Study: Beauty Consumers Prefer Mobile Devices Over Sales Associates

 (Photo: istockphoto)

(Photo: istockphoto)

In a few short years, the rise of smartphones has transformed the way people socialize, consume content and shop. According to market research company TNS, the average millennial spends around 3.2 hours a day tuned into their mobile device. This constant digital connection is also affecting how shoppers interact with salespeople, including beauty advisors. To better understand this new consumer behaviour in the cosmetics aisles, market research firm Mintel surveyed 2,100 US-based Internet users, aged 18 and over, for its recent Beauty Retailing US report. Here, some key findings:

  • 45 percent of survey takers said they preferred to use their mobile device to search for beauty product information in-store, rather than ask for a sales associate’s assistance
     
  • 16 percent of consumers said they shopped where sales staff would leave them alone until they asked for help
     
  • 36 percent of respondents said they would be interested in using an in-store tablet or their own mobile device to pay for beauty purchases
     
  • 58 percent of consumers said they were interested in mobile apps that provided beauty product offers to redeem in-store
     
  • Heavy purchasers of cosmetics (those who bought 11 or more different types of cosmetics in the past year) were the most likely to engage on social media, with 69 percent saying they enjoyed giving product feedback on the retailers’ social channels

So what’s the best way to appeal to digital-savvy consumers? “Brands should look to capitalize on these influential consumer advocates by giving them a voice and providing rewards for their endorsements,” advised Diana Smith, senior research analyst of retail and apparel at Mintel, in a release summarizing the new research. “Taking into consideration the fact that many consumers plan their beauty purchases—whether to replace regularly used items or experiment with new ones—positive feedback from heavy users on social platforms could encourage potential buyers to move forward with a purchase.”

Some brands are well on their way to courting these shoppers, offering on-the-go apps that enable them to access reviews or search for product details, and even virtually “try on” different looks:

Sephora to Go

 (photo: Courtesy of Sephora)

(photo: Courtesy of Sephora)

This iPhone app allows beauty addicts to shop, scroll the inspiration-filled Beauty Board, and scan an item’s barcode in-store for reviews, photos and how-to videos. With the app’s latest update, Virtual Artist, users can virtually try on any lip product from the retailer’s enormous range.

L’Oréal Paris Makeup Genius

 (photo: Courtesy of L’Oréal Paris)

(photo: Courtesy of L’Oréal Paris)

This iPhone/Android app lets users “test-drive” the brand’s colour cosmetics or red-carpet makeup looks in real time, showing the product’s effects on their selfies.