For Online Beauty Products Shoppers, Price Counts a Lot

Free shipping and returns also play a big role

April 25, 2017

What do women want when they're buying beauty products online? It's pretty straightforward: They want low prices, and they want free shipping.

An October 2016 survey of US female digital beauty shoppers by A.T. Kearney found a focus on value—best prices, free shipping, free returns, special promotions—and very little interest in what might be called digital bells and whistles—interactivity, monthly replenishment, interesting content and peer reviews.

Virtually all of the women surveyed considered price to be very or somewhat important. Only 5% said it didn’t matter much. Attitudes about free shipping and free returns were much the same.

Interestingly the only non-value-oriented feature in the top 5 was “site security.”

That is an interesting parallel to a survey by SheSpeaks and Womenkind earlier this year. That study found that 28% of US female internet users expressed at least some level of distrust for beauty and personal care companies. The category scored considerably better than financial services and automotive, but trailed packaged goods providers and nonprofit companies.

The A.T. Kearney survey found little interest in “interactivity,” a sign that shoppers may not feel ready for augmented reality applications or other cutting-edge shopping tools when shopping for makeup. But A.T. Kearney noted that “the recent launch of makeup apps such as L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius and Sephora Virtual Artist shows a strong link to the spike in online sales of color cosmetics.”

The survey also asked where women shoppers look for beauty and personal care products online. Amazon was the most commonly cited retailer, named by 69% of respondents. It was followed by Sephora (41%), Ulta (37%) and Walmart (36%).