New Year Beauty Industry Predictions: The Hottest Trends for 2018


Our perception of beauty is changing and so is the beauty industry.Brands can no longer impose their standard vision of beauty onto consumers.

The old paradigms of standard stereotypes and demographics no longer cut it. Beauty brands now need to define beauty on consumers’ terms.

This means that, in 2018, we will see:

  • Beauty brands become more inclusive of diversity and more attentive of consumers who’ve previously been ignored.

  • Personalisation will become more than a vague good intention as technology will give brands the tools to engage directly with consumers.

  • Digital will become the norm as companies come to the realisation that there’s no difference between on/offline marketing and put an end to channel-led silos.

  • Above all, beauty will continue to be an exciting and vibrant industry, driven by innovation and entrepreneurial acumen.

Welcome to 2018!

For our first insight packed article of the year, I spoke to some of our industry's most prominent influencers to find out what they feel will be important trends to follow this year.

The UK Beauty Industry and Brexit

“Personally, I do not foresee any radical change in the retail landscape during 2018.

"Outside regulatory work, I can’t see Brexit having any real effect on the sector next year. Except that brand owners may be prompted by the impending split to put further effort in markets outside Europe.

"Enticing opportunities in China and across Asia, for instance, fuelled by the continued rise in disposable incomes of the region’s growing middles classes and their world-leading internet penetration, will play central roles in the growth strategies of the UK’s largest e-commerce companies – which must increase exposure there even for smaller niche brands.

“But the UK will, of course, remain the key development market for the majority of new and growing brands in 2018."

I have often been surprised as to why some brilliant creators don’t always obtain the retail coverage that might be expected for their brands.

"Over the years though, while working on the Supply & Buy retail event and meeting those in charge of introducing new brands to market, I’ve gathered some ideas as to why many brands do succeed.

  • It’s vitally important to find a real niche in the market, something which genuinely offers something new.

  • Avoid the clichéd PR story, ‘We created it because we couldn’t find it anywhere else’. As, in many instances, the retort might well be: ‘You simply weren’t looking hard enough’.

  • Remember you’re competing against all the same-category brands across the retail market, irrespective of what you consider to be your unique selling points.

  • Be strong in brand identity and product integrity. Presentation and brand story are fundamental to selling-in to store and initially attracting consumer interest, while long-term sales are often determined by the quality and quantity of ingredients used.

  • Produce a concise range and concentrate your resources on a maximum of three hero products. Often one or two SKUs account for the majority of a brand’s sales.

  • Pay attention to driving sales to partner physical and online retailers.

  • National print and digital media coverage is vital. Maybe too much reliance is sometimes placed on the retailer’s footfall or database…

  • Once established, it is difficult to take a mid-range brand upmarket. So, keep to what works. That applies to distribution too.”

Jonathan Charles, founder, Supply& Buy/

Last Year’s Trends Become the New Normal

“The consumer’s path to purchase has never been more nuanced.

"Print media has moved online and marketing/PR is evolving. As a result, many agencies have expanded their services to include social media, influencer marketing and content creation. It’s crucial for brands to define the role of their PR agency.

“Many of the trends of the past couple of years, such as Green, Clean and Sustainable, the merging of beauty and personalisation will no longer be trends. This year will see a tipping point from trend to the new normal. They are no longer ways for brands to differentiate but rather will be a consumer expectation.”

Kelly Kovack, principal of Brand Growth Management and CEO of BeautyMatter

Keeping Beauty Simple

“I’ve read lots of predictions for the beauty industry in 2018 but I haven’t heard any that mention that the need for simplicity is going to become a hot topic.

“Our industry is changing at a speed that is difficult to keep pace with. Communication is splintered with new sources of information, insight and knowledge arriving in ways and times that are impossible to predict.

“There are more new brands than ever entering the market. The means to buy brands is literally multichannel with all retailers offering a bewildering amount of brands.

  • How does anyone make a choice?

  • Where do you go for simple unbiased information?

  • How can beauty make life simpler, less frantic, less confusing?

“2018 might just be the year when someone says enough is enough and pleads “please make beauty simple for me, because if you don’t, I will”.

