Maile McCann

Hey, I'm Maile McCann! I'm an experienced research specialist and writer with both qualitative and quantative analysis skills. I'm adept in digital best practices (social media strategies, digital market, Google search, etc.), performance benchmarking, and journalism.

Ulta Finds Clean Authority via Credo Beauty Partnership

As highlighted in Gartner’s “Assessing the Opportunities of Clean and Wellness in Beauty and Personal Care” report, Sephora and Target have a headstart in cementing their statuses as clean authorities in the beauty and personal care spaces, respectively. With programs highlighting brands that follow strict ingredient standards (e.g., no phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, etc) via product badges or icons, Sephora and Target communicate clear standards of clean product credentials to consumers.

Color Cosmetics’ Unhappy Holidays

Given color cosmetics’ slowed sales growth in both the United States and the United Kingdom, this year’s holiday season was critical for increasing color brands’ bottom lines. Unfortunately, according to Gartner analysis of Rakuten Intelligence data, fourth-quarter online color cosmetics sales in the United States declined 1% on Sephora and Ulta, whereas skin care and fragrance online holiday sales both grew 9%, year over year.

Beauty US: Specialty Retailers and Amazon

Core beauty categories are changing and retailers are shuffling investments accordingly. The category’s largest segment, color cosmetics, has experienced slowed sales growth across the last year, and the changes have hit prestige brands particularly hard. Skin care, in contrast, is a bright spot — particularly for specialty beauty retailers trying to secure a piece of the pie amid increased investments from department stores and Big Box retailers like Target. Despite category shifts, the hold that Amazon, Sephora and Ulta have over the online beauty market continues to grow – the three retailers accounted for 44% of online beauty sales in 2019, up from 38% the previous year. Category changes are forcing brands to re-evaluate where to place their bets online, particularly given the category strengths that each retailer possesses.

Beauty US: Supporting Assortment Within Increasing Competition

The online sales growth of color cosmetics has slowed but skin care has spiked. After Amazon, Ulta and Sephora have the highest online sales of skin care. On these must-win specialty retailers, skin care’s sales have increased year over year. In the past, ingredient-focused products played a large role in skin care’s overall category growth, with brands like the ingredient-first TruSkin Naturals consistently winning top placements on Amazon’s Best Sellers. However, as skin care growth continues to expand across brands and price points, sales have moved past ingredient niches and into ancillary, second-step product subcategories like serums, treatments and masks. When planning how to best support varied assortments across retail channels, brands must play to online sales trends as well as retailer and category nuances.

r/SkincareAddiction’s Verdict on Sunday Riley

Sunday Riley has seen the power of Reddit’s popular beauty-focused subreddit, r/SkincareAddiction. In October 2018, a former employee of prestige skin care brand Sunday Riley outed the brand on SkincareAddiction for requesting that employees post “fake reviews” to products on Sephora. The user also linked to an email allegedly from a company executive on how to avoid having those reviews “get traced back to (Sunday Riley’s company) IP address.” One year later,, the FTC ruled that the brand had,

Beauty US 2019

Amid what was feared to be a “retail apocalypse” during the last several years, beauty remained a bright spot in part due to a swarm of new market entrants and product innovations in the color cosmetics category. While innovation in color cosmetics brought short-term gains, consumer preferences are shifting. Both traffic to color cosmetics brand sites and the search volumes for category keywords have declined, forcing legacy brands to identify pockets of growth. In the place of waning consumer interest in color cosmetics, skin care has skyrocketed. Brands are trying to secure a piece of the pie yet face increasing competition from smaller indie brands on core retailer websites.

Hair Care & Color US: Search Opportunities

As consumers have put their dollars behind ingredient-focused hair products, they’ve similarly changed their hair-focused search behavior. Search volumes for hair keywords mentioning ingredients grew 95% since the fourth quarter of 2015, with long-tail ingredient keyword strings like “sulfate paraben and silicone free hair products” seeing especially high growth. Moreover, upper-funnel education keyword strings (e.g., “how long does semi-permanent hair dye last”) grew 15% during the same period. With search interest rising for both ingredient terms and upper-funnel education queries in care, color and styling, brands must learn how to cater to an increasingly intelligent consumer in search.

L2 Digital IQ Index Hair Care and Color US 2019

E-commerce penetration in the hair category, though well behind other beauty categories, is growing at a promising clip. In the professional space, foot traffic and in-store sales in salons continue to decline, forcing professional brands to offer products through online channels to reach both hair professionals and replenishment shoppers. In the consumer space — historically dominated by mass hair brands — a growing subset of prestige brands bring higher-priced, niche product lines to market, hoping to capture buyers looking for products to maintain hair health between salon visits.

Amazon Performance Rank 4Q18: Hair Care

As the Amazon ecosystem grows, the platform's hair care category offers brands more opportunities, but it remains a fragmented market with few clear winners. New opportunities on Amazon for hair brands include Amazon’s traditional marketplace, the Luxury or Professional portal and Prime Pantry. The Gartner Amazon Performance Rank 4Q18: Hair Care Report explores Amazon strategies for hair brands on the platform. These strategies address allocating media spend on Amazon, offensive and defensive strategies for Luxury and Professional hair brands, and both the potential and risks of Prime Pantry. “Amazon Performance Rank for Hair Care Brands” was updated on 1 April 2019 to reflect Gartner’s position in the Maple Holistics section.
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