Cosmetic & Grooming Product Consumers Increasingly Looking to Online Merchants

New York , N.Y. – December 18, 2014 – As shopping habits shift and change, the purchase channels for grooming and cosmetic staples become increasingly varied and it may be only a matter of time before we see sales from online merchants beginning to take over. Newly released data show consumers may be shifting gradually toward online merchants (14% more today than 2-3 years ago, 6% less, 32% same).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,068 U.S. adults surveyed online between June 16-18, 2014.

Most popular purchase channels

Despite the changes in purchase location over the past 2-3 years, the top purveyors of cosmetics and grooming products are mainly brick and mortar, and are by and large limited to just two or three main channels: “big box” retail stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores/supermarkets.

Majorities utilize “big box” retailers for each type of cosmetic and grooming product surveyed (sunscreen 64%, shampoo and conditioner 62%, hair styling product 62%, hair color product 60%, non-sunscreen product with SPF protection 59%, facial/skin care product 54%, and cosmetic 54%). Pharmacies and grocery stores/ supermarkets round out the top three merchants for most of these types of products, including shampoos and/or conditioners, hair styling products, sunscreen, non-sunscreen products with SPF protection, and hair color products.

However, certain product categories stand out from the crowd in this department. Facial/skin care products and cosmetics have the most diverse responses where purchase channels are concerned, with retailer types beyond the aforementioned “top three” still delivering strong percentages.

  • For cosmetics, online merchants (28%), department stores (24%) and grocery stores (23%) round out the top five after “big box” retailers (54%) and pharmacies (39%). Other popular channels outside of these include in-person at a specialty beauty products merchant (19%) and in-person/not in a store (15%).
  • Similarly, for facial/skin care product purchasers, online merchants (27%) rank third, after “big box” retailers (54%) and pharmacies (31%), along with outperforming grocery stores (23%). Department stores (17%) are another popular channel, while another one-in-ten turn to an in-person specialty beauty products merchant (11%).

Online merchants are currently most popular for purchasing cosmetics (28%), facial/skin care products (27%), hair color products (22%), non-sunscreen products SPF protection (21%), and hair styling products (20%). They are less popular for sunscreen (14%) and shampoo and/or conditioner (12%) purchases.

  • Looking at the different types of online merchants, online mass merchandisers are the most popular online channel for the majority of surveyed products (facial/skin care products 17%, non-sunscreen products with SPF protection 13%, hair color products 13%, hair styling products 12%, shampoos and/or conditioners 8%, and sunscreen 8%), with the exception of cosmetics, where online specialty beauty products merchants take the top spot (17%).

Perks and pitfalls of Internet purchases

Aside from a presumed convenience factor, the Internet has some additional perks as well, with 57% of adults stating they like being able to see grooming and/or cosmetic product reviews when shopping online. However, it’s not without its downfalls, and in-person purchases are particularly important for new and first-time product purchases:

  • Sixty-two percent say since computer screen colors vary, it’s important to buy grooming or cosmetic products in-person when buying for the first time.
  • Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) agree that they’re more likely to purchase health or cosmetic products in-person when there are new products they want to try.
  • And sometimes the Internet just can’t measure up to the in-person experience, as 33% agree they like to have an associate show them how to use a cosmetic product properly when shopping in-person.

Overwhelming, at the end of the day, what it really all comes down to is the cost. Eighty-eight percent agree that once they find a product they like, they’ll buy it wherever they can get the best price.

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TABLE 1

BEAUTY/HEALTH/COSMETIC PRODUCTS REGULARLY PURCHASE

by Gender & Age

“Which of the following, if any, do you purchase and regularly use? Please select all that apply.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Gender

Age

Male

Female

18-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Purchase And Regularly Use Listed Cosmetic Products (Net)

92

86

97

91

91

93

95

89

Shampoos and/or conditioners

87

81

93

84

84

92

92

86

Facial/Skin care products (e.g., moisturizers, primers, specialty cleansers)

48

27

68

55

46

48

41

48

Hair styling products

42

23

59

46

42

49

32

39

Sunscreen

41

36

46

44

44

44

33

40

Cosmetics (e.g., bronzer, foundation, lip gloss)

35

7

60

36

36

37

29

37

Non-sunscreen products with SPF protection (e.g., lotions, lip balm)

29

16

41

34

32

34

19

25

Hair color

21

9

33

19

20

28

21

20

None of these

8

14

3

9

9

7

5

11

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 2

PURCHASE CHANNELS BY PRODUCT

Summary Grid

“Thinking about grooming and/or cosmetic products, where or how do you typically buy [each of] the following?

