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Social media has changed not only how we live, but how we shop. It’s difficult to find anyone who doesn’t have an Instagram account. This photo sharing social network has taken the world by storm, allowing users to capture moments and share them either privately or openly. Like most of those I know with accounts, once I snap a picture, it’s there for posterity in my feed. But apparently, the younger generation does things a bit differently.

In speaking with my younger and much hipper 17-year old cousin, she questioned why I would leave so many photos on my feed. She explained that most of her friends edit their photos on a consistent basis, taking photos down when they no longer feel these photos define them or if they don’t receive many “likes.” She keeps around 20-25 pictures on her Instagram so it represents the “best” of her life; a glossy representation at best.

Like kids with their Instagrams, beauty retailers have begun to edit their brands and products. Ten or fifteen years ago, when a brand was introduced into a store, the entire collection was displayed. But specialty stores like Sephora and Ulta have changed that, and vertical apparel retailers like Urban Outfitters and Anthropolgie have taken the concept even further. Both retailers often bring in small, niche brands with limited-to-no distribution and take only the star items of the lineup.

This sort of cherry picking makes sense in today’s retail climate. About three-quarters of any major sub-segment within skincare are planned purchases, which indicates that by the time consumers are at the purchase stage either in-store or online, they have completed research through family, friends, or other sources*. As a matter of fact, social media and blogs are among the only sources of information to increase with consumers*.

Skincare is certainly the most affected category within beauty since it is usually a purchase that requires some research and thought. Many of the brands that are thriving through social media are focusing on hero items, while introducing new products that consumers have expressed interest in through social feeds. This is a trend that will not go away anytime soon, so it remains to be seen how some of the more mainstream brands, with a larger product portfolio, adapt to this increasingly edited environment.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report 2015

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