Makeup in Paris Looks to the UK for Inspiration


On 19th June, the International Makeup in Paris show is dedicating a slot in its conference programme to the UK make-up market. I’m delighted to have been asked to be a speaker on premium make-up market trends and participate in the panel discussion.Why the UK make-up market?

Not only is UK make-up the fastest-growing market in Europe (Cosmetics Europe), but has established a reputation for being extremely “trend led”.

Premium make-up is particularly strong, due to new product launches contributing to sales growth of +10% in 2014, according to this year’s Premium Market Report 2015.

New sub-categories and formats, such as brow products and chubby pencils, are drawing new users to a category where innovation, fashion and quality are pre-requisites for growth.

Eva Lagarde, marketing consultant, will be leading the panel discussion on the UK make-up market in Paris.

She says, “Having lived in London for almost four years, I keep being fascinated by the creativity and reactivity of this market. It seems to go beyond my wildest dreams in terms of colours, textures and formats. As a professional working in the beauty industry, I have struggled to know who the key players are and the key trends."

"So I have started investigating the market and thought it would be interesting to share what I have learnt about the challenges and opportunities in the UK to help professionals gain a deeper understanding of the market.”

Driver 1: Fashion

Julia Wray, editor, SPC magazine and a fellow panelist at Makeup in Paris, explains the role fashion is playing in shaping the UK market.

She says, “The boom in brow products that followed Cara Delevingne’s ascension to fashion royalty is testament to that.

“It’s also little surprise that the nail art trend was pushed by British companies like Wah Nails – it wasn’t just a case of looking more ‘done’, it was an expression of individuality.

“British fashion is frequently described as ‘quirky’ or ‘experimental’ and we have the same approach to beauty, creating ‘wardrobes’ of nail polishes and lipsticks to play with if the mood takes us.”

Driver 2: Discounting

Discounting is also playing a strong role in the growth of UK make-up sales.

“Women in the UK are also proud of having sniffed out a bargain,” Julia continues. “This does not mean that we are accepting of substandard products, but, as with fashion, if someone complements us on a lip shade, we are thrilled (not embarrassed) to reply that it is a mass market brand, or that it was discounted.”

According to The Premium Market Report, premium make-up sales are rising faster than the total market. Discounting online by dedicated beauty etailers is helping to drive sales.

Julia adds: “Indeed, the discounting of premium brands via online only sites has fuelled more aggressive discounting from traditional bricks and mortar retailers too.”

British Make-Up Innovation

British brands have been good at spotting unmet consumer needs in make-up. For example, Studio 10 Beauty (featured in the Older Women in Beauty: The Golden Opportunity report), is a range of products formulated for women from their late 30s.

Julia also highlights C.A.K.E Cosmetics, a range for colour at mass market prices.

“I am also susceptible to brands that do one thing very, very well. For me, Eve Snow epitomises this, having really kick-started the trend for ‘kind’ nail polish in the UK.

“Likewise, I’m excited by mascara brand CODE Beautiful. Director, Sarah Cross – a fellow Makeup in Paris panelist – is evangelical in her pursuit of the perfect mascara.”

CODE Beautiful: a formula, brush and recommended application technique for impactful lashes

Sarah Cross came up with the idea for her hero product whilst chatting to her business partner about how difficult it was to find one mascara to achieve the look they both wanted as both have sparse lashes.

“In a moment of madness we decided to set about manufacturing our own,” explains Sarah.It took two years to get the formula and brush combination perfect. The two business partners saw Tokyo as the leading edge in fashion so went out there for inspiration. The Japanese influence can be seen in the branding.

“We had some amazing retailers take our single sku when we first launched. I think they can see our vision for the brand and want to build up their customer base so they are ready and waiting for the next new CODE Beautiful product.”

A pre-mascara product will launch in July and there are several lip products in the pipeline.

“They know that we won’t manufacture product for product’s sake; ours are all hero products and must-haves with strong repeat purchase rates.”

Education is key and the packaging is presented in a friendly informal way to help with the application technique.

“Who wants to walk into a department store and feel stupid because you don’t know how to use a product? As women, we often feel embarrassed about not being good at applying make-up."

"Just because we are not in the inner circle of the beauty industry doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know the secret techniques our make-up artists use.”

Makeup in Paris takes place on 18-19 June at Carousel du Louvre, Paris, France