Daily Insights

The Top 10 UK Beauty Brands in Digital

By: Maile McCann | Jun 19, 2020

E-commerce in the U.K. beauty market remains deeply fragmented across digital pure-play and high-street retailers. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted rapid changes in beauty-specific consumer behavior and increased interest in skin care. The top ten brands in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty UK 2020 adjust search strategies to changing realities, efficiently segment marketing plans amongst retail partners, and pivot content codes for emerging social media formats.

1. Charlotte Tilbury
Digital IQ: 147

A top performer across e-commerce channels, Charlotte Tilbury achieves Index-leading visibility in color cosmetics and complexion categories on Feelunique. With improved web authority and strong traffic growth year over year, the site is well integrated in the consumer journey and also boasts strong guided selling assets on its direct-to-consumer (DTC) site to help move shoppers down the purchase funnel.

2. Dior
Digital IQ: 136

Dior outperforms the Index in email marketing, driving a high volume of clickthrough traffic to site from brand emails. The luxury brand climbed over 2019’s top YouTube performers, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Garnier, for the best YouTube performance in the Index in 2020. It also shined with the top Index performance on The Perfume Shop, where it cascades robust olfactory images and text from its brand site to its owned fragrance product pages on the retailer.

3. Clarins
Digital IQ: 132

Index-leading search and navigation capabilities on its desktop site paired with category pages offering product “quick views” and links to both how-tos and product finders help Clarins cinch the third spot in this year’s Index. The beauty brand achieves high visibility through Showcase Store ads on Google search and is a top performer on Facebook, boosting its score on the platform 13% year over year and maintaining a strong engagement rate in addition to a large community of over 2.6 million. 

3. Benefit Cosmetics
Digital IQ: 131

Benefit Cosmetics outpaces the Index average in every dimension of digital marketing, including SEO/SEM, display and email marketing, increasing year over year performance by 9%. Additionally, the brand is a strong performer within influencer marketing, earning numerous mentions on high-engagement posts from UK mega influencers Jamie Genevieve and Laila Loves. 

5. L’Oréal Paris
Digital IQ: 129 

A top performer in mobile display ads, L’Oréal Paris boasts year over year improvement driven by video campaigns on mobile that saw six times the total interactions compared to the Index average. The brand’s strong performance on YouTube also played a part in its success, with 19 of its videos from 2019 receiving over a million views each. L’Oréal Paris finishes off with a strong third-party checkout process on its desktop site, complete with the capacity to buy products from multiple retailers.

6. Elemis
Digital IQ: 126

Elemis earned its spot in the top ten thanks to a strong performance across its numerous specialty retail and department store partners, where its range of clean-clinical skincare sees high page rank and visibility. Additionally, Elemis leads Index skin care brands in guided selling assets on site, featuring robust blog content optimized for high-volume skin care search queries. 

6. MAC Cosmetics
Digital IQ: 126

The second-highest performer in the Index on specialty retailer lookfantastic, MAC’s eyeshadow and lip products contribute to high ownership and page rank via on-platform search. Top performer in mobile Google SEO/SEM against nonbranded complexion and color cosmetics keywords. 

8. Glossier
Digital IQ: 123

Glossier glowed up from the Average class into both the top ten and Gifted category in this year’s Index. The brand balances its social media spend well across platforms, seeing strong performance on both Facebook and Instagram, as well as a high number of mentions from UK-based Instagram influencers and MUAs. It also invests in robust display ad campaigns on mobile, with both static and video campaigns to support its product launches.

8. Urban Decay
Digital IQ: 123

Urban Decay boasts strengths in both site and social, with a robust loyalty program on its brand site featuring expedited checkout and special offers for members. The brand leads the Index in Instagram performance, drives high engagement in feed, and is one of the most active Index brands on Instagram Stories.

10. YSL Beauty
Digital IQ: 122

Moving up eleven positions into the top ten this year, YSL saw steady improvements across all dimensions. In particular, the brand features a seamless checkout process on site, as well as consistently high visibility across retail partners on both fragrance and color cosmetics on Boots, Debenhams, The Perfume Shop and lookfantastic, optimizing the consumer’s path to purchase across digital touchpoints.