European buyers are snapping up beauty products around twice as fast as buyers worldwide, business-to-business online marketplace Alibaba.com reported on Monday, even as consumers in these markets face tightening budgets.
Germany (27%), France (24%) and the United Kingdom (19%) saw significant year-on-year growth in the number of beauty and personal care sector buyers on Alibaba.com in 2023.
Demand from businesses in these countries far outpaced the 12% worldwide rise in beauty sector buyers observed by the platform last year.
“The recent growth in number of buyers of lipsticks, nail products and other makeup items on Alibaba.com both in the UK and EU markets is encouraging and shows the sourcing strength of the platform in these categories,” said Roland Palmer, General Manager of UK, Benelux and Nordics, Alibaba Group, in a statement.
At last count, Alibaba.com’s global B2B e-marketplace hosts around 200 million products, 200,000 suppliers and 40 million buyers, including a growing cohort of European businesses.
Beauty and personal care is the platform’s fourth-largest product category and part of a wider global beauty industry that will top $580 billion in annual retail sales by 2027, according to consultancy McKinsey.
The sector is resilient even in the face of broader economic headwinds.
“Consumers are increasingly looking for wellness and affordable luxury to feel good even in challenging economic times,” Patrick Kuehl, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Alibaba.com Germany, said in a statement.
Beauty industry analysts dubbed this phenomenon the ‘Lipstick Effect’ – they note that even in the midst of budgetary tightening, buying a new nail polish shade or skin serum can be a small but mood-boosting indulgence for many shoppers.
Bringing the Salon Home
Consumers are also turning to DIY solutions to meet their beauty demands at a lower cost, from kitchen table French manicures to actives-packed facials on the couch.
In 2023, the number of Alibaba.com users searching for nail art supplies increased by 35.7% worldwide year-on-year. Professional-level nail equipment also rose in popularity with sales up 59% last year compared with the year before.
“Demand for DIY beauty products has increased significantly as consumers look for affordable goods that deliver salon-quality results,” said Kuehl.
Skincare gurus are also pampering themselves at home more, with a particular focus on powerful and natural ingredients.
On Alibaba.com, there has been a 55% rise in interest in functional skincare sets, which emphasis result-backed formulations, and a 126% spike in sunscreen product demand.
“With the beauty industry projected to maintain its growth trajectory through 2024, Alibaba.com is well placed to support buyers tap into those trends, boost business resilience and drive growth,” Palmer added.