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10 Concepts that will Drive the Future of Beauty Innovation

Mark Twain once wrote, ‘Prophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks.’

A fair warning but then Twain wrote at a time when many of those in the business of prediction relied on crystal balls and tea leaves.

Today, one would hope that those predicting the future are far better informed than the practitioners of Mark Twain’s day. Which brings me to a recent webinar I attended by Datamonitor.

Entitled, The Future of Beauty Innovation, Datamonitor’s senior analyst for Consumer Insights, Ramaa Chipalkatti laid down the 10 concepts she felt would drive our industry in the future.

Some are already established, while others are brand new.

Make of them what you will.

1. Holistic anti-ageing

It won’t be just about wrinkles, age spots etc on the face, but targeting ageing issues on the rest of the body. Chipalkatti showed recent launches including whitening neck cream, “Boob Glue” to hold up sagging breasts and leg make-up for an airbrushed effect.

“The leg area will be important for anti-ageing in the future.”

2. Smart personal care

Wearable technology is a big buzzword today but is still in the early stages of development in beauty. There will be devices for everything –high price, high sophistication to low price, low sophistication eg mass disposable cleansing brushes. Expect functionality to be embedded in wearable products{eg jewellery that assesses your sun protection needs}.

“Beauty enthusiasts will be empowered”.

3. The time dimension

Already established, the trend for quick to use products offering instant results will intensify. Recent examples include hair chalks/mascaras for a temporary colour change, and 1 Second Nail Polish Remover from Bourjois. The latest development is a 3D printer which mixes powders and creams to create instant beauty products.

“Customisation is an obvious benefit allowing experimentation without spending a lot of money.”

4. Shop-less retail

Vending machines will become a form of mass distribution in the future. Already, Benefit has installed machines in US airports. Vending machines will offer personalisation via facial recognition.

Facial recognition technology is already used on websites and for mobile apps. Consumers will be able to have a virtual makeover as well as analyse the biometric data of their skin for precise product recommendation.

A lot of attention is being given to reducing product packaging, even getting rid of it completely as in grocery retail. It could become a reality in beauty.

“Consumers will be empowered to make their own products and customise them.”

5. Inside-out beauty

There will be more opportunities to combine cosmetics and beauty supplements in the future {“twin cosmetics” from one brand}, despite current consumer scepticism. Look out for “beauty restaurants” which have exclusive beauty-oriented food and drink menus.

“Experience will help overcome hesitation in ‘inside-out’ beauty products.”

6. Facing fears

Consumers fear getting infected and will seek out products that are germ-safe and anti-bacterial, without drying out the hands. Anti-pollutant products, such as Clarins Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream will target skin challenged by a polluted urban environment.

7. Packaging with meaning

Sustainability is top of the agenda for brands such as Mac, which runs “back to Mac”, a campaign to encourage consumers to return empty lipsticks in exchange for a free one.

Brands will add meaning to packaging by producing purse- and travel-friendly formats, by embracing a refill culture {eg Art Deco refillable eye shadows} and selling collectibles {Lalique by Bentley fragrance}.

8. The Ultimate All-in-One

Brands capitalising on the “alphabet craze” are adding more and more claims to products leading to increasing consumer expectations.

“All-in-one is constantly changing and is a high innovation environment with opportunities for USPs and to target new demographics.”

9. Back to basic

New findings on how nature works will provide inspiration from unusual sources, including animals and insects, such as snails eg Secrets de Léa Sérum Concentré which uses asses’ milk.

Watch out for the term “biomimicry” as in sunscreen filters that mimic the natural protection which corals on the Great Barrier Reef emit under the sun’s rays.

“This technology is expected to reach consumer markets in about 5 to 6 years time.”

10. Innovation Inspiration from Food & Drink

An unusual association comes from OPI and Coco Cola with nail polish shades that mirror the colour of the latter’s beverages.

Consumer familiarity with the nutritional benefits of consuming fruit and vegetables is extending to beauty innovation. Exotic fruits and superfruits are growing in popularity for their vitality and nutritional benefits. eg Montagne Jeunesse Very Berry, described as “bursting with the juice of pressed blueberries and crushed cranberries”.

“Food and drink will be a major inspiration for beauty innovation.”

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(4) Comments

  1. Vending machines have been the future for nearly 100 years!

    Vending might be a niche distribution channel for certain brands – but it is just a gimmick.

    That said, customers can already buy products and have them delivered to lockers, which covers off the convenience / 24hours benefit of vending and gets round the limited choice drawback.

    The rise of e-commerce has pretty much removed the need for vending machines – you can now buy at any time and get products delivered within a few hours / next day to your desk or home. Vending usually has a premium price, but e-commerce lets you get the best price.

    Are beauty supplements the future or just a fad? What’s the legal status? My assumption is that many on the market in the EU today aren’t legal, but are below the radar as there isn’t anyone to enforce the rules yet.

