Over the past years, beauty brands have increased their direct-to-consumer (DTC) operations to compete with Amazon and other major retailers — and to strengthen their customer relationships. Still, just 17% of US online adults have purchased cosmetics or makeup products directly from a brand or manufacturer, per Forrester’s Retail Topic Insights Survey, 2023.

In our just-published Digital Go-To-Market Review: Beauty Brands, 2024, we reviewed 26 brand websites across the attributes that are essential to their long-term success. Here are some of our key findings:

  • First, brands need to establish a direct relationship with consumers. Fewer than two-thirds of the beauty brands we reviewed enable DTC sales. To compete with major retailers, it’s crucial to have a well-executed website and features that capture valuable customer information. At a minimum, brands must ensure that the site experience is at least as good as anywhere else a shopper could buy their products online.

Examples: Rare Beauty brings products to life with content tailored to consumers (different lash types, skin tones, and skin types), before-and-after comparison photos, and how-to videos. Charlotte Tilbury uses its tiered loyalty programs, with exclusive discounts and incentives, to deepen the consumer relationship and develop repeat customers.

  • Second, brands must rigorously protect their presence online. Just three of the 26 brands had a warning about counterfeit goods or guidance on how to recognize legitimate products. According to Forrester’s Q1 2023 Global State Of Brand Manufacturers Survey, conducted in partnership with Vorys eControl, 50% of brand decision-makers surveyed say that online marketplaces are growing faster than their traditional wholesale business. Brands must enforce strict governance for distribution and pricing, ensuring that their products are authentic and authorized for sale.

Examples: Summer Fridays has a page dedicated to authorized retailers, which includes details about its relationship with Amazon. Tarte provides instructions on how to avoid and also report counterfeit products.

  • Other features of the best brands include innovation and consumer enthusiasm. Fifty-six percent of US online adults say that they are always willing to try or do new things, per Forrester’s Consumer Benchmark Survey, 2023. Therefore, it’s important that brands feature fresh products, add-ons, solutions, and changing content on their sites. Many beauty brands did well in innovation by continuously launching new products and exploring lateral categories (e.g., cosmetics to skincare). Additionally, many leveraged the power of social media and influencers, and wisely so. One in five US online adults’ primary way of finding new brands and products is through social media influencers, and 15% follow beauty influencer content specifically.

Examples: On its home page, Tarte includes user-generated content of trending products through shoppable videos. Tarte also regularly hosts extravagant, all-expenses-paid influencer trips (#TrippinWithTarte) to boost product awareness.

See also our earlier 2023 Digital Go-To-Market Review reports: luxury fashion brands, apparel and footwear brands, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. Questions? Let’s connect. Schedule an inquiry or guidance session with us!