In Retail, Trend

A recent Harris Poll examined 2000+ Americans’ shopping habits for beauty staples show that consumers have embraced online shopping, but for purchases in the beauty category brick-and-mortar stores still rule. However, the real driver is price, with 9 out of 10 shoppers responding that once they find a product they like they’ll buy it wherever they can get the best price.


  • 30% of those who shop for cosmetics prefer to do so in a store because “they like to have an associate show them how to use the cosmetic product.”
  • When purchasing a product for the first time, 66% said they were more likely to make these purchases in store rather than online.
  • 91% of consumers buy shampoo, conditioner, and hair styling products in person.
  • 87% of shoppers buy sunscreen in store.
  • 89% of shoppers buy multifunction products with SPF in store.
  • 90% of cosmetics are purchased in store, and 23% of those sales happen in specialty beauty stores.
  • “Big box” retailers are the top purchase locations for hair styling products (59%), shampoos/conditioners (59%), non-sunscreen products with SPF protection (57%), sunscreen (56%), and hair color products (51%).
  • Cosmetics see the most variety of purchase locations with a breakdown of pharmacies (39%), department stores (23%), specialty beauty product merchants (23%), and online specialty beauty merchants (22%), after “big box” retailers (50%) for cosmetics.


  • 57% of beauty and grooming shoppers like the instant access to consumer reviews online.
  • Online mass merchandisers are the most popular online channel for the majority of products surveyed with the exception of cosmetics.
  • Total online purchases are most popular for cosmetics (40%) and facial/skin care products (34%).
  • Around 3 in 10 also turn online for hair styling products (29%), hair color products (28%), and non-sunscreen SPF products (28%).
  • Online channels are less popular for sunscreen (22%) and shampoo and/or conditioner (17%) purchases.
  • 16% of product purchasers say they’re buying more from online mass merchandisers than they were 2-3 years ago.

Read the full press release from The Harris Poll.


Photo: Heidi Sandstrom via Unsplash

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