Amazon Dives into Beauty with Belei

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Amazon Dives into Beauty with Belei

By Patrycja Malinowska - 04/15/2019

As online beauty brands continue picking up steam, Amazon moved to grab more share of the category last month by launching its first dedicated, private label skin care brand.

Dubbed Belei, the brand promises “no beauty secrets, only beauty solutions” and comprises 12 initial items including moisturizers, serums, eye creams, cleansers, masks and spot treatments ranging in price from $9 to $40.

Similar to emerging independent clean skin care companies that are driving sales across the sector, Belei promotes ingredient lists free of sulfates, parabens or phthalates, instead touting trendy ingredients such as vitamin C and charcoal. The brand also positions itself as environmentally friendly with white and green, 100% recyclable packaging.

“We took a no-nonsense approach when creating Belei, developing products with ingredients that are proven to deliver results and also offer customers great value for the quality,” Amazon head of beauty for private brands Kara Trousdale said in a media release.

Though the company most often takes a stealthy approach to brand launches, this time Amazon threw a press event in New York City attended by media editors, beauty influencers and former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo. Paid media support seems to have been limited to one post by influencer Marianna Hewitt, while earned media support included coverage by media including refinery29.com, people.com and engadget.com.

Amazon is not flooding its search results with its new brand, though the line does seem to have taken over the “Recommended for you” bar on the retailer’s skin care page. Amazon also is supporting with social media updates as well as display and search ads on its site that link to a dedicated storefront. Visitors can browse by product type as well as by skin solutions (hydrate, refine, brighten, clarify and sun protection) or skin concerns (fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, dullness, acne and pores).

Amazon already sells some skin care items as part of its Solimo label. In Europe, the company this January also started selling private label cosmetic products through the Find label. “When you have treasure troves of competitive sales data at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you leverage that information to develop your own brand with the products and price points your customers want?” marketing consultant Sabrina Yavil told BeautyIndependent.com. 

Amazon also carries plenty of both mass and Indie beauty brands, even elevating the latter with a dedicated Indie Beauty Shop that calls attention to emerging brands and their stories while offering clear navigational tools to help visitors find the categories they are looking for. E-commerce shifts the balance of power to smaller brands: While the top 20 cosmetics brands capture 90% of dollars going to brick-and-mortar retailers, those same companies capture just 14% share online, according to Nielsen's "The Future of Beauty" study.

Seven out of 10 beauty shoppers (71%) say that Amazon is their top destination to purchase beauty products, according to the “Stella Rising Glimmer Report – Searching for Beauty.” The survey found that two-thirds (65%) of beauty shoppers use Amazon to search for their specific brand of beauty products, and 63% use Amazon to search for a category of beauty products such as makeup. In addition, one-quarter of respondents say they use the navigation bar to find their preferred brand and product. According to the survey, three quarters of respondents (75%) state they read product reviews; 60% read product descriptions; and, 44% look at product pictures and visit various sites to comparison shop.

Consumer spending on beauty products has shifted online faster and greater than nearly every other packaged goods category, with nearly one in three dollars spent on beauty products in the U.S. today spent online, according to Nielsen's aforementioned study. Notably, however, it's not Amazon but specialty retailers like Sephora and Ulta that have powered much of the early online beauty growth.

Amazon’s health, personal care and beauty revenues rose nearly 38% to $16 billion last year, eMarketer reported.

NOTE: Path to Purchase Institute members can view more Belei images and dive deeper into Amazon's private label strategy at p2pi.org