The beauty industry is the perfect blend of science, creativity and self-expression and, as such, it’s continuously evolving. External factors influence this evolution: the pandemic and changing consumer needs vastly accelerated the growth of beauty tech, for example, and at-home beauty tools.
Brands of every size are developing innovative new products, tools and tactics and this is integral to their success. Every beauty company must now be extremely innovative and forward-thinking in order to compete in a rapidly growing industry. Sticking to traditional strategies and refusing to move with the market is the fastest way to fall behind.
So, how is the beauty industry changing and what innovation can we expect to see?
One crucial shift within the industry has been the move towards beauty inclusivity and overcoming historic discrimination in cosmetics and skinscare. Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, launched in 2017, set the standard for inclusivity by debuting a makeup line with 40 foundation shades, prompting other brands to follow suit. Inclusive shade ranges are just one piece of the beauty equality puzzle - diverse campaigns and listening to consumers are among others - but this progress is very welcome and long, long overdue. And consumers will reward brands for inclusivity as seen in the success of Fenty Beauty, estimated to be worth $2.8 billion.
Other beauty brands driving progress include Credo Beauty, a clean beauty retailer with strict protocols around packaging, sustainability and transparency for its brand partners, which was named as one of Fast Company’s top ten most innovative beauty companies of 2021. There are many brands working within the rapidly growing clean beauty space, defined broadly as using safe, non-toxic ingredients, and often overlapping with a sustainability ethos. This is another big movement within the beauty industry: it’s estimated that the global clean beauty market will reach $22 billion by 2024.
Being conscious of the impact of cosmetics, both individually and on others, is seen in the greatly increased focus on eco-friendly and vegan products and business models. From the rise of plastic-free shampoo bars and reusable makeup remover pads to the growth of vegan cosmetics scales, ethics and sustainability have become an increasingly important area of investment. With one in three UK consumers claiming to have stopped purchasing certain brands or products due to ethical or sustainability concerns, according to recent research from Deloitte, this is another industry shift beauty brands can’t afford to ignore.
Of course, there is a great deal of exciting innovation within beauty technology. Businesses like Dermalux Flex MD are exploring new products to promote skin health - their LED therapy device is designed to stimulate the skin’s natural rejuvenation and repair processes for better, healthier skin. At-home beauty tech like microdermabrasion devices have particularly enjoyed a boom due to successive lockdowns and restrictions on beauty treatments.
But tools that consumers use directly is just one part of the beauty tech story. Beauty tech is helping brands establish a deeper, more meaningful connection with consumers and build brand loyalty. It’s behind the growth of personalised marketing that sees beauty brands use their data and innovative technology to learn about consumers’ individual preferences and so provide products and support tailored to them.
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This allows cosmetics companies to take the physical experience of going into a beauty store and translate it into an equivalent online experience, suited to consumers’ evolved digital needs and expectations. The development of AR and VR technology, enabling virtual try-on tools, also supports this move from physical to digital and puts paid to the myth that beauty transactions require in-person interaction.
Engaging with consumers digitally also involves pursuing social media and influencer marketing and although these areas are already well established, we should expect to see them grow still further over the coming years. New social media channels and platforms allow for new brand opportunities and with consumers becoming more channel agnostic, there’s a need for cosmetics companies to employ omnichannel marketing strategies and run integrated campaigns.
The beauty industry is continuing to expand in exciting new directions with innovative new products, models and technologies. But although some brands may more actively push boundaries than others, it’s up to every company to embrace innovation and be pioneers of change. Stasis isn’t an option if brands want to stay successful.
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