Name brands once ruled the beauty landscape. But with consumer focus gradually shifting from the outside to the inside of products, indie brands are finding success on Amazon, despite legacy labels starting to make better use of Amazon-specific marketing levers.

Independent brands Aztec Secret and Thayer’s join drugstore staples like Gillette in the top five category leaders for Beauty & Personal Care, according to L2’s Amazon Performance Rank, which benchmarks brand performance on the platform. Success on Amazon is heavily linked to visibility, search terms, and customer reviews — a major difference from the offline world, where a beauty product’s chance of being bought depends largely on packaging. Instead of competing for the best-looking display, brands on Amazon are optimizing based on what they expect shoppers to ask for.

An emphasis on natural ingredients is one factor that keeps independent brands like Aztec Secret, which boasts “six-month sun-dried clay from Death Valley” as its prime component, consistently on the best-seller list. Millennials make up the largest generation in the US, with $1.7 trillion in spending power, and when it comes to beauty, they are more and more interested in products derived naturally. More than half of product searches begin on Amazon, making the platform an ideal place for skincare brands to highlight ingredients that can perform well in search.

Other brands have taken note of shoppers’ penchant for products unfettered by flashy packaging. E-commerce grocery startup Brandless recently entered the beauty market, while digital startup Function of Beauty allows shoppers to create their own shampoos and conditioners. Their simple packaging reflects a beauty climate that is slowly evolving from label-laden to function-focused.

Daily Insights in Your Inbox

Edit your preferences or unsubscribe