Tablets give Beauty Brands a New Canvas.

Tablets’ touchscreens create opportunities for hands-on experiences for consumers, and a platform for brands to showcase products. The content that beauty consumers devour in magazines—such as tutorials, product reviews and diagnostic quizzes—are ripe for the interactive opportunities that tablets can provide, according to a new eMarketer report, “Beauty and the Tablet: Creating New Ways for Beauty Consumers to Try and Buy.”

In 2011, there were 23.2 million US mobile shoppers using tablets. By the end of this year, that number will jump to 94.2 million, eMarketer estimates. And as tablet adoption continues to rise, mobile shoppers using tablets will total 146 million by 2017, representing nearly seven out of 10 digital shoppers.

A survey from the Online Publishers Association compared product research with product purchase by category among tablet users in March 2013. OPA found that while the percentage of those who purchased personal care and beauty products was only 17%, that number was higher than in other categories, such as food and beverage, and health, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. In addition, the gap on tablets between the percentage who researched vs. the percentage who bought was among the narrowest for the personal care and beauty category.

Although the number of tablet shoppers is rapidly increasing, and mcommerce sales are also rising fast, it is important to keep the numbers in perspective. A March 2013 study from marketing companies SheSpeaks and Lippe Taylor found that just 8% of surveyed female internet users most often made purchases through a mobile device or tablet.

Purchasing via tablet may be nascent, but beauty industry experts say that ecommerce is just one function offered by the device.

Research via tablets is becoming more ingrained for many users, even as sales remain relatively small. “We see this every time we launch a new product,” said Alessio Rossi, vice president of digital marketing for ecommerce and customer relationship management (CRM) at Lancôme. “There is a lot of engagement, and there is a lot of [tablet] traffic that occurs online, but not as many transactions.” Customers are more likely to make replenishment beauty product purchases via the tablet.

Beauty consumers crave content: the how-tos, the reviews, the before-and-afters, the “What is my best lipstick color?” quizzes. This type of content is being consumed increasingly often on tablets.

“The tablet is becoming the ecommerce tool,” said Caroline Grange, international digital and ebusiness director for cosmetic brand Makeup Forever. “For us, it’s an investment in our future buyer.”

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