Please select all that apply in each column.”

Variable Base: U.S. Adults who purchase/regularly use product

Shampoos and/or conditioners

Facial/Skin care products (e.g., moisturizers, primers, specialty cleansers)

Hair styling products

Sunscreen

Cosmetics (e.g., bronzer, foundation, lip gloss)

Non-sunscreen products with SPF protection (e.g., lotions, lip balms)

Hair color products

“Big box” retail store (e.g., Walmart, Target)

%

62

54

62

64

54

59

60

Grocery store/Supermarket

%

36

23

28

33

23

31

26

Pharmacy (e.g., CVS, Walgreens)

%

31

31

31

43

39

40

38

Online (Net)

%

12

27

20

14

28

21

22

Online mass merchandiser (e.g., Amazon, drugstore.com)

%

8

17

12

8

14

13

13

Online specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora, Ultra)

%

3

11

8

4

17

6

3

Online through a specific brand’s website (e.g., Clairol, CoverGirl)

%

1

5

3

2

4

2

7

Online through a “sampling” membership program (e.g. Ipsy, Birchbox)

%

1

4

3

2

4

3

6

Department Stores (e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom)

%

5

17

6

6

24

10

5

In-person at a specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora)

%

4

11

9

3

19

9

10

In-person/not in a store (e.g., Avon, Mary Kay)

%

2

10

4

4

15

8

4

Somewhere else

%

10

10

11

7

6

10

10

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


 

TABLE 3a

CHANGES IN COSMETIC/HEALTH/BEAUTY PURCHASE CHANNELS OVER PAST 2-3 YEARS

Summary Grid

“And still thinking about shopping for grooming and/or cosmetic products, how would you characterize your use of each type of retailer over the past 2-3 years?”

Base: U.S. Adults who regularly use any tested products

Getting more today from this type of retailer than I was 2-3 years ago

Getting less today from this type of retailer than I was 2-3 years ago

About the same

I have never shopped at this type of retailer for grooming and/or cosmetic products

Online mass merchandiser (e.g., Amazon, HSN)

%

14

6

32

48

“Big box” retail store (e.g., Walmart, Target)

%

13

12

65

10

Pharmacy (e.g., CVS, Walgreens)

%

10

16

52

22

Grocery store/Supermarket

%

9

14

56

20

Online specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora, Ultra)

%

6

8

22

64

In-person at a specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora)

%

5

9

25

61

Department Stores (e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom)

%

5

15

32

48

In-person/not in a store (e.g., Avon, Mary Kay)

%

4

13

25

58

Online through a specific brand’s website (e.g., Clairol, CoverGirl)

%

3

5

20

71

Online through a “sampling” membership program (e.g. Ipsy, Birchbox)

%

3

5

17

75

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


 

TABLE 3b

CHANGES IN COSMETIC/HEALTH/BEAUTY PURCHASE CHANNELS OVER PAST 2-3 YEARS

Summary of “ Getting more today from this type of retailer than I was 2-3 years ago” – by Gender & Age

“And still thinking about shopping for grooming and/or cosmetic products, how would you characterize your use of each type of retailer over the past 2-3 years?”

Base: U.S. Adults who regularly use any tested products

Total

Gender

Age

Male

Female

18-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Online mass merchandiser (e.g., Amazon, HSN)

14

14

15

20

14

15

12

8

“Big box” retail store (e.g., Walmart, Target)

13

12

14

20

13

12

10

8

Pharmacy (e.g., CVS, Walgreens)

10

11

8

17

7

7

6

6

Grocery store/Supermarket

9

11

8

14

5

9

10

6

Online specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora, Ultra)

6

6

6

11

5

3

4

1

In-person at a specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora)

5

4

7

11

4

3

3

2

Department Stores (e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom)

5

5

4

8

4

4

3

4

In-person/not in a store (e.g., Avon, Mary Kay)

