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Shopping for beauty products – 2023 snapshot

With revenue in excess of £75 billion worldwide and market growth at over 16%, beauty and cosmetics continue to be big business, bucking the trends for slower growth experienced by other industries.

It’s a uniquely customer-driven industry where brands can be made or broken by a three-minute social media video, and we wanted to take a snapshot of beauty customers’ behaviour by asking them how they shop, how they feel and what they want from their experience. The results give valuable insight into the direction of the market and what motivates beauty customers to buy.

Overall, most of the beauty customers we surveyed buy products at least once a month (53%), with more than half (51%) seeing them as a necessity that they can’t do without.

When it comes to sustainability, while environmental considerations play a part in our respondents’ purchase journey, they are not essential to their decisions to buy – when asked their preference:

  • 50% agree that they will always buy sustainable products where possible and if brands can prove their credentials
  • 45% say sustainability is not part of their decision to buy, though it’s nice if products are sustainable
  • 5% said that sustainability is not something they consider

To find out what they think about data-driven customer experiences, we asked our respondents how they felt about the statement:

‘Research shows that most customers don’t believe that retailers know them well enough to make the right recommendations’

  • 74% said that they agree that retailers don’t seem to have access to enough information about them and what they like


  • 18% of that number stating that they believe retailers are focused on selling products rather than finding out what they need

To take a more in-depth look at this, we asked respondents what they would like beauty retailers to know about them so that they have a better shopping experience. The results revealed a consistent desire for personalisation – here are the top 5 answers:

  1. My skin type and my problem areas so that I get the right product
  2. My budget and how much I usually spend so that they can share offers and products in my price range
  3. What I’ve bought in the past, so that I can get reminders when those products are on offer/in stock
  4. Colour preferences and palettes that suit me
  5. How long I have been a customer, so that I can benefit from any loyalty offers

Finally, we asked respondents for the one thing beauty retailers could do to make the shopping experience special – here’s what they said:

‘Do the work for me and tell me what I need for my skin and skin tone’

‘Offer a more tailored service to suit you and your specific skin type, I find that brands seem to make products and generalise their market, when in reality we all have different skin types and like different products.’

‘A lot of brands focus on women's cosmetics. As a male, I think it would be special if brands could help me find my confidence in wearing make-up/cosmetics by focusing more on male products as I don't know where to begin and am scared to try.’

‘It would be nice to go into a store and know exactly what products in what shades or types I have bought before and liked. Maybe even an analysis of what would work for me so that I don't waste money. I would really love this across all brands as it is very rare I shop in just one brand for beauty and skincare.’ 

‘A more tailored approach to recommendations based on my previous purchases. More invites to events and immersive experiences.’

The full picture 

It’s clear from this snapshot that beauty shoppers are still looking for a personal experience based on their specific needs, and that they acknowledge that they will have to share data to make this happen. For the first time, cosmetics for men has been raised as an area for consideration, with a focus on their need to be seen, heard and made welcome as part of the shopping experience.

Retailers looking to engage customers across the ever-broadening spectrum of beauty shoppers should be ready to elevate their in-store experiences with comprehensive clienteling and intelligent insight which will deliver the personal touch for every customer at every stage.

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Related resource

Beauty customer experience – sharing skills to secure sales

To keep up with customer demand for real-time, relevant experiences that bring the latest products and trends to their home, beauty brands are looking at one-to-many and masterclass services, as well as one-to-few events for targeted special occasions.