NEWS > 11 November 2021

E-commerce and retail: is the relationship possible?

In these months, the Beauty Prestige sales among distribution channels have been radically transformed by new consumers’ habits and needs. The rapid growth of e-commerce, already in evolution in pre-pandemic times, but irremediably favored by the lockdown period, has underlined different dynamics in the online and offline channel. According to many, these are incompatible, but over the months, the market has been highlighting the synergies between the two channels.

The selective perfumery is one of the segments that best highlights the symbiotic relationship between online and offline sales. Sylvie Cagnoni, Beauty Head of NPD Italia, has outlined the global evolution of the relationship between e-commerce and retail during the round table “BEYOND THE E-COMMERCE: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN THE NEW WORLD ERA” organized at OnBeauty by Cosmoprof the past 9th September.  

E-commerce and retail: is the relationship possible? image 2

“For Prestige perfumery, 2020 has been a very difficult year, but 2021 is showing across-the-board recovery rates in all regions on a global level”, stated Cagnoni. Among the rising countries, the US, which are registering a growth of 35% compared to 2020, already with a +1% compared to 2019. In Europe, Spain and Italy are recovering quickly, with respectively a growth of 37 and 31%. The only exception is Germany, with a -19% compared to 2020: this is due to the country procrastinating during the lockdown until June. Compared to 2019, Germany is the country that suffers the most, with a loss of 35%. 

“During the pandemic, e-commerce allowed to partially compensate what had been lost in the brick&mortar”, continued Cagnoni throughout her contribution. We have had great accelerations in countries where the e-commerce was less developed, but also some progressions in countries where historically this channel was already going strong, with double-digit growths. In 2021, the spread of e-commerce slowed down especially in countries where the brick&mortar recovered more quickly: in the US, e-commerce is maintaining constant levels, in Spain and Italy the growing levels have slowed down. In these countries the physical channel has in fact returned to pre-Covid levels, regaining its role as reference channel for perfumery purchases.”

Different is the situation in the UK and Germany, for example: here, the penetration of e-commerce has more historical roots, because the channel was already developed in the months preceding the pandemic. “Today, we have reached a very high level, especially in the UK, with 50% of the revenue of the selective perfumery generated by online purchases: this, however, also represents a negative figure, as it derives from a situation of weakness of the retail channels, more than from an total success of e-commerce”, highlights Cagnoni. “Once this situation of crisis related to restrictions has passed, it will be necessary to return to more sustainable levels for the category.”

Spain and Italy complete the European context, with the lowest penetration percentages mostly caused by the peculiarity of distribution establishments, but also by the considerable digital delay. “Overall, the penetration of e-commerce has very much changed and remains globally varied, on the basis of each countries’ characteristics. What is certain is that the on- and offline worlds are complementary, and will become more and more connected thanks to the new consumers’ multi-channel habits”, concludes Cagnoni.


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