Survey of Sales

We've made it through the biggest retail season of the year, but that's no reason to chill out on sales strategies for spa-goers chilling out in the treatment rooms. Knowing what your clients are likely to buy can help keep retail sales booming through the winter lull. A recent TABS Group (a consumer products analytics firm) study surveyed 1000 women and 250 men between the ages of 18 and 74 on the types of beauty products they purchase, frequency of purchases, and the outlets they patronize. Participants were also asked to share their thoughts on ongoing beauty trends and the influence of social media on their purchasing decisions. Here are key findings worth noting:

Online Beauty Gurus are Replacing In-Store Advisors Only 24 percent of heavy buyers indicated that they prefer to shop in stores with in-store beauty advisors. It's likely that buyers are increasingly turning to online beauty advice that they access through social media. 42 percent of heavy buyers say that social media is very important in making their purchasing decisions. Cosmetic blogs (29%) and YouTube (23%) were the most popular resources among these involved buyers.

'Tis the Season for Cosmetics Shopping A number of cosmetics segments see a surge in sales around Christmas. Cosmetic kit sales increase nearly threefold during the holidays, and sales of both nail polish and lip products increase over 1.5 times more than average. And retailers can be comforted by the fact that 50 percent of these sales increases occur during the week of Christmas—further evidence that the gloomy Black Friday reports were off-base.

Don't Ignore the Men While women are obviously the primary target demographic for cosmetics—with 86 percent purchasing cosmetics in the last year—retailers shouldn't ignore the importance of men. Men are also active cosmetics buyers: 30 percent of male participants stated that they had bought cosmetics in the last year. Not surprisingly, 58 percent of those men purchased cosmetics for their spouse.

Millennial Women, $75k to $99k Income Group, and Hispanics are the Most Involved Millennial women between the ages of 25 and 34 purchase the most cosmetic products, an average of between 9 and 10 product types per year. Hispanic women also show higher involvement than other ethnic groups, purchasing more than 8 product types per year.

Specialty Beauty, Online Retailers, and Department Stores Attract Heavy Buyers While mass retailers were the most popular outlets for cosmetics buyers overall (57 percent of cosmetics buyers reported shopping at Walmart and 32 percent reported shopping at Target), specialty beauty stores, online retailers, and department stores are more successful at attracting heavy buyers (shoppers that regularly purchase more than 10 segments). Only 39 percent of Walmart's regular buyers are heavy buyers, while heavy buyers account for 69 percent of Sephora's regular buyers, 61 percent of online cosmetic retailers' regular buyers, and 58 percent of department stores' regular buyers.

Don't Count on Loyalty—Attract Heavy Buyers with Good Deals While heavy buyers are valuable targets—purchasing 4 times more brands than light buyers and accounting for 58 percent of all cosmetics purchases—they don't show any true loyalty to specific outlets or brands. In fact, most heavy buyers purchase more than 4 brands regularly. The most effective way for retailers to get heavy buyers through their doors is to offer great deals. 57 percent of heavy buyers and 59 percent of medium buyers state that good deals are "very important."

The Economy is Rebounding, One Manicure at a Time The survey's findings about an increase in women visiting nail salons could be a sign of increasing consumer confidence. 45 percent of women get their fingernails done at a salon, 42 percent get their toes done at a salon, and 31 percent said that they visit the nail salon more frequently this year than last year compared to 26 percent going less often. Furthermore, the more vs. less spread was even more pronounced with light cosmetics buyers, as twice as many go more vs. less (42 percent vs. 19 percent).

What's most surprising to you about these results?