for brands to give away their products. Shoppers also need to trust the retailer that they are getting those samples from to be willing to try them on their skin.

“If you don’t trust who you’re buying from, then you’re not going to try something new,” Irvin said.

Once that trust threshold is passed, consumers are willing to buy beauty and skincare products digitally. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “Tracking the Digital Payments Takeover: Catching the Coming eCommerce Wave,” which surveyed over 2,600 U.S. consumers, found that 39% of online shoppers expressed a strong likelihood of increasing their online purchases of health and beauty products in the next year. The figure surpassed that of any other product category.

Plus, the 2023 PYMNTS Intelligence study “Changes in Grocery Shopping Habits and Perception,” based on a survey of over 2,400 U.S. consumers, revealed that nearly half of all shoppers are reducing their in-store purchases of personal and healthcare products. Additionally, 48% of those who buy these items do not purchase them in physical stores.

Overall, beauty shoppers are bucking trends in terms of how inflation is influencing consumers’ spending decisions. In general, research from the February/March installment of the PYMNTS Intelligence “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report” series revealed that consumers are more likely to cut back on how many retail products they are buying than to trade down to lower-quality products. The study found that 60% of the more than 4,200 U.S. consumers surveyed were pulling back on nonessential retail purchases because of inflation, while less than half had switched to cheaper products.

In cosmetics, Irvin said, the opposite is true. “The majority” of people, he asserted, opt for lower-priced brands, unwilling to cut a given makeup product out of their routine entirely.

“It’s called the lipstick effect, where people just simply are not going to stop buying lipstick, but what they do, what we’ve seen, is that maybe they’re not going to buy the $30. Maybe they’re going to buy the $15,” Irvin said.

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