From flashy to sincere - the recent transformative trends of beauty marketing
The last three years were eventful, to say the least. Society has changed and so have its habits. The global cosmetics market was worth $380.2 billion in 2019, and by 2027 it’s estimated to reach $463.5 billion. Therefore it's essential for the beauty industry to understand the pandemic and post-pandemic changes in the habits of their users to understand what their expectations and the newest trends are. The industry has changed and the ways brands speak to - or rather talk with their users, have changed as well. Users got used to flashy, pushy marketing. What they want now is mindfulness, authenticity and transparency.
We’ve been watching the beauty industry closely, first, working with such brands as Pierre Fabre and now welcoming Hagi, a women-ran, family beauty brand as one of our newest clients.
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Wellness culture and death of hustle culture
Pandemic fatigue was something that hit hard not only those who got infected. When the world is on fire and spiralling out of control, the best you can do is to take care of yourself - of your mind and body alike. This is how wellness culture, to which the beauty industry was gravitating even before the pandemic, got so popular. In 2022 cosmetics are not only functional, but also they are an accessory to perform beauty rituals that are supposed to make us feel taken care of. Wellness culture is a rejection of hustle culture that puts emphasis on productivity. “This girl” took the place of “girl boss”.
The difference? In the hustle culture life was a project - you ticked off status symbols, one after another. Education? Check. Good job? Check. Hot body? Check. Relationship, corner office, children, travelling? Check, check, check. A girl boss is the one who has her stuff together and gets what she wants.
Wellness culture, counterintuitively is also a project, but the project is your physical and psychological well being. Hydration? Check. Journalling? Check. Yoga? Check. Workout, meditation, massage, therapy, aromatherapy, stretching, rolling, manifesting, green tea, palo santo, affirmation? Check, check and check. A this girl is the one, who is the best version of herself - put together, focused and calm.
Rituals was one of the brands that have foreseen this trend and they expanded their product range with teas, yoga accessories, scented candles and teas. The whole wellness culture stretches far beyond beauty industry - tracking apps, spirituality, science-backed mind-and-body-related techniques (from breathing exercises to painting your walls the right colour), you name it are a part of it, but the whole trend just asks beauty brands to step out of their core offer and help their customers become the best versions of themselves.
Transparency, ethics and focus on skin
Users in 2022 are educated and demanding. They had more than enough time to gain knowledge about the science of skincare, and they demand science-backed effective lists of ingredients and transparent supply chains. They use comparison websites and they listen to influencers, who break down the composition of creams and serums and discuss every single substance on their instastories.
The case of squalane is a good example here. It’s great for skin hydration, but it’s obtained from sharks’ liver, and therefore it’s a big no-no for environment-sensitive users.
The goal is to use products that are honest, science-backed and not messing up with mother nature. Brands, who want to cater to these new, educated users need to make sure their communication is clear and honest about their products.
A good example here is set by LUSH - in their product pages the brand explains where they get their ingredients from, how they work, why they work and how the company protects the environment. They use social proof - each of their products can be rated by the community. The Ordinary, on the other hand, chose to mimic pharmacy packaging, to put emphasis on the ingredients and to educate their clients in skincare science. Biossance decided to brag with their high standards by comparing their list of allowed ingredients with those of the most restrictive cosmetic markets - such as the European Union.
Sources: Facebook, lush.com, theordinary.com
Magic, nature and witchcraft
Magical motives became ubiquitous. TikTok is buzzing with the #crystaltok trend, everybody suddenly believes in tarot and Mercury’s retrograde became a new excuse for everything. When contemporary medicine fights an unequal struggle, the eyes of many turn to natural healing and traditional receptures. Everything “botanical” seems to be the product of knowledge passed down through the generations and many would rather trust a healer in a cabin deep in the woods, not a lab technician in a white coat.
For many brands that put emphasis on their natural ingredients and herb-based receptures, the new, esoteric aesthetic is a great visual context for their products. Why buy a nettle shampoo, when you can buy a forest witch nettle hair elixir - this way you get both a great hair product and a thrill of excitement.
Inclusivity and de-glamourization
Women got bored with flawless models and they don’t believe that what’s good for Karlie Kloss would be good for a regular woman. They want to see someone they can identify with in the ads. Dove had anticipated this in 2004 when they launched their "Real Beauty" campaign, and this trend has taken off a lot since then.
A great example of making a brand more relatable are campaigns launched by MCo Beauty. This Australian beauty brand decided to work with Celeste Barber - a comedian known for mocking pretentious images promoted by the fashion industry and fake reality created by influencers:
MCo Beauty’s idea is to make their marketing look like it’s something that your neighbour may post on social media, or like it’s something you can see on FaceTime with your bestie. Their make-up tutorials are done in a very casual way, often by girls-next-door. Women of all sizes, races and ages are featured in their videos, having fun with doing makeup. Birchbox, a subscription box beauty company, on the other hand, often invites indie beauty brands creators, who happen to be just regular women, like their users, to present their products.
Maddy Joy Bockett, MamaStylista for MCo Beauty (Source: Instagram), Baba Rivera for Birchbox (Source: Instagram)
Inclusivity in beauty marketing reaches far more than just to women of all ages, shapes and sizes, and it’s visible especially in how makeup became a mean to express oneself, regardless of gender. According to NPD’s iGen Beauty Consumer report, two out or five young adults (18-22 years old) are interested in gender-neutral beauty products and male makeup is slowly becoming mainstream (thanks RuPaul!).
