How Beauty & Cosmetic Companies Are Surviving “The Death of Retail”

July 27, 2018 -
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Over the past few years, brick and mortar retail has been struggling and slowly dying. Thousands of store-fronts have closed as consumers shift to a more convenient method of shopping online. In the midst of the death of retail, the beauty and cosmetic industry has managed to stay afloat–but how are they saving themselves?

According to Inkwood Research, “beauty is booming”, and the market is expected to grow by $750 billion by 2024. This leads people to ask the question–why? Why is the beauty industry thriving while other industries are closing their storefronts? As Anna Nicolaou and Aimee Keane wrote in their Financial Times article,

“People want to touch and see lipstick and concealers before opening their wallets”.

Since consumers have such a desire to hold beauty products in their hands before they make a purchase, the in-store environment/experience is of utmost importance for maintaining sales. An article titled, Why Beauty Will Continue To Rule Retail, says:

“Experience” is a buzzword in retail today, with companies falling over each other to create a store with the right atmosphere, the right price points and loyalty programs, and a unique format. But beauty, more so than any other sector, has been at the forefront of that trend. Storefronts in that category tend toward the experiential — and none more so than Sephora’s.”

The term ‘branded environment’ can be used to describe the atmosphere of a store like Sephora. In fact, Sephora has been called a “playground for brands”. They have learned how to effectively combine different brands of makeup so that customers can shop in one place for everything they are looking for. It is evident that this sort of branded environment is allowing the beauty industry to thrive.

Perhaps even more notable than the cosmetic industry’s use of branded environments, is its use of technology. While other industries are failing due to the rise of the tech industry, the beauty industry is using technology to its advantage. MAC cosmetics recently launched an in-store mirror that allows customers to virtually try-on products. An article by says,

“The mirror, developed by ModiFace, can overlay 29 virtual eye makeup styles onto a live video of the user. Facial tracking technology maps the user’s face 30 times per second…and aims to mimic real-life application by a makeup artist.”

In short, the beauty and cosmetic industries are thriving due to their use of branded environments and the incorporation of technology within those environments. Brands need to continue to develop pop-ups and other temporary venues that allow shoppers to become part of an experience before they make a purchase.