Hair Loss loses out on eBay Australia, while the UK and US cover it up with Wigs

The Hair Care category shows surprising differences between the US, UK and Australian eBay marketplaces, and traditional retail.
Guest post by Norrelle Goldring. Norrelle has 20 years’ experience in retail, category, channel and customer strategy, marketing and research, working in and with global retailers, manufacturers and research houses.


Hair Care is a diverse category, encompassing:

  • Tools, such as brushes, combs, dryers, rollers & curlers, straightening irons, hair ties and accessories

  • Aesthetics, such as hair extensions and wigs

  • Everyday maintenance, eg shampoos, conditioners, treatments

  • Styling products eg gels, waxes and clays, and

  • Specialised treatments such as hair loss and medicated preparations.

Australia is about Styling, whereas US & UK are about Extensions & Wigs

When we look at the eBay listings for Hair Care, the subcategory with the majority share (70%) of listings in the UK and US is Hair Extensions and Wigs. In Australia this is only 42%. Instead, Australia over-indexes on Styling Products at 20%, versus 3 to 4% for the other two markets.

Share of Hair Care listings by sub-category on eBay AU, US and UK

The mix of listings by traditional retailers varies dramatically to that of eBay

Within the Australian market, Coles is one of the largest grocery retailers, while Chemist Warehouse is one of the largest pharmacy/drug store retailers. Both sell on eBay Australia.

While eBay on the whole skews to Wigs and Extensions, Coles and Chemist Warehouse’s Hair Care listings are a reflection of their brick and mortar product ranges. That is, 75% of Coles’ Hair Care listings are Shampoos and Conditioners, as are 46% of Chemist Warehouse’s. However, on eBay AU this subcategory is only 7%.

Styling products are the second largest subcategory for eBay overall with around 20% listing share. Coles is not too dissimilar at 24%, but Chemist Warehouse has only 11%.

Hair loss treatments, given their increased category trend and size, are surprisingly minimal at 2% of eBay overall, and 0% for Coles and Chemist Warehouse on eBay.

Share of Hair Care listings on eBay AU and two eBay AU stores (owned by two of Australia’s largest retailers)

Shampoo & Conditioner rule the AU Roost, whereas Hair Loss dominates the UK & US

When we compare sales value across AU, UK and US we see that shampoo and conditioner have substantially more share of sales in AU, despite having the fewest brands and substantially fewer sellers than either the UK or USA.

AU appears to be selling more Premium Products than US or UK

In Shampoo & Conditioners, the average sale per product for the top 100 ranked listings is $46, versus £11 (AUD$20) in the UK, and $28 USD. This would indicate that the more premium brands are what are selling on eBay in Australia.

Australia has almost equal sales value of Shampoo and Conditioner as Hair Loss. In the UK, Hair Loss and Hair Extensions dominate sales, and the US skews even higher to hair loss with nearly 40% of past 30 day sales value. There is an opportunity to push hair loss treatments in Australia further, given its ageing population.

Hair extensions, however, appear to be selling more cheaply per unit in AU versus the US and UK.

The UK and AU appear to be over-served by styling brands, with circa 50 brands represented for sales less than half those of the USA. With regards to actual sellers, AU appears to be under-represented, with only half the number of Styling sellers as the UK or USA.

Conversely, in all three markets there appear to be many sellers (74 to 87 per country in the top 100 listings) for brushes and combs, considering their very small (circa 5%) contribution to total Hair Care category sales value.

In general, AU seems over-served by brands in most Hair Care categories versus the US and UK.

Overview of Hair Care categories, using the last 30 day sales of the top 100 best match ranked listings in each subcategory and marketplace.

Shampoo & Conditioner brands selling are not found in Traditional Retail

The highest selling brands on eBay are not those abundantly available in retail. They are more likely to be professional (read: hair salon) brands, and particularly about remediating colour-damaged hair.

Fanola, particularly No Yellow and to a lesser extent No Orange, is the standout. L’Oreal’s Matrix comes in at #2 due to the strength of its Biolage, Colour Obsessed, and Megasleek ranges.

Consumers and hairdressers alike appear to be embracing eBay for specialty hair products.

In Summary

In Australia there are opportunities to:

  1. Push hair loss treatments harder, given the ageing consumer trends and category sizes in the US and UK

  2. Premiumise (upsell and increase spend on) hair extensions and wigs, given the propensity to premiumise on basic haircare products

  3. Increase colouring listings and conversion for Coles and eBay.

Source: ShelfTrend data as at March 2019.

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