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 continues to decline, forcing professional brands to offer products through online channels to reach both hair professionals and replenishment shoppers according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Hair Care & Color. 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 has capitalized on these market changes by bolstering its assortment of officially distributing prestige and professional brands. Over the past twelve months, both salon stalwarts, such as Matrix and John Paul Mitchell, and growing prestige brands, such as Moroccanoil and Living Proof, officially launched on Amazon. In June 2019, Amazon unveiled its Professional Beauty Store, which provides gated product offerings for salon professionals and stylists that pose a direct threat to traditional brick-and-mortar beauty supply stores.
In parallel, Amazon increasingly prioritizes profitable products over those with unfavorable ship-to-weight ratios. As such, the e-tailer has decreased promotion of low-margin, mass consumer hair brands on its primary marketplace, Amazon Prime. Instead, it silos ASINs from brands like Pantene and Head & Shoulders onto Prime Pantry. In the first quarter of 2019, enterprises with the highest share of hair care product listings on Prime Pantry accounted for the lowest share of category Best Sellers—indicating that sales prospects from Pantry are less promising than the overall marketplace.