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Landing’s Biggest Beauty Retail Insights of 2021

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With the economy still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was an interesting year for beauty retail. While the industry is rapidly changing, retail shows no signs of slowing down. Here are a few of our experts’ top insights from this year. 

Brick & Mortar is Alive and Well: When COVID first hit last year, experts worried that it would spell the end of physical retail. But if 2021 has proven anything, it’s that brick and mortar is not dead. Based on our conversations with beauty buyers and retail founders alike, brick and mortar experienced a huge resurgence this year and is expected to continue growing, even as e-commerce sustains its gains from 2020. As Oliver Garfield, CEO of CosBar noted in a panel with our CEO earlier this year, retailers are now considering how the two channels can be developed with totally different value propositions so that each maintains its strength. 

The Line Between Mass & Prestige is Blurrier Than Ever: This was the year of the beauty retail wars, with powerhouses like Ulta and Sephora joining forces with mass partners to increase their customer base and retail footprint. With Ulta partnering with Target and Sephora partnering with Kohl’s on shop-in-shop concepts, 2021 showed us that there is no longer such a stark distinction between the prestige and mass beauty categories. While luxury beauty brands continue to be protective of their ultra-premium positioning, it will be interesting to see how the growth of the new masstige category permeates the rest of the industry in 2022. 

Sales Associates are the New Brand Ambassadors: During the pandemic, many brands struggled to adjust their retail training strategy to the challenges of limited in-person contact. The results were clear: without training, sell-through wanes. Given the crowded digital beauty landscape and growing distrust of online endorsements, more and more customers are seeking out the expertise and personal recommendations of sales associates. With this in mind, we developed the Landing Training Tool: a new digital-first education platform that makes training more engaging, fun and easy for indie brands and sales associates alike. For more information, click here. 

The Definition of Clean Beauty is Rapidly Evolving: With customers turning more attention to climate change and social responsibility, clean beauty is no longer just about avoiding potentially toxic ingredients. With no clear industry standards or definitions for what it means to be clean and conscious, the onus will be on brands to prove that they meet a larger code of ethics, including sustainable practices, ethical sourcing, responsible supply chain, and inclusive company culture. With these changes in mind, Landing created Clean PreCheck, a new online beauty tool that automatically analyzes product ingredients to see if they meet retailers’ clean beauty standards. Plus, coming soon: a new methodology for brands to see how they stack up in the shifting conscious beauty landscape. 

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