The strongest message I took away from this year’s in-cosmetics Global Marketing Trends presentations was the need for beauty brands to think carefully about how they position and target their products.
Not having a clear strategy will definitely hamper brands’ ability to stand out in the crowded but hugely dynamic global beauty market.
From the 24 presentations over the 3 show days, I discovered 4 standout themes.
Understanding these will help beauty brands connect with the right target consumer and move their business forward.
1. Marketing Blur
Antoinette van den Berg, trend forecaster and founder of Future-Touch, discussed the need for brands to change their perception of who they’re targeting.
Beauty ideals aren’t fixed and change over time. For example, when Rubens painted voluptuous women, they were considered to be the pinnacle of beauty. Today’s beauty idea couldn’t be more different: women strive to look slim, toned, fit and sleekly groomed.
Another “ideal” is for women to base their looks (even subconsciously) on the Barbie doll, but it requires a lot of effort, intervention and money.
“It’s got all out of proportion – too big eyes, lips and tits, but that look has become ‘normal’”, said Antoinette. With illustrations, she showed that the Barbie-doll look is so common that some older women feel the need to do it too – yet they end up looking artificial and unrealistic.
By contrast, Antoinette has seen a new ideal emerging, thanks to the number of glamorous older models, such as nonagenarian Iris Apfel: she is making wrinkles acceptable, but in a glamorous way.
If this new idea catches hold amongst older women, then beauty brands need to sit up and take note.
Transgender or gender fluidity is an emerging trend, according to Antoinette: girls transitioning into boys and vice versa and both wearing make-up.
She commented: “The brands they use are the same as everyone else. There’s no need to target them separately.
“What brands should do is change their way of thinking – these are human beings with the same needs as everyone else.”
2. Halal Beauty
Butterfly London are experts in understanding consumer behaviour, especially those living in MEA and Asia.
Halal beauty is full of contradictions and if beauty brands are to engage with Muslims they need to create an emotional connection that is currently missing.
The first contradiction is that Halal is rooted in conservative attitudes and beliefs, whereas the beauty industry is all about drawing attention to oneself.
Complex Halal certification is a barrier to more brands moving into this space. This often leads to brands thinking that a Halal label would alienate non-Muslims.
Yet, many non-Muslims aspire to the same values promoted by Halal brands, such as pureness, honesty, connecting with local communities etc.
Halal beauty’s appeal could be so much wider if they were to reach out beyond the obvious target demographic.
3. Every Brand Should have a Beautiful Story
Beauty brands continually chase the latest new ingredients to work up into a compelling story.
Consider this formulation: rose, beeswax & honey, olive oil, lanolin, cucumber, almond oil, pearl, donkey milk…oh, and sulphur, placenta, poo, snail…
Not some new-fangled anti-ageing concoction, but found in a recipe from over 2,000 years ago by Ovid.
So what can today’s brands to do create stand-out and connect with the consumer?
Nick Vaus, leading partner and creative partner, Dew Gibbons + Partners, suggested three ways:
Brands using an ingredient as their name tend to be very clear and direct e.g. Jojoba Company, Argan Beauty, Maya Chia, Olivella. These brands have a strong provenance story.
By being first in, they become the authority, but there are challenges: their reach is limited if the consumer dislikes an ingredient; they can only go so far with NPD.
To succeed with an ingredient story, Nick proposed following the colour cues used by similar brands e.g. turquoise for Argan oil as in MoroccanOil and Organix.
Brands that stand for a particular ingredient (without using it in the brand name) e.g. Aveeno for oatmeal, Caudalie for grapes, Apivita for bee-derived ingredients, Haeckels for Margate.
“These brands aren’t wedded to one ingredient, but stand for a heritage story. It gives them greater flex for design and NPD,” stated Nick.
These would be bigger brands with any natural ingredients in their portfolio, such as Origins, Korres, Yes To…, Weleda, Dr Organics and Garnier Ultimate Blends.
For example, Korres can keep expanding, but only as along as their ingredients are sourced from Greece.
“Expansion is limitless and you can create your own destiny, but the risk is that a vast portfolio may lose relevance and take too long to find a product,” maintained Nick.
He warned: “Never forget where you came from. Brands panic and their portfolio gets fragmented.”
4. Permanence in a Trending World
In his book, The 4th Industrial Revolution, Klaus Schwab, founder of World Economic Forum, maintains that we are on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another.
Herbie Dayal, ceo & founder, KMI Brands Ltd, put forward the view that our response to being on the brink of something is to get busy. It’s what happened at the time of the big bang (1986), the TV revolution (1988) and the dotcom, boom or bust revolution (2000). “So 300 channels launched, but no one is watching. And in 2000, money was wasted on the ‘method’, rather than focusing on the business.”
Herbie sees the same happening now. “We all worry about these things but don’t know what’s coming next.”
So we sign up to the latest platforms, but does it make us better marketers?
We may have thousands of followers on Twitter, myriads of likes on Facebook, shares, downloads and “engagement” – but this doesn’t equate to money in the bank.
Herbie provided a checklist of areas to focus on, rather than jumping on the Next Big Thing. They include the brand DNA, understanding the customer, the basics of the business, including sales, margins, overheads, profits.
“How much do you spend on permanence versus trending (the ephemeral, the new)?
“Take the 1% challenge: only do it if it increases your gross margin by 1%”.
For further details on the in-cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations: http://www.in-cosmetics.com/education/cosmetics-marketing-trends/