Premium Beauty Predictions: What's In Store for 2015?

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Walking through the beauty halls at this time of year, I’ve been struck by the lavishness of product displays and air of confidence amongst the brands. It’s what you would expect at this, the most important time of year, for the beauty industry.

But what are the challenges ahead and what trends can we expect in 2015?

I’ve been speaking to my highly regarded industry colleagues who have kindly shared their views on the state of the beauty industry today and for next year.

Stirling Murray, CEO, The Red Tree:

“The beauty industry faces a paradox –there has probably never been a better time to launch a new brand but there is brand saturation in every product category. There is now a sense of consumer confusion in how to deal with an overwhelming barrage of brands.

“Retailers will increasingly offer a curated brand offer and all but the biggest and best supported brands will face no choice but to carefully edit their range. The days of retailers listing a brand’s full sku offer are long gone. The message for those brands with long product tails is to cut them down because if you don’t, someone else will!“

Mickey Drexler, the highly admired CEO of J.Crew said: ‘the world is changing and customer behaviour and expectations are changing even faster.’

“Having the courage and the will to change as customer expectations advance will be a never-ending challenge for all in the industry.

“Companies, small and large, that stay ahead of the communication and engagement game and seek ways of anticipating needs, will prosper. Those companies that think they can do the things the same way they have for countless years will fall so far behind that their very survival will be in doubt.“

Trends to note in 2015:

  • Strong growth in oral supplements to enhance beauty.

  • The non-stop advance of beauty electrical devices that will segment into mass and premium offers with wide variance in price points.

  • Organic and natural will stay a minuscule part of the UK beauty market despite the best efforts of those who think differently.

  • More new brands than ever…”

Siobhan McDermott, General Manager, Feel Unique:

“Over the past year, we have noticed that, whilst still influential, a celebrity advertising a product/brand, or endorsing it, isn’t necessarily as compelling as it once was, and not a factor that guarantees purchase.Our customers are becoming increasingly more informed. They are savvy and engaged, they want genuine and impartial feedback and information, hence the rise and phenomenal success of the vlogger/blogger tutorials.

“This year has seen those bloggers underline their success and customer engagement with the launch of their own beauty lines. These include Tanya Burr and Zoella, whose beauty lines launched with us at feelunique.com and experienced instant success and sell-out. The ‘fingerfall’ and consumer traffic that these launches generated was similar to our busiest trading days.

“So are these vloggers/bloggers the celebrities of the future? To a degree, yes, because of their reach and the influence they have on their followers. However, their future value will be determined by how they develop themselves as brands and how they balance this with their influence and relevance.“

Is there still a place for the ‘traditional’ celebrity? Yes, I believe that there is, especially for brand awareness and positioning. Who can forget Charlize Theron walking through the Palace of Versailles for J’Adore?

Sean Harrington, Elemis MD:

"We believe that clinical trials and being able to support your claims is a big trend to look out for. We believe consumers are going to demand it, and that media should demand it and we will be doing a lot more of it."

Oriele Frank, Director of Elemis Marketing:

“We see two key challenges facing the beauty industry today including:

  1. The worldwide web has changed the whole beauty industry, with one price globally, be that Sterling, Euro or Dollars. The retail channels across a business now need to be totally aligned.

  2. There is more of an expectation to provide global rollouts simultaneously, again due to web and social media campaigns worldwide, which can be challenging for product development.”

Susan Taylor, Senior Partner, The Taylor Consultancy:“Getting the mix right between online and high street is key. The fragmentation of distribution is growing which is just about OK for retailers with their own sites and who can therefore make the mix work. But the growing force of online only will put pressure on the profitability of department stores. Top end stores have a much better chance because they provide a superb window to tempt consumers. The offering of the likes of Selfridges with ‘Destination Xmas’ is magnificent.

“The big challenge will be the continued emphasis on price. Black Friday is likely to continue as it did generate huge sums but discounted. It is a pity that the US tradition has been adopted here –no retailer or brand is going to be the only one not to participate. Fragrance has been hit the hardest.

“I’m always optimistic. Brands continue to innovate and consumers will always buy new. Clinique’s new electronic facial brush has been amazing and will give them a great thrust forward in skincare.

“There is no doubt that it becomes increasingly more challenging to fight price, but ultimately, value can be presented in a positive fashion by retailers and brands alike. Look at M&S’ entry into the beauty arena. They know that there is a good piece of action to be had from the High Street and will continue to experiment until they get it right.”

Nikki Taylor, Founder, Taylor Made Beauty:

“I believe that the main challenges are ensuring that service standards and communication with the customer are consistent across all channels be it digital or traditional retailers.

“Many consumers research online first and are often driven to purchase online due to what seems constant discounting. I really think that if bricks and mortar retailers up their service standards this will ensure that customers’ desire for a wonderful shopping experience will win through.

“In response to the media’s focus on the mature consumer and their spending power I believe we will continue to see a rise of brands focusing on this market. I also would like to see more relevant images that reflect this consumer. My other wish would be that retailers, such as Selfridges Beauty Workshop and Marks & Spencer, that offer multi brand selections, step up their services to include cross brand selling and service.”

Watch out for our brand new report - Older Women in Beauty-The Golden Opportunity which launches in January.

We wish you a very Happy Christmas and look forward to sharing many more industry insights with you in 2015.