Beauty Changes Its Look

Be'Anka Ashaolu
Be'Anka Ashaolu
Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing

Beauty continues its evolution from department store ground floors to standalone stores, empowered by a fanatical focus on customer-driven shopping experiences, discovering the secrets to shopper satisfaction and retention along the way.

When I was a child, my mother would take my sister and I to a little place called Nefertiti Beauty Supply to pick up all of our essential hair and makeup needs. The shop was primarily hair focused, with a few impulse makeup buys at the counter we’d ignore, and a beauty salon in the back. We’d pick out our synthetic braiding hair by color, stand under a fluorescent light to make sure it matched our own, leave with the packs, then return a few months later to perform the same routine all over again.

Fast forward to middle school and out were the fresh faces and braids and in was the dark drugstore lip liner and pink chapstick. This naturally led to DIY red highlights, trendy kohl-rimmed eyes and super slick lip gloss in high school. Naturally.

Just as style has evolved, so too has the health and beauty industry in retail.

Buyers, while still frequently returning to beauty stores to re-up, are now purchasing more and more

items from a variety of different places for a multitude of reasons. As it happens, the beauty industry is on target to take in $51.8 billion in 2020. That’s up from $46.2 billion just last year.

What is it about this business that continues drive traffic and increase sales? And, how can other segments bring some of this magic into their own stores?

Try Before You Buy

It’s no secret that I love Sephora. But I’ve also frequented MAC Cosmetics, bareMinerals, and NYX Cosmetics to get my makeup fix. What’s most appealing about beauty stores like these is the ability to try before you buy.

The stores are designed to encourage interaction with the products and are outfitted with vanities full of brushes, wipes, and makeup removers to make it easy. So not only do you get to look and feel, you get to test, remove, and retest.

Additionally, as beauty vloggers continue to rise in popularity, beauty stores are taking note. Their makeup artists (MUAs) are current, fresh, and inspiring. Sephora has even gone as far as launching TIP (teach, inspire, play) stores where shoppers can watch YouTube tutorials of their favorite looks to emulate themselves.

Putting on lipstick

This process of using yourself as the canvas to match shades, discover mattes, or finally snag the perfect nude lipstick is actually fun. And unlike most other retailers, beauty retailers also offer the unique shared experience of watching others make themselves over right in front of you.

How can your business inspire communal retail?

Diversity & Inclusion

Another exciting trend in beauty is the expansion of shades and companies dedicated to diversity. Not just in makeup, but in hair too.

There was once a time where finding my color foundation was like finding a good-fitting pair of jeans. Nearly impossible. And it wasn’t just me. People of color, from black to Indian, haven’t always had the luxury of finding makeup to complement their skin tones. Even natural hair products were relegated to the Nefertiti’s of the world and the ethnic hair care section of stores – like shampoo wasn’t just, well, shampoo.

Fortunately, this is changing.

African-American Eye Makeup

Many companies have launched with the exclusive intention to solve this problem by creating makeup in darker and more eclectic shades and natural hair products, which in turn, has inspired larger cosmetic brands (Covergirl, L’Oreal, Garnier) to do the same.

As demographics change and shoppers continue to demand more diversity, the cosmetic industry is finally beginning to answer the call by embracing the expansive community of makeup lovers and artists, including LGBTQ, to their brands.

How can your business inspire inclusive retail?

Au Naturale

Not to go all Alicia Keys on you, but many people are going au naturale – with cosmetics on, that is. From Lush Cosmetics to 100% Pure, quick-growing, natural beauty retailers are giving shoppers what they truly want by providing organic options and transparency about what’s in their products.

Lush, for example, allows shoppers to create their own products in-store using all natural ingredients, and they also encourage their shoppers to return and reuse the containers (here are more fun facts about Lush). How’s that for a beauty store experience?

100% Pure is also capitalizing on this demand with products that are completely “free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives and all other toxins.” Also important to note: the company’s products are cruelty-free (social consciousness is the new luxury, after all).

How can your business inspire transparent retail?

The cosmetic and general beauty industry leads the way in customer-driven shopping experiences. It has unearthed the secret to customer satisfaction and retention by focusing entirely on the shopper.

Beauty isn’t the only industry that can offer inspiring communal, inclusive, and transparent retail. Let’s discuss how your business can optimize the shopping experience.

Join the #retail and #inspiringretail conversations on Twitter @Beankash & @RetailNext, as well as at