    Are Beauty Restaurants the future? Or will they go the way of Oxygen Bars?

    Why would you need to wear jewellery to work out the sun risk when you have a smartphone that knows your exact location and the current weather? That’s just an app – and not one you’ll need to use much in London!

    Were these serious predictions or was it a tongue in cheek presentation?

    I’m pretty sure that premium brands aren’t about to ditch their beautiful packaging in favour of a Mr Whippy machine to dispense moisturiser!

  2. The ideas here are a serious response to some of the most fundamental and long-term challenges facing the beauty industry: achieving truly differentiated innovation that breaks away from the all-too-often seen me-too tactics employed by most brands, and addressing the need to completely re-think the industry’s approach to sustainability to name just two.

    While beautiful packaging is part and parcel of today’s premium skincare and cosmetics offerings, there will come a time – possibly as soon as within the next decade – when brands will be forced to re-think their resource-heavy and costly packaging solutions. Whether through green legislation or consumer pressure for brands to be greener, or simply because consumers evolve a more value-driven mindset where they expect to pay for the product not the packaging, it would surely be better for brands to be ahead of this curve by leading their own creative innovation strategies than being forced to play catch-up to someone else’s agenda.

    The presentation certainly doesn’t suggest that vending machines per se is new news – but its migration into the arena of mass-tige and premium skincare and cosmetics is certainly a strategy worth considering as it opens up a completely new distribution channel to new groups of consumers, and fulfils consumer needs that e-commerce models are quite simply unable to. E-commerce doesn’t remove the need for vending machines at all – arguably it has created consumer demand to be able to buy any product, anywhere, anytime – and ultimately fails to deliver because, unlike vending, the consumer cannot obtain the product instantaneously. Getting products delivered to a convenient locker or to your home or desk within a few hours is still a luxury service only afforded to consumers in the most sophisticated urban centres – not consumers at large. Surely just one of the key attractions of vending for premium beauty brands are that that a lot of sales rely on consumers giving in to impulse purchases, which are most likely to be made in a hurry, when consumers are on-the-go, or outside their normal daily routine such as when travelling long distances. Add to this that vending machines can be placed strategically to give brands presence at times and places when it would be unfeasible to have a staffed retail unit open – and at a significantly lower cost, and it seems that there is a clear opportunity for vending in this sector.

  3. Of course vending machines have been around for ever and will only ever be a tiny way in which to reach customers. If you look at the Benefit example, it’s a long way away from the traditional slot machines dispensing junk food and soft drinks you find in swimming pools etc. It’s a clever reinforcement of branding and brings the brand to the customer wherever she is. I think vending machines are perfect for small impulse beauty purchases and hope more brands will be inspired.

    Re beauty restaurants -definitely a novelty idea but an interesting way to introduce the idea of inner beauty. They could have an important educational use.

    UV bracelets that tell you when you’ve had enough sun -personally I’d rather wear one of these then have to rely on an app on my smartphone, especially when out in the boiling sunshine!

    All in all, I find Datamonitor’s ideas interesting and thought-provoking. Like I said at the start of the article, predicting the future’s anyone’s guess and this is certainly proving provocative!

    Thank you both for your comments.


  4. Hi Ramaa,

    OK – I guess you can understand that in a report predicting future beauty trends, you’re going to get a bit of ribbing for suggesting that beauty “Vending machines will become a form of mass distribution” when they’ve been around for 100 years and haven’t yet.

    I understand your argument that people outside main urban areas still want to make impulse beauty buys and may want to do so at times when the shops aren’t open.

    So what is the market for this nationwide network of rural 24 hour vending machines? Well, the problem with siting them outside main urban areas is that you don’t have a lot of footfall past them. So you can put them in stations for when people come home late – but if they’ve just come from Waterloo, where they could have bought the same items from a store (or vending machine!) how many people will use it?

    These same people, on their long journeys out to the sticks, have mobile phones and tablets with 4G internet connections or WiFi on the train. They can order pretty much anything they like and arrange for delivery at work the next day – or early morning at home. So the impulse buy element is pretty much covered by ecommerce.

    I guess what you’re saying is that the delivery experience for non-urban dwellers is so poor, that vending machines are a good solution. Personally, I don’t buy that. We offer free next day delivery across the UK. That’s not so bad. We’re working to bring in timed and tracked delivery because our research shows that people want more control over the delivery experience, but aren’t so bothered by the speed.

    So I’d suggest that the answer to poor delivery experiences is better delivery – not vending machines.

    I’m actually surprised you wrote off the lockers – because that to me feels like an ecommerce meets vending machine solution. Lockers you can put in rural areas or in local convenience stores, because they serve multiple brands. I don’t see them as a premium solution – my experience with vending machines is that they always charge more than when you buy in store or online. I don’t see locker delivery becoming a premium option.

    I could see vending machines working for some brands – cans of Lynx from a machine – sure. But as a gimmick or niche distribution strategy, not the future of retail because the business case doesn’t work.

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