4

3

5

8

2

2

2

4

Online through a specific brand’s website (e.g., Clairol, CoverGirl)

3

4

3

6

5

2

 

2

Online through a “sampling” membership program (e.g. Ipsy, Birchbox)

3

3

3

7

2

3

2

 

Note: Multiple responses allowed; indicates a value of <0.5%

 

TABLE 3c

CHANGES IN COSMETIC/HEALTH/BEAUTY PURCHASE CHANNELS OVER PAST 2-3 YEARS

Summary of “ Getting less today from this type of retailer than I was 2-3 years ago” – by Gender & Age

“And still thinking about shopping for grooming and/or cosmetic products, how would you characterize your use of each type of retailer over the past 2-3 years?”

Base: U.S. Adults who regularly use any tested products

Total

Gender

Age

Male

Female

18-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Pharmacy (e.g., CVS, Walgreens)

16

14

18

20

16

15

16

12

Department Stores (e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom)

15

15

16

17

13

16

14

16

Grocery store/Supermarket

14

13

16

15

14

12

15

15

In-person/not in a store (e.g., Avon, Mary Kay)

13

8

16

13

7

15

14

13

“Big box” retail store (e.g., Walmart, Target)

12

12

12

16

10

11

9

10

In-person at a specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora)

9

7

10

12

11

10

7

4

Online specialty beauty products merchant (e.g., Sephora, Ultra)

8

6

10

10

8

11

7

4

Online mass merchandiser (e.g., Amazon, HSN)

6

6

6

8

3

5

5

6

Online through a specific brand’s website (e.g., Clairol, CoverGirl)

5

6

5

8

5

3

5

4

Online through a “sampling” membership program (e.g. Ipsy, Birchbox)

5

6

4

9

4

4

3

3

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

TABLE 4a

PREFERENCE STATEMENTS

Summary Grid

“How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. Adults who regularly use any tested products

Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not applicable

Once I find a product I like, I’ll buy it wherever I can get the best price.

%

88

48

40

12

8

4

na

I’m more likely to purchase health or cosmetic products in-person when there are new products I want to try.

%

69

31

38

31

14

16

na

Since computer screen colors vary, it’s important to buy grooming or cosmetic products in-person when buying a product for the first time.

%

62

31

31

20

10

9

18

I like being able to see grooming and/or cosmetic product reviews when shopping online.

%

57

23

34

43

19

24

na

The colors I wear reflect the mood I’m in that day.

%

41

12

29

45

21

24

14

I feel it’s important to change the colors I wear with the seasons.

%

40

12

28

46

23

23

13

I feel it’s important to change the colors I wear with the current fashion.

%

33

10

23

53

25

28

14

I like to have an associate show me how to use a cosmetic product properly when shopping in-person.

%

33

11

22

47

19

27

20

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 4b

PREFERENCE STATEMENTS

Summary of “Strongly agree” + “Somewhat agree” – by Gender & Age

“How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?”

Base: U.S. Adults Who Regularly Use Listed Cosmetic Products

Total

Gender

Age

Male

Female

18-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65+

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Once I find a product I like, I’ll buy it wherever I can get the best price.

88

85

90

89

90

88

87

86

I’m more likely to purchase health or cosmetic products in-person when there are new products I want to try.

69

59

78

77

72

71

61

62

Since computer screen colors vary, it’s important to buy grooming or cosmetic products in-person when buying a product for the first time.

62

45

76

63

64

64

59

60

I like being able to see grooming and/or cosmetic product reviews when shopping online.

57

50

63

73

69

59

42

38

The colors I wear reflect the mood I’m in that day.

41

31

49

51

45

43

32

28

I feel it’s important to change the colors I wear with the seasons.

40

31

48

47

41

45

32

34

I feel it’s important to change the colors I wear with the current fashion.

33

25

40

42

35

39

25

21

I like to have an associate show me how to use a cosmetic product properly when shopping in-person.

33

26

39

44

37

29

25

25

Note: Multiple responses allowed

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between June 16 and 18, 2014 among 2,068 adults (aged 18 and over), 1,897 of whom purchase and regularly use at least one of products tested. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll ® #114, December 18, 2014

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.