While Sephora has asserted its dominance in the US beauty market in stores and online, it faces tough and persistent competition in the UK. L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty UK finds UK Beauty e-tailers to be in an arms race, consistently ramping up efforts to intercept shoppers on the purchase path. In the absence of a dominant player like Sephora, FeelUnique, allbeauty, and lookfantastic all compete for visibility. Leaving little room for brands, they own 72% of paid search results for branded Beauty terms – up from 66% last year. Amazon is competing with these players as part of its overall aggressive expansion plan for the UK and has doubled its visibility for branded terms year-over-year and. As of now, it accounts for 20% of paid search results compared to 9% last year.

It is still unclear who will win the race, but FeelUnique has the advantage as it recently raised £20 million in funding to fuel global expansion. Its content – hubs like “The Lounge” and “Backstage Makeup” which post how-to videos and educational articles –  clearly differentiates it from the pack. It also offers discounts with “Subscribe & Save” and economy-sized products that incentivize consumers to purchase more.

Meanwhile, allBeauty and lookfantastic are bidding aggressively on branded search terms on Google.co.uk in hopes of intercepting traffic from brand sites and directing it to their own. Competition becomes even more intense considering the retailers have similar offering: 96 brands overlap between the three.

 

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