In India, the skin care category is among the fastest growing on e-commerce and it’s driven largely by women consumers, followed by baby care and hair care. Several studies, reports and surveys in the past two years, have tried to make the point. Google has predicted that by 2016, India will have 100 million online shoppers, of which nearly 40 million will be women. However, the numbers, with all their intrinsic biases, are not as important as the more qualitative underlying mega trend: our shopping habits are changing and we are shopping and researching more online. Against this backdrop here are five emerging online buying trends for skin care in India that we see gathering more
steam in 2016.
Online researchers will turn online shoppers
In 2013 and 2014, the internet was primarily a tool for researching skin care products before making a purchase at a physical store. You checked ingredients at leisure, ran a Google search about a few intriguing ones, read reviews and bought the product at a brick and mortar store. Skin care as a category is word -of-mouth driven and lends itself well to social media and blogs. Not only is the experience of buying a skin care product from a brand’s official website or a legitimate re-seller more engaging and trustworthy, it’s also convenient and non-intrusive with no pesky sales staff trying to hard sell. 2016 is going to be about the internet skin care researcher becoming an online shopper. Stores will surely co-exist, but could be reduced to add-on sales and branding channel.
Brands will find more first-time consumers online
As more consumers research online, the internet has become the environment where they meet, get to know and share their love or spite, for a skin care brand. Several internet driven business models, led mainly by beauty sample subscription services that send an assortment of sample sized products to your doorstep, have fueled this trend. Also, the steady rise of amateur internet beauty gurus and bloggers in India, with a devoted following, is contributing to this trend.
Mobile commerce will gain momentum
India is the world’s second largest mobile economy where most first-time internet consumers, particularly in the Tier I and Tier II regions, have leapfrogged the PC and now use smart phones for shopping. E-commerce companies including Snapdeal, Flipkart, Myntra and others, have launched mobile phone applications this year. Snapdeal told a newspaper in October that it expects 90 per cent of its orders to come from mobile devices over the next three years. This will help in getting a mobile savvy internet consumer base ready across categories including beauty and skin care.
Social proof and customer feedback will assume greater importance
Unlike colour cosmetics, skin care products are only as good as their ability to show results. You can’t verify the efficacy of a skin care product by merely smelling it or rubbing a small amount on the back of your palm, like one does at a physical store. Customers know that and are increasingly attaching more weight to reviews and recommendations from others like them before making a purchase. Blogs dedicated to beauty are proliferating at a rapid pace as are reviews on social networking websites.
The second generation of e-commerce – internet driven omni channel skin care brands
As the above factors gather momentum, consumers will gradually realise that the internet isn’t about finding cheaper deals, but is a legitimate source of buying products that offer true value. This shall spawn the new wave of vertical integration of manufacturing, branding and direct-to- consumer distribution. Being vertically integrated i.e. having the entire supply chain in-house, such brands are able to pay better attention to product quality and brand communication and simultaneously, target specific consumers with intent to buy and track marketing spend more efficiently than the more traditional models of retailing skin care.