Predicting trends in the cosmetics market is not the easiest of tasks for a brand manager. Nonetheless, the competitive advantage provided to a brand that predicts, or indeed drives, a new trend is immense. Over the past few years, a reliable indicator for the future of cosmetics has emerged in a category traditionally treated as separate: food.
Currently, the global cosmetics market is broadly driven by two consumer needs: personalisation and naturalness. Personalisation used to be solely about basic needs like ‘oily’ or ‘sensitive’, but is now becoming increasingly segmented by gender, ethnicity and lifestage (e.g. age, pregnancy). ‘Natural’ used to have enough meaning to engage the consumer, but now consumer calls for increased specificity are leading to more sophisticated claims like ‘Paraben-free’. However, these further developments in personalisation and naturalness are causing problems for cosmetics brand managers. Disengaged consumers are jaded by naturalness claims while making increasingly individual demands.
The main problem for brands in their attempt to meet these two consumer needs of personalisation and naturalness stems from unresolved tensions within the cosmetics market. At Coley Porter Bell we have identified three tensions: natural versus scientific; minimal versus maximal; functional versus emotional.
The clash between natural and scientific revolves around the twin demands for naturally sourced, herbal treatments and technologically advanced laboratory solutions. Although not necessarily mutually exclusive, they represent very different approaches to the market. The claim of bareMinerals that “it’s make up so pure you can sleep in it” is in stark contrast to Voss Laboratories’ Amatokin that proudly champions its “unique polypeptide compound” based on stem-cell technology.
The distinction between minimal and maximal refers to the use of cosmetics to achieve a flawless natural look or to decorate with colour. This contrast has been particularly pronounced in 2011 with brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein adopting a pared back approach while John Galliano and Louis Vuitton currently favour a more glammed-up approach.
The division between functional and emotional refers to the divergent role of cosmetics as something that treats (e.g. moisturising cream) or something that adorns (e.g. lipstick). As with the tension between natural and scientific, functional and emotional concerns are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Some products currently on the market, such as Bite ‘Natural Food Grade’ lipstick, attempt to do both.
Whether for the mind or the body, the unifying concept that we believe can help address these tensions is nourishment. More specifically, it is ‘outer’ nourishment with its focus on what is applied to the body externally as cosmetics. This may be contrasted with ‘inner’ nourishment with its focus on what is consumed by the body through diet. However, even this distinction is slowly being eroded as food terms like ‘organic’, ‘fair-trade’ and ‘halal’ proliferate on cosmetics packaging. This overarching concept of nourishment has formed such an inextricable bond between cosmetics and food that food trends are now leading the way for personalisation and naturalness in cosmetics.
At Coley Porter Bell, we have identified nine food trends that we believe will feature prominently in cosmetics in the future.
1. Transparency: explicit, quantifiable front of pack ingredients possibly with a nutritional key.
2. Guidance: ‘healthy-aging’ (like ‘healthy-eating’) rather than ‘anti-ageing’.
3. Functionality: multi-purpose products addressing a variety of needs.
4. Convenience: cosmetic ‘snacking’ on-the-go.
5. Sustainability: production quality linked with product quality.
6. Provenance: product source linked with product quality.
7. Nutrition: entrance into ‘nutricosmetics’ (beauty drinks/foods) by major cosmetics players.
8. Revivalism: nostalgia for ‘good old days’ reviving past ideas of glamour.
9. Connectivity: aps/sites following personal recommendations (e.g. MAC ‘Shop Together’).
By carefully using these trends to nourish the consumer needs of personalisation and naturalness, cosmetics brands will not only be able to be on-trend, but will also be able to lead and sculpt the very future of beauty.