Having led the marketing strategies for a number of high-profile beauty brands, from skincare to fragrance, I’ve seen consumer attitudes and power shift dramatically from year to year. This remarkable industry is filled with conscious consumers wanting businesses to make change, and we are now seeing beauty brands listening to these demands. 2019 will continue to follow the path of ethical beauty which has been on the radar for the last few years, but will also see some new approaches from brands striving to further this effort to become sustainable, yet effective. Here are my predictions for trends to look out for in 2019.
The Trick to Transparency
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the wellbeing trend hit hard; bridging the gap between natural beauty, an abundance of quinoa recipes and morning sessions of ‘zen-ing’ yoga. Consumers have been buying into a wellness lifestyle, however the mindset is now shifting. Excuse the analogy, but much like free range eggs, organic and natural products are no longer a trend, but instead, an expectation. And this is also true with regards to price. As Mintel identifies, price continues to be an important factor in choices about organic and natural products. Nearly four in five consumers who don’t choose green products avoid them because they cost more money than mainstream alternatives, with forty three percent of non-users thinking “green” products are a marketing scheme.
Transparency now goes beyond the ingredients and claims, but also seeps into the marketing strategy. Perhaps, controversially, with the introduction of #Ad, I believe that the “influencer generation” is on the decline. Savvy consumers are seeing through the glossy, highly-funded façade, and are looking towards genuine reviews, created by real people who have actually purchased, used and then taken the time to share their opinions on the product.
This consumer attitude towards sustainable, ethical and transparent beauty is also starting to focus towards the actual product itself. Although natural and organic beauty has been on the rise for the last couple of years, we now starting to see consumers focus on water content, favouring the “waterless” beauty brands and products, with the understanding that they are both more ethical and effective. Watch this space for brands introducing waterless formulations.
Cleaning Up Your Act
Sustainable beauty has never been more important. The conscious consumer is no longer willing to compromise and for good reason. Brands such as Lush are embracing the “sub-zero waste” movement, disposing of product packaging from point of purchase. Brands which aren’t yet able to adopt this approach have started looking for more responsible alternatives to their plastic bottle and tubes, using glass where possible and encouraging upcycling, or using plastic alternatives, such as sugar cane. How eco-friendly these plastic alternatives actually are still remains questionable, but David Attenborough’s Blue Planet has pushed this issue to the forefront and made brands question their CSR strategies.
This holds some correlation to the transparency trend. Having bought into the westernised K-beauty movement, consumers are starting to question why their regime seems never-ending and consists of 10 different steps, at minimum. This is where streamlines beauty steps up, offering an all-in-one solution to all of our beauty needs, without compromising on efficacy.
Customers are no longer satisfied with just a “mascara” or a “day cream”, they want to invest in a brand which is going to transform their life. Something which is going to make them be what they want to be. With the new generation relying so heavily on technology to get that perfect “Instagram” look, it won’t be long until consumers start adding technological, demonstrable alternatives to their regime, particularly in East Asia. And that’s the key. Demonstrable. People are drawn to action and immediate, visible results – patience, unfortunately, is no longer a virtue.
Education, Education, Education.
With so much choice on the market and with it all being so accessible, we are slaves to the consumer. They want the best and they will make sure they get it. Mintel highlights that over 54% of beauty-buying Brits will now research products online prior to buying them. On the train journey home, rather than reading a spot of Jane Austen, they’re checking out how NikkieTutorials achieves that flawless complexion. When at home, flicking through the TV guide, a brand on a shopping channel catches their eye and before you know it, they’ve pressed “select” on the remote and have started noting down tips to baffle their friends with on Whatsapp. Everyone now considers themselves to be a beauty therapist or make-up artist, regardless of their day job. Play to this need of self-fulfilment and demonstrate to them how they can achieve their desired look at home. It’s human nature to always want to learn more, so this is where you can get your power back as a brand – by being the one to educate them.
The Rise of the Underdog
Beauty is no longer just about aesthetics, it’s about experience and discovery. Fortunately, we are also in a generation of entrepreneurs all wanting to support one another. New brands are starting to emerge and dominate, exploiting their versatility, creativity and personality giving beauty buffs a plethora of products to trial and review. Whilst consumers are on a journey of exploration, they are favouring smaller, indie brands which in turn, is having a knock-on effect in retail, with large stores fighting to be the destination for discovery.
Patriotism is a trend which I think we take for granted. When Brits do something well, we are proud. But this requires taking a gamble and being proactive rather than reactive. With the country currently experiencing political chaos, we are forgetting what we’re actually good at. However, regardless as to what happens with Brexit, those brands which are manufactured in the UK not only maintain a strong position from an ethical standpoint, but also potentially a financial one if Brexit were to happen. Essentially, if you are a British brand, then shout about it because you have a population of potential consumers who can all relate to you.
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