Ten years ago, strolling around Boots on a Saturday afternoon was a favourite pasttime of mine. I savoured every swatch from the makeup counters, devoured the latest launches and excitably filled my basket with bargain finds. I looked to the magazines for advice and suggestions, awaiting with bated breath to come across the ‘next big thing’. My friends and family were a source of knowledge, regularly recommending the products that really made a difference to them, while my Advantage Card points were saved patiently until it was time for a well deserved spree. Only the most advertised brands were on my radar, stumbling across them on prime time television slots, whilst department stores offering was simply intimidating and complicated. Although many of this may still be true for some, the way many of us shop for products has completely changed – thanks to the rise of the internet and the ever increasing presence of blogs. No longer do we have to rely on only a handful of beauty editors for advice, but a plethora of ‘real people’ with real experiences and real opinions. No longer are we limited to what’s available on the high street, with e-commerce opening up a whole new platform from which to purchase. No longer do we buy off the back of a television advert, but wait to see pictures of the product in action and a testimonial from someone we trust. The internet has revolutionised the way we buy our beauty products and I couldn’t be more pleased.
It’s predicted that we’ll be spending £56.7 billion on the web by 2019; it’s becoming more normalised than popping to the corner shop for a bottle of milk. Even before I started this blog I’d buy replacement foundations and concealers online, as I could never be certain they would be available on counter when I made the thirty minute drive to find out. (I wrote a post about why buying beauty online is a better idea than you probably think here) According to research conducted by CEW and The NPD Group in 2013, 57% of beauty users now shop for deals online – with online beauty sales up 19% from the year before. Over 88% of consumers are 88% more likely to seek online reviews for items they want to purchase, with 82% being more likely to make purchases online. That’s a huge shift in only a few years, illustrating our demand for not only better products and better value, but better performance for us individually.
Blogs have opened up a two way conversation between beauty enthusiasts that never existed before. Other than writing a letter and hoping it was published in your favourite magazine, there was simply no access to ‘experts’ or those that knew more than you about foundation. Makeup counters were all about pushing sales rather than providing advice and ensuring an informed purchasing decision was being made, while learning how to create a smokey eye was done through step-by-step photographs in Shout magazine. There was little way to discover a revolutionary new product unless it had a huge budget to advertise in Elle, Vogue or Cosmo, nor were the smaller brands getting the recognition or customer base they deserved. Websites such as this frequently talk about niche products, newly launched brands or secret must-haves that you’d never know about otherwise; we’ve opened a whole new platform that allows even the smallest of brands to achieve cult-like status. We have voices that we’re not afraid to use… And people listen to us.
This digital age has given the beauty industry a much needed boost; there’s a definite thirst for newness, for products to meet our every need and for formulas that really do what they promise. A day doesn’t go by without making a new discovery, or stumbling across a product you never knew how you lived without – the internet has made that possible. Thanks to online beauty retailers such as Beauty Mart, Look Fantastic, HQ Hair and Beauty Bay, we have access to everything we could ever want and have it land on our doorstep within 24hrs. The barriers that used to exist (stockist limitations, location, shelf space, replenishment) simply don’t impact us in the way they used to; we demand more and the industry has stood up and taken notice.
I love the fact that it’s now possible to discover everything from bath tea infusions, to handmade soaps, play-doh scented perfume and amazing quality makeup brushes at the click of a button. Blogs have completely built brands from the bottom up, thanks to their unrivaled support and praise, meaning it’s so much easier for the big name high street brands to start stocking them. Real Techniques, Makeup Revolution, Charlotte Tilbury and Eyeko, among many others, would undoubtedly not have achieved their huge success if it wasn’t for bloggers championing their products. Illustrating online demand for a product (through reviews, sales, social media presence) really helps brands to make waves when approaching the likes of Boots, Superdrug, Selfridges and House of Fraser – if they can illustrate there’s a passion for their brand already, then half of the journey is already completed.
Social media has also played a huge role in the changing landscape of the beauty industry. Having a voice with which to talk to customers not only helps them understand your brand, but develops a relationship that ensures said brand is top of mind when they need to make a purchase. It’s a natural and fundamental human need to form relationships, so brands with which we can relate and talk directly to will naturally be top of the pile. Being able to go behind the scenes of a brand, understand the best way to use a product, have questions answered or even complaints rectified makes such a difference – but none of this existed even five years ago.
The internet has revolutionised the way in which we perceive beauty, research products, establish conversations, make purchases and even form connections with brands. We’re much more likely to buy online, we’re expanding out of our (somewhat boring) set brand portfolios and we’re getting excited about skincare again. I’m truly thankful for the evolution and have no doubt the digital world in which we live will continue to grow and transform into something unrecogniseable in ten years time. Who knows what we’ll be doing or what we’ll be buying, but I’ve no doubt it’s not been invented yet.
How has the internet and bloggersphere changed your relationship with beauty?
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