Source: Instagram, @fluidebeauty
Personalization and femtech
According to Forrester's research, 77% of consumers chose, recommended, or paid more to brands that offered a personalised product or experience. Personalization allows customers to gain control and to develop an emotional commitment to the product. How to choose the best product out of thousands available on the market? Going through a difficult process of comparing them seems so overwhelming, that making them from scratch seems like an easier option.
For many companies personalisation is a business model. A good example for a highly personalised brand is Japanese Medulla. Medulla offers a shampoo that is prepared according to users’ specific needs. To prepare a special shampoo mix, a client receives a form with 10 questions regarding individual needs and preferences (such as fragrance or type of hair). The system is able to generate about 100 different combinations of variables and the product is delivered in a subscription model.
Many companies decide to harness AI and science to craft the best personalised products for their clients - such as Neutrogena, which decided to launch its Mask ID, a face mask designed to match active ingredients with the face areas that need special attention.
Personalization doesn’t always need to be that technologically advanced. Let's take a look at a tool introduced by the Dollar Shave Club brand - their website allows a user to complete a quiz consisting of 7 questions about your shaving habits and needs. Based on the responses, the system generates product recommendations.
Beauty brands seem to be confident in using technology to their benefit, there is however one exception: Metaverse. The whole nature of tangible beauty products that are meant to impact our earthly shell is in contradiction to everything the incorporeal, virtual Metaverse that can’t be touched or smelled, has to offer.
We see brands organising launch events for their new collections and creating NFTs inspired by their products or values, but that’s pretty much it. Despite overly-optimistic headlines, there is little connection between selling an NFT and selling a cream in real life and the best Metaverse has to offer to beauty brands is simply being a giant advertising pole, which is not really the retail immersion everyone is expecting.
A few years back the only routine we had was a day cream for the day and cleansing plus night cream for the night, that’s it, end of story. But then the Korean beauty industry told us we need more cosmetics and we need to use them in a very precise order. And this is how beauty routines were born.
Today the variety of products we have available may be confusing and the questions arise in the heads of our customers: when do I use a serum? Can I use it with a tonic? Is it allowed to replace tonic with a hydrolate? Answering them takes time and some level of beauty proficiency, and here is where beauty brands come to the rescue, offering ready-made beauty routines, educating customers, saving their time and convincing them to base their entire skincare on one brand.
Here are three brands that do it right:
Emma Lewisham - The brand offers two sets of skin care cosmetics - morning and evening routines. You can buy them with one click of the mouse, but you can remove products that are not needed from the cart before making the purchase.
Bolt Beauty - is a four-step cosmetic routine encapsulated, water-soluble, biodegradable drops. Bolt beauty not only offers an intuitive and simple routine, but also a revolutionary solution in the field of ecological and light cosmetics packaging.
True Botanicals - built its routines on cooperation with influencers. In the store you can buy, for example, Olivia Wilde Skincare Routine
It’s important however not to overshoot the opportunity here. Today’s routines shouldn’t be too elaborate. They are here to give guidance and to make a choice easier, not to overwhelm and to put pressure. Less is more and customers use quality over quantity and simplicity over routine overload.
Collaboration between brands is an effective and cheap way to reach new audiences. If we match the cooperation partner well, both brands can reach each other’s target group and strengthen the brand's image and values. An example of such cooperation is the joint GoPro and RedBull campaign, targeted at active people who like extreme sports or IKEA and LEGO, reflecting the family values of both brands.
Often the very fact of cooperation is seen as an interesting buzz-generating event, and the limited products that are a result of the cooperation become valuable collectibles. Here are examples of cross-brand cooperations between the beauty and food industries: Hershey x Etude House (eye make-up), Innisfree x Mentos (mineral powder) and Morphe x Coca-Cola (eye make-up):
Removing taboos on female biology is not a new trend, but today it goes one step further - we should not only not be embarrassed with the period talk, we should experience and understand changes in our body, and menstrual cycle and use it to your advantage.
In fact, the menstrual cycle is just the top of the iceberg of the female biology topics that get more attention. De-tabuization applies to topics such as intimate infections, the way the body changed during pregnancy, menopause, and even the psychological hardships of parenthood. In 2022 there are no topics that should not be discussed.
Beauty brands are still discovering how to include skincare into women’s natural cycles and how to use hormonal changes instead of struggling with them, but Hagi, Faace and Amareta are pioneers here, and we should all pay attention to their next steps.
Beauty trends come and go, but it’s important to understand their link to bigger ideas that circulate in society. Oftentimes the beauty industry mirrors what we think and feel, what we watch on Netflix, read about in the newspapers and social media and try in the kitchen.
Netflix’ “Euphoria” opened the door for glittery dream-like make up, newest microbiome research immediately translated into microbiome skincare and aging society led to a rise of brands such as Womaness - skincare for women who go through a menopause. And don’t get us started on the use of fermentation in cosmetics, and how beauty brands fell in love with kombucha - just like food brands did not that long ago.
Do you want to know what’s next in beauty marketing? Have your eyes and ears open for everything else!
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