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Published April 7, 2021
Published April 7, 2021

A recent survey from Klarna of 15,000 shoppers across the US was designed to identify how shopping behaviors within the beauty sector have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Klarna’s beauty survey has uncovered new consumer insights and trends that beauty brands should keep in mind as they plan their strategies for the rest of the year,” said David Sykes, Head of Klarna US. “For example, a key learning is that shoppers across all generations agree that brand values play a significant role in their purchasing decisions when shopping their favorite beauty items.”

  • 40% of Gen Z and 31% of Millennials say diversity and inclusion is the most important brand value to them when shopping for beauty products.
  • 31% of Boomers value sustainability when shopping for beauty products.
  • Many respondents don’t plan to shop for beauty any differently once the COVID-19 vaccine is available to them, but younger shoppers are most likely to return to brick-and-mortar stores (Gen Z: 30%, Millennials: 24%, Gen X: 24%, Boomers: 22%).
  • Roughly 67% of those surveyed said they preferred to shop in-store for beauty items versus online before the pandemic started.
  • Broken down by demographic, 41% of Gen Z, 40% of Millennials, 31% of Gen Xers, and 31% of Boomers said skincare was the product category they currently spend the most on. Haircare was the second-biggest beauty spending category among shoppers of all ages.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, a skincare regimen has been the number-one activity that respondents have incorporated into their health and wellness routines, cited by 33% of shoppers surveyed. Other activities incorporated include at-home workouts (23%) and vitamins and supplements (22%).
  • The majority of Gen Z and Millennials prefer to discover beauty items on social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. In contrast, older generations largely favor retailers’ beauty apps, with 40% of Boomers saying they spend the most time looking for beauty tips and inspiration on brands’ mobile apps.

In additional research, Klarna surveyed over 41,000 shoppers across the US to understand the pandemic’s lasting impact on consumer spending behavior.

“Shoppers miss the physical elements of the in-store experience that can only be offered in a brick-and-mortar setting, like fitting rooms. However, they also have new expectations around what the in-store shopping journey should look like,” said Sykes. “Our latest research shows that safety will remain a top concern for consumers, even as the world reopens, so retailers must adapt their in-store experience to provide shoppers with greater confidence and peace of mind. Buy online, pick up in store options, contactless payments, QR codes, and safety features as simple as hand sanitizer are simple solutions proven to resonate with today’s shoppers.”

  • Only 36% would like to see beauty and wellness product testing return.
  • Safety precautions will be the top priority for nearly three-quarters of consumers (74%) shopping in-store, even when the country opens up more widely. Deals and discounts are also an important draw for 73% of those planning to shop in brick-and-mortar stores this year, followed by fast and convenient pickup and returns (63%), and the availability of customer service (46%).
  • The top reasons shoppers head to physical retail stores are to touch and try on products (79%), purchase products instantly (67%), browse and discover new products (56%), and return items quickly (34%).
  • The ability to purchase and return items quickly is more important to Millennials and Gen Zers than it is to Gen Xers and Boomers .
  • 77% of shoppers would like hand sanitizing stations permanently adopted by physical retail stores. 21% of shoppers would also like temperature checks to be integrated permanently in-store. Meanwhile, a significant proportion of older shoppers would like plastic barriers to remain at checkout (46% of Boomers).
  • When it comes to in-store technologies, contactless payments, and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options are overwhelming favorites. 81% of shoppers agree that the availability of BOPIS has improved their shopping experience and 61% said that contactless payments have also elevated their experience in physical stores. The majority of shoppers would like BOPIS options adopted permanently by retail stores (77%), along with contactless payments (62%).
  • While only 48% of respondents have used QR codes while shopping, 79% of shoppers who have used the technology, either online or in-store, say that it improved their shopping experience.
  • 91% of shoppers expect brands to offer both online and in-store shopping experiences, and 87% expect brands to have a mobile app.
  • 83% of shoppers say that they would shop in-store at their favorite online-only brand if the brand were to open a brick-and-mortar store in their area.

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