All Women's Talk

Coronavirus and Cosmetics How the Pandemic Impacted the Beauty Industry ...

By HG

No country has been sheltered from the economic storm that came with the coronavirus pandemic. While some nations might have escaped the worst of the death toll – the impact on the global economy was devastating and will be long lasting. In Australia, which proudly weathered previous global economic storms, the fall in GDP was the worst seen since records began in 1959.

Just as no country can escape the challenge of Covid-19, it’s also the case that no sector has been unaffected too. The world of cosmetics might well seem particularly vulnerable to conditions where in-person shopping is restricted. After all, as McKinsey shows  up to 85% of beauty purchases were made in physical stores before the pandemic. Even among young people, the numbers were high – with about 60% of purchases still made in shops. When shops close – or customers are deterred from going out – it’s bound to hurt sales.

That reliance on in-person shopping is perhaps no surprise given that these are products we like to sample, try out and inspect at close range before purchasing – all things frowned upon in a world where strict hygiene measures are necessary, even if retailers are allowed to open to the public.

Yet there are other factors too. Wearing masks changes many peoples’ makeup priorities – and the reduction in face-to-face business meetings reduces the need for perfumes and fragrances that we’d normally turn to when looking to make an impression.

But, while the picture is undeniably tough for this sector – to focus solely on the negatives would be to miss part of the story.

Zoom Boom and Self Care

With millions of workers around the world forced to stay indoors and do their work from their own homes – there was an explosion in video calls and conferences. That was great news for Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype etc but also caused other changes in behaviour. All of a sudden there was a huge focus on our faces more than ever before – and a greater need for attention on skincare, hair and makeup.

The likes of Ulta Beauty put this ‘Zoom boom’ down to ecommerce sales that soared 200% in the quarter ending August 1. There was definitely some sense of video call fatigue as the novelty wore off in 2020 – but that didn’t completely remove the focus on faces. Also, over time, the industry turned to gadgets as people looked for solutions to the ‘maskne’ that became an issue after persistent wearing of face coverings.

There’s also an increasing realisation of the role that cosmetics and beauty products play in self care. KORA Organics founder Miranda Kerr isn’t the only person who developed a ‘lockdown routine’ – and such ideas were as much about mindset and wellbeing as appearance.

Brands that offered an at-home spa-style treatment or could directly help with exposure to endless Zoom calls and the blight of maskne could still thrive. Searches rocketed  for example for Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and retinol serums and blue light treatments.

The pandemic has clearly presented a huge challenge for the beauty industry. Online sales won’t make up the huge shortfall in terms of in-store purchases and it will take a long while before many retailers can recover, with a distinct risk that some outlets could disappear for good. But, with stronger ecommerce sales and an ability to adapt to the demands of the day, the industry has at least shown its strength and flexibility in the face of trying times.

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