Beauty and personal care e-commerce in the United States - statistics & facts

Over the past few years, beauty and personal care e-commerce has experienced tremendous growth in the United States. What used to be an industry limited to physical stores not too long ago, is now taking hold of the digital landscape at a rapid pace. In 2020, personal care retail sales in the United States generated 32 billion U.S dollars in e-commerce revenue, and thereby accounted for almost 7.4 percent of total retail e-commerce sales that year.

Given the increased internet penetration and widespread digital connectivity, web sales are becoming a solid line of revenue for the beauty and personal care industry. While these sales only accounted for 15 percent of the segment’s total retail revenue in early 2021, a systemic shift is slowly but surely re-shaping the U.S. beauty landscape. Beauty e-commerce sales have been experiencing impressive growth for years. But since the onset of COVID-19, the online sales channel became the norm for beauty retailers and cosmetics brands alike. In 2020, personal care was one of the product categories where consumers most bought online.

One of the earliest and most successful e-commerce players in the U.S. beauty industry is Sephora. The French beauty retailer launched its first website in 1998, catapulting the company into a digital future and generating nearly 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in e-commerce revenue two decades later. E-retail giant Amazon has experienced one of the largest growth rates in online beauty market share in the United States, mainly attributable to the broad spectrum of beauty brands and items available on the site, which made it one of the most chosen platforms in the context of the pandemic. Even so, other online retailers such as Ulta, Bath & Body Works, and Instacart also showed impressive sales growth and have steadily gained ground in U.S. consumers' minds.

Social media revamps the beauty industry

But how do U.S. consumers choose which beauty and personal care products to buy and where to buy them? One major contributor to this decision-making process is social media. When asked about their primary discovery channels for online beauty products, an increasing share of U.S. respondents list social media platforms as a primary source. Digital content and online video content, in particular, have become some of the most lucrative forms of marketing during the last decade, and nowhere is the influence of such channels more evident than in the beauty industry.

Today’s consumers no longer have to frequent brick-and-mortar stores for beauty and make-up advice, but instead, expand their beauty horizons from home. Millions of digital natives are turning to tutorials and reviews on social media platforms like Instagram and video-sharing site YouTube for the latest trends in the beauty world. By clicking on content and subsequently buying the products on offer, beauty shoppers are boosting sales numbers and simultaneously producing a new type of online celebrity. For beauty companies, this rise of self-made beauty experts like Jeffree Star or James Charles provides a new platform to engage beauty audiences and expand brand awareness. In turn, such cooperations help influencers and beauty content creators earn eight-digit sums each year.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 34 most important statistics relating to "Beauty and personal care e-commerce in the United States".

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