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Amazon plans October beauty sale to hook early holiday shoppers


Amazon employees load boxes with orders at the company’s fulfillment center ahead of Cyber Monday in Tracy, Calif.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amazon plans to hold a beauty products event in October in an effort to lure early holiday shoppers and boost the company’s position in a booming category, according to documents reviewed by CNBC.

Amazon provided a slide deck to selected beauty brands that stated the company plans the Oct. 4-25 event. Similar information was provided to consulting firms, which help Amazon’s businesses.

The slide deck stated that Amazon wanted to attract customers back to Amazon on Black Friday, but also in the long-term with more marketing tools. The slide deck states that this is a rare opportunity for brands to connect with more shoppers as well as new customers.

Amazon spokesperson Catie Kroon has confirmed the authenticity. CNBC received an email from her confirming that next month’s event will be called the “Holiday Beauty Haul”. She also said that there will be a variety of products on the website, such as fragrance, winter skin care, and men’s grooming.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has long been trying to gain a bigger share of the global beauty market, which generates $500 billion in annual sales. The company began offering health and beauty products in 2000, but its selection was initially limited mostly to mass-market brands.

The beauty market is of particular interest now, as consumers have flocked to the web to buy makeup and personal care items during the pandemic. Online makeup sales surged 40% in 2020 from a year earlier, while sales of “self-care” items such as shampoo, face wash products and lotions climbed 59%, according to market research firm 1010data.

According to one consultant speaking with Amazon, Amazon will use this event to promote holiday promos. Jed Rawson CEO, Pirawna’s e-commerce consulting company, stated that the company reached out to beauty companies in mid-August in order to get their participation in the event.

While largely stuck inside during the 2020 holiday season, Americans spent a record amount of money from their devices, according to Adobe Analytics. Adobe reported that U.S. online sales increased 32.2% to $188.2 Billion in November and December compared with a year ago.

In recent years, Amazon has expanded its “premium beauty” subcategory to include more high-end products and launched an indie beauty store to highlight new and emerging brands. It also rolled out specialized hair care sections and its own skin care brand.

Kroon stated that beauty was one of Amazon’s fastest growing categories and is “ripe to innovate” in terms of product discovery and presentation. Amazon “uniquely positions” itself to revolutionize the purchasing experience for beauty products online.

The October event could also help Amazon better compete with retailers such as Ulta Beauty and LVMH-owned Sephora, said Elaine Kwon, who previously served as a vendor manager in Amazon’s fashion category and now runs Kwontified, an e-commerce management and software company. The beauty industry is losing its share to Ulta and Sephora, as well as direct-to-consumer brands like Glossier or ColourPop.

Kwon explained that Amazon has attempted to expand its market share with more brands featured on the site. It also experimented with features such a “clean beauty tag”, which taps into emerging trends for sustainable and natural products.

Kwon explained that Ulta, Sephora, and Ulta had very, very well protected their customer base. This is Amazon’s attempt to reach those customers, and to give them an amazing experience, that will make them feel like they don’t need to visit Sephora to get all these items, but that Amazon can provide for them.

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