Beauty Beat. Cyber Beauty Shopping Remains Strong This Holiday Season

December 5, 2008 • Beauty


Credit-crunch-induced guilt may have stopped visits to the beauty counter this season, but the computer and TV might prove too enticing to ignore.

Online beauty retailers and
TV shopping networks are courting shoppers with a steady stream of
promotions where they are spending a lot more time these days: their
homes. So far this season, the effort seems to have succeeded. Digital
tracking firm comScore reported that shoppers spent $846 million online
on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, up 15% from $733
million the prior-year period. The rate of growth, however, marked a
slowdown from 2007’s increase of 21%.

According to WWD, the online arm of Bluemercury saw sales
surge 80% on Cyber Monday. An e-mail to shoppers listing the top
40 gifts under $40 — a new strategy for the beauty apothecary — powered
the sales gain, said Bluemercury founder Marla Malcolm Beck. She added
that whimsical color cosmetics, including Bobbi Brown’s shimmer lip
glosses and Laura Mercier Lip Velvet, are proving to be brisk sellers.

Online retailer partnered
with beauty brands to offer more compelling gift sets, and is tossing
in added incentives such as gift-with-purchase and free shipping, said
Kathleen McNeil, vice president of beauty for

To remove the most common barrier to online
shopping, and its partner site,, are offering
free standard shipping with any purchase. Purchases of $100 or more
come with a free beauty-product-filled gift box from designer Rachel
Roy, while supplies last. In general, “gift-with-purchase is stronger
than it has ever been,” said McNeil.

For the official holiday
shopping kickoff, offered free shipping on all orders of
$25 or more from last Sunday to Thursday. This weekend, it plans to
offer free shipping on all orders from today to Monday, and throughout
the holiday, the e-tailer is including three free samples with every

promotions are streaming into homes over TV airwaves, too. HSN is
wooing new customers by giving them a 15% discount off their
first single-item purchase on its online site, As for its TV
programming, Michael Henry, HSN’s senior vice president of
merchandising for beauty, said: “Makeup and color [cosmetics] continues
to be the strongest segment, led by holiday gift collections and
innovative product introductions. For example, just [Wednesday] we sold
out of 5,000 of the new Givenchy mascara in under 20 minutes. Our
customer is still looking for what’s hot and what’s new. Along those
lines in the fragrance arena, we had great success with the uniqueness
of the Harajuku Lovers, which sold out in one day.”

holiday, it seems browsing has been replaced by laser-focused shopping.
At QVC, Allen Burke, director of beauty and cosmetics, said, “We’re
seeing a shopper today who is a lot more thoughtful about the purchases
she’s making.…She was in the driver’s seat before, and she’s even more
in the driver’s seat now.”

Read "Beauty Report: E-tailers Offer Ray of Hope" here.

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