Etsy Buyers and Sellers Offer Skin Care Companies Insights into Consumer Trends

Founded just over 10 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, Etsy is an e-commerce site that offers online consumers the ability to buy and sell unique handmade and vintage items ranging from custom birdhouses to vintage wedding dresses. Among the myriad of products sold on the site, shoppers will find a wide array of bath and beauty products from around the world. With low startup costs and access to ingredients and beauty rituals from many different cultures, the sellers and their products are diverse and cater to many different issues and body types. Analyzing what topics make up the conversation and how they change over time, provides skin care companies with valuable insights into which skin care trends are worth pursuing and which ones are losing consumers’ interest.

Over the past year, over 200k Tweets were written specifically about skin care products on Etsy. Excluding three spikes in conversation that occurred on November 21st, 27th, and December 3rd of 2014, the conversation has remained relatively constant. During this time period, the total post volume increased by 7%, and 9% of the conversation is categorized as basic positive and the remaining 91% as basic neutral.
Top Hashtags highlight the most popular products being sold and purchased on Etsy. Hashtags identify posts discussing a variety of popular skin care trends including #handmade (+30k), #soap (+25k), and #vegan (+8.5k). These numbers mirror the trends seen in a Share of Voice chart that shows handmade, vegan, and shea butter contributing to the conversation. While the products that were most popular during the year are apparent, further analysis is needed to determine which trends are on the rise. An analysis of the shea butter, handmade, and vegan Etsy conversations highlights what skin care companies can learn from the e-commerce Twitter conversation.     
Skin care companies can measure the popularity of specific ingredients. Coconut oil, sandalwood, aloe, beeswax, and cocoa butter have all been popular ingredients in skin care products. This is especially true in those that market themselves as all-natural, organic, and cruelty-free. Shea butter is also a popular ingredient that is mentioned in roughly 10k Etsy skin care Tweets, making up 5% of the total conversation. While this is a small proportion, the total post volume has risen 33% over the past year and 16% of the conversation is categorized as basic positive. Even greater variety is evident in a Word Cloud that highlights popular additions to shea butter products including lavender, almond, strawberry, and ginger.

Skin care companies can also analyze the product qualities that are most important to Etsy buyers and sellers. The popular hashtag #Handmade has generated a conversation of over 52K Tweets and has only seen a slight decline in volume (10%) over the past year. Similar to the shea butter conversation, it is clear that there is great variety in the conversation although “gift” and “gift set” appear as dominate keywords. Tweets like the one below, authored by celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D, help to stimulate the conversation, drawing Twitter users attention to handmade products.

Another product quality that may be of interest to skin care companies is the exclusive use of vegan ingredients. Interestingly, the conversation surrounding vegan skin care products has decreased by 67% over the past year. Although negative sentiment is largely absent from the conversation and almost 17k Tweets were written about vegan products and ingredients, the severe drop in volume suggests that vegan products are not as popular as they once were. However, this declining trend does not necessarily discount natural and organic products, which may be growing in popularity.  
Not surprisingly, the total Etsy skin care conversation is 88% female and 95% of authors fall into the 35 and above age category. This audience is interested in many different types of crafts and related topics. They are 278 times more interested in jewelry making, 157 times more interested in sewing, and 54 times more interested in home decorating than the general Twitter audience. These demographic features and interests match those that skin care companies would expect, Twitter users who are interested in skin care and have disposable income to purchase goods or interests in beginning their own skin care business.
With the right tools, skin care companies can use social media data to track a wide variety of consumer trends, from in demand ingredients to popular buzzwords. Before designing and testing products and consulting focus groups, brands can find out what products are likely to sell and which ones will flop. Incorporating the ingredients and product qualities that attract Etsy sellers and buyers, can help larger retailers maintain their dominance in the market. Dropping fading fads like vegan products from ingredient lists and marketing campaigns will allow brands to concentrate their efforts on skin care elements that lead to stronger campaigns and more customers. Finally, when brands find highly successful and on-the-rise online entrepreneurs, they can create partnerships that contribute to sales by reaching out to an ever-changing and ever-expanding market.

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