Stirling Murray, founder and managing director, The Red Tree Consultancy

Big Chain Retailers Need to Change

“Premium beauty brands and retailers need to adapt and evolve to serve how their customers want to shop.

“Retail is generally overspaced and the big chain retailers insistence on brands fitting their quite rigid in-store templates has pushed premium brands increasingly into their own standalone outlets, where they can control the experience to their own exacting standards.

"However, customers prefer to be able to buy from a repertoire of brands and that’s what premium chain stores can offer versus premium brand standalone units (apart from Covent Garden where there are many premium beauty brands in one tight area.

"Even some online-based brands have a pop up in Covent Garden because they know that many people want to touch the product before they buy.)

“I don’t believe that beauty selling is either / or when it comes to high street retail vs online - they both have their place and both need to work out in new and rapidly changing selling environments.

“One aspect that really irks me and that is well overdue for change is the dreadful off-putting approach of sales assistants in premium chain retailers.

"There are too many stores where every three steps you are asked if you want help - to which the answer is automatically ‘No’ whether you need help or not. They actually block the merchandise and stop you from browsing.

“I think that the focus for retailers and brands should be how to provide a seamless, fully integrated, engaging, interactive beauty offer from mobile, online and in-store environments.

"Part of this is working out what the conversation with the customer should be at all stages of the shopping journey.”

Helen Miller, founder, Helen Miller Consulting

Breaking Down Age Barriers

“Two prime demographics - men and older women - were surprisingly Unexciting and borderline ignored in 2017. So with such vast, unexploited potential for both, fingers crossed for some significant ‘new’ news here.

“This year, brands need to play serious catch-up with advertisers. L'Oreal's campaigns with Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs Beauty for example.

"If we're going to see any progress (at all) within the beauty industry's most glaringly ignored demographic, it’s the 50+ woman who has money to spend.

“Beauty has no age because any age is beautiful...and older women deserve lashings of attention yet age-targeted beauty brands (like Studio 10 makeup and Ark Skincare) are still slim pickings in the big picture.

“There's a gap in the market the size of the Grand Canyon for a new generation of age-specific skincare, hair and makeup brands.

“I'm seeing sleep, switching off and slowing down starting to take over from detoxing as we move towards healing beauty and ‘self-care’ in the fullest sense of the word.

"Sleep is the ultimate luxury looks bigger than detox for 2018.

"Including sleep-centric brands, lots of new pillow spray launches, aromatherapeutic overnight treatments with nerve soothers like petitgrain, lavender, geranium, intensive treatment hand serums, and supplements like Lumity Life's Morning and Night wellbeing/beauty programme.”Fiona Klonarides, founder, The Beauty Shortlist

Omnichannel: The Route to Customer Engagement

“As a pioneer in the beauty space for over 25 years, ELEMIS has always listened to what the client wants and then wrapped this in innovation.

“It’s not about jumping on trends; it’s about setting them and changing the landscape.

“ELEMIS will continue to push the boundaries, paving the way with innovative skincare products and services, driving growth through acquiring a new mature millennial customer.

“Our new exciting beauty concept The Skin Exchange in John Lewis Oxford Street, which we launched in 2017, is a prime example of this.

“We are disrupting the traditional on-counter facial experience with a new personalised experience for the time poor millennial, which comprises of three 15-minute ‘skin fix’ elements, delivering maximum results in minimum time.

“This new concept has led to a 37% increase in ELEMIS’ services since launch in September, demonstrating growth through innovation.

“An omnichannel strategy is pivotal to ELEMIS’ success as it enables us to tap into the shopping behaviours of our customers. By using a multi-channel strategy, we can communicate effectively by targeting specific touch points along the customer journey.

“We use digital to embrace and enhance customer engagement with compelling and shareable content with a multi-channel digital strategy to further develop the intimate connection with our customers online and consumer advocates to tell the brand story and deliver our message.”

Noella Gabriel, managing director, Elemis

Do You Run a Make-Up Brand?

In our new Premium Market Report: How to Make it Big in Make-Up, which launches on January 15th, we take a deeper look at the make-up category and reveal what it will take to build a successful brand in 2018 and beyond.

To find out what's in the report, please click here.

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Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash