When the UK went into lockdown, “the cosmetics business pretty much disappeared over night” according to Coty's general manager of consumer beauty in the UK & Ireland, Nick Sedgwick.
While pharmacies remained opened, cosmetic areas were largely sealed off. This, coupled with people no longer feeling they wanted or needed to wear makeup, left the industry in freefall.
According to data from McKinsey & Company, at the heart of the crisis in the UK a net balance of 47% of consumers said they planned to cut back on make-up and skincare purchases. Sales at L'Oreal fell by 7.7% year on year in Western Europe, while at Coty net revenue was down 23.2% for the three months to the end of March.
One area was booming, however: online. Statista estimates online beauty sales rose 60% during April and May.
Two areas in particular were experience strong growth - hair and nails. As salons shut, people turned looked to create the experience at home with DIY manicures and hair treatments.
Retailers struggled to keep up with the huge bounce in demand. This led Coty to consider how it could get its products direct to consumers.
To do that, it created its first ecommerce site, the Home Beauty Edit. It only sells haircare brand Clairol and nail brand Sally Henson, offering them in 'bundles' including an 'at home salon' and 'manicure essential' set.
The launch, says Sedgwick, demonstrates how "agile" Coty was forced to become during Covid-19. From conception to going live took just three weeks, with only three people responsible for launching the business.