In an ever-increasing digital world, the high street remains a firm favourite with British shoppers, accounting for 80% of prestige beauty sales in 2018. Whilst online sales grew at a rate of 13% in 2018, shoppers continue to visit shops, boutiques and department stores in vast numbers to immerse themselves in the brand experience, allowing them to touch, feel and experiment with colours and textures. They can compare emerging brands with established brands while discovering the delights of the experiential retail setting bursting with new ideas and innovations. I can attest to this because I do it, myself. In my opinion, there’s nothing quite like walking into a boutique to experience the brand first hand before deciding to make that purchase.
This demonstrates the continued importance of high street outlets and department stores, as prestige beauty increasingly relies on a hands-on, consultant-led approach with demonstrations, sampling, gift with purchase, skincare advice and make-up lessons all part of the retail mix.
One of the benefits of working at The NPD Group is being able to dig into the research in order to better assist clients with strategy, planning and the optimisation of staff (and, of course, to educate myself in the process). Not too long ago, whilst perusing the data, it became obvious to the NPD Beauty team just how important beauty consultants can be to a retailers’ bottom line.
In fact, this research was one of that factors that led to the development of a series of tools to measure the role, value and efficiency of beauty consultants in the retail setting. This provided us with the ability to help a client to implement a revised beauty consultant program with a focus on specific KCP, which in turn resulted in a market share increase. The program ended up being such a success that the client has been using it on an ongoing basis.
I am proud of my team, but I’ll not boast too much. This was, after all, a collaborative effort with the client. The point is, beauty consultants are a major part of the consumer experience, as well as driving increased footfall into the doors. Beauty buyers continue to shop in store for their beauty needs and the high street looks set to maintain its dominance for many years to come.
As a side note, it’s interesting to me that despite the boom in beauty bloggers and video make-up tutorials, online only has only secured a 20% share of the beauty market to date. What the last year has shown, however, is that online sales in prestige skincare, fragrance and make-up are driving the business forward - not necessarily taking away from the high street - but adding to it.