Discover the virtual reality secrets of Jeju Island … Beauty gets intelligent, natural and personal

June 28, 2017

How will you look in 2018?  Throw away your mass-market skin creams, make-up and hair colour … it’s time to go beyond average, to be personal, to be experimental, to be natural, to be you … From intelligent mirrors to 3d-printed colours to suit you, tattooed brows and fragrance for clothes, its time to rethink the beauty world.

Beauty markets are evolving rapidly – high growth in countries such as Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, and China (not forgetting the large but stagnant markets like USA, Japan, and UK). Increasingly global, Brazil is now the world’s largest fragrance market, whilst skincare inspiration continues to come from South Korea.

Here are some of the big trends and innovations:

Natural, organic, real

Think waterless solutions, re-fillable make-up products and plant colouring. With the conclusion of Greenpeace’s Detox campaign in 2020, brands are encouraged to eliminate all toxic chemicals from their products and production processes. In the beauty industry, brands are looking to planet friendly ingredients and manufacturing methods, as well as raising awareness around environmental challenges with engaging and transparent campaigns.

In fragrances, aromatherapy is embraced as a more natural, sensory route to wellness. These are particularly popular in South Korea and Japan. The Scandi trends of Danish “hygge” cosiness, and Swedish “hagon” distressing, also shape these ideas of mental balance.

In haircare, “natural” means both natural styling (curls are good) and natural ingredients (healthy, organic, and non-damaging). There is also a cross-over to food trends, with coconut water being a popular ingredient in shampoos.

All of this challenges the old beauty concept of celebrity endorsement which seems less personal, and less authentic.

Nature and science come together as products seek more functional benefits too –  protection against age, chemicals and heat, whilst also a new generation of hair products include anti-pollution and anti-UV features. These are particularly popular in China where scalp care is seen as the route to hair health.

  • Example: Aromatic by Neal’s Yard and Sony
  • Example: Hanbang shampoo from Korea with traditional herbal medicines
  • Example: Dyson Supersonic intelligent hairdryer avoids heat damage
  • Example: Rituals, and The Ritual of … Collections


Diverse, ethnic, choice

Brands are already developing product ranges that service a more diverse set of needs and skin tones. From the L’Oreal campaign for the visually impaired to leading cosmetic brands expanding their foundation colour range to cater all skin tones, in the next 5 years we will see a lot of movement to celebrate diversity.

In fragrances, age segmentation is a big theme, in particular for babies and tweens (10-15). In make-up Benefit has targeted this tween space with great success. Aspirational make-up brands like Mac are sought after by this group, whilst they are happy to play with low-price brands on other categories. Gender neutral, long-time led by CK One, is also a growing theme.

In hair colouring, the consumer used to buy out of necessity, as age produces greyness, requiring lasting colour applied in a salon. Today, the growth trends are in youth markets where experimentation, multi colours and regular change are demanded.

In the growing muslim audience, consumers seek halal ingredients, and equally prefer to apply fragrance to their clothes or jewellery rather than their skin. Given the damage to skin, this could be a trend more generally. Other brands targeting ethnic audiences include MuslimGirl with their niche boxes.

  • Example: Body Shop Black Musk Perfume Oil targets ethnic markets
  • Example: Vixen Hair Graffiti targets the youthful experimental market
  • Example: Romy Paris Figure “beauty assistant” has just launched
  • Example: Innisfree instore VR headsets take you to Jeju Island, famed for its purity


Intelligent, online, playful

With genetics testing creating bespoke offerings, which will largely be delivered online, the physical retail space will take on a different kind of role, focusing on education, events and entertainment to drive footfall into stores. Last year, Charlotte Tilbury launched the virtual “Magic Mirror” in London’s Westfield store, serving as an assistant tool to try make-up looks. For the skincare sector, partnership with wellness experts and mindfulness sessions are trending.

In physical terms, we like to have more choice, building up a fragrance wardrobe, choosing different colouring each day to match moods and fashion. Like craft beer, it is more interesting to explore different brands and flavours, rather than being loyal to one.

Influencers, beauty vloggers and tutorials, have a strong voice, particularly in youthful markets. Some influencers, like Michelle Phan, the world’s most followed Youtuber, launched their own curated subscription brand Ipsy, which then commoditises its branded contents.

Digitalisation has largely taken off in make-up with a host of apps, websites, devices and more. Like at the beauty counter, choosing colour needs to be fun, which is exactly what digital mirrors and apps like Loreal’s Make-up Genius have achieved. Play and then press buy.

As people like to mix and match, packaging size declines. Fragrances in roll-on sticks rather than bottles, to make it easy to carry. And shrinking to more travel size, from 50ml to 10ml.

Sampling is reinvented, for example by Birchbox, requiring subscribers to pay $9.99 a month for a small box of samples curated for them, and sharing in their follow-on purchases.

  • Example: HiMirror detects skin blemishes to advise a daily routine
  • Example: Nail Revolution has embraced “scan and match” in nail colour
  • Example: Sephora instore Instapcent booths to explore scents
  • Example: L’Oreal’s Make-up Genius and partnering with Snapchat


Personal, healthy, scientific

The new personalisation is based on genetics – products personalised to fit into every aspect of the consumer lifestyle and DNA become ever more important. Inspired by the health and wellbeing trend, consumers will receive a list of scientifically selected skin care ingredients for them, recommended based on their DNA analysis that can be done with a cheek swab (creepy or cool? you decide).

Being individual and projecting it matters more – anyone can project themselves to the world. Think about the hunt for unusual fashion, music or food. Individuality drives a desire for experimentation. However whilst millennials are the “selfie” generation, they are driven by sharing and togetherness. Talking of selfies, face definition is a fast growing sub category in make-up, creating natural sculpting though use of highlights and tutored application.

South Korea continues to be a major inspiration for more scientific minded approach to beauty. K-Beauty is regarded as high performance, but also with fun packaging, scientific backing and affordable prices. Building on the past success of concepts like BB Cream in skincare, it continues to drive inspiration across the world.

  • Example: Byredo comes unnamed with stickers to personalise
  • Example: Tony Moly, a Korean brand, is distributed by Sephora
  • Example: YouCam Makeup with John Paul Mitchell
  • Example: eSalon in personalised hair colour

Sources: GSK, Mintel, Trendwatching, WGSN, and others.

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