To BB or Not to BB?


That is certainly the question for those beauty brands who have yet to launch a BB cream. And the answer is probably: don’t bother, the trend may have already peaked.

In our Premium Market Report 2013, we record 2012 as the year of the BB cream and that brands are now staking their hopes on CC creams as the next big trend in skincare/make-up. The trend is speeding up and beauty brands are likely already looking ahead to the next innovation, but should it be a trawl through the alphabet?

Personally, I think that adding DD, EE or any other alphabetical combination is the lazy marketer’s approach to launching. I’m not convinced consumers are even taken in by the whole double digit phenomenon and the statistics seem to bear this out.

Consumer-led or Marketing-led?

According to Google Trends, global consumers didn’t start searching the internet for BB creams until 2008. At this time, the trend was limited to South East Asia, and in particular, South Korea, where it originated. Online interest in BB creams began to escalate in 2011 and is still high in May 2013. Meanwhile, the first CC creams are already out and creating a stir amongst internet searchers.

It’s easy to conclude that marketers are responding to the demand. However, a L’Oreal report entitled “Here Comes the Science”, 2012, showed that BB cream was used by just 18% of all women, peaking amongst the 16-24 age group at 27%.

Could it be that consumers are inquisitive, but not taken in by the claims? The first BB Creams {Beauty Blemish} were a combination of foundation and moisturiser, which sounds remarkably similar to what was once termed a tinted moisturiser. Gradually, new versions have added more and more benefits.

Cosmetics chemist Colin Sanders {@beautyscientist} recently wrote about BB creams on his blog, saying: “As they have grown in popularity the big brands had engaged in a typical arms race to add further functions. Now most offer 5 or sometimes 6 benefits. One even offers a formulation to make your skin look both satin and matte at the same time.” He maintains: “It doesn’t seem that the products can possibly justify the hysteria.”

The trend hasn’t stopped with skincare. P&G has launched Pantene Ultimate 10 BB crème for hair, which is basically a multi-functional “beauty balm”, designed to repair, strengthen, add silkiness, shine, manageability, control frizz, protect against heat etc.So there we have it: BB, CC creams, or whatever you wish to call them, are multi-tasking products, a trend that has been with us for some years. By adding BB/CC to the product description, marketers can imply that they are launching something new and innovative.

Colin observes that the product development teams all go to the same shows and obsessively follow what each other is doing. “If a couple of players bring out with a BB cream, then everyone wants one. The products then get reviewed and start appearing on shelves with all the usual promotional activity.”

He concludes: “I am trying to imagine what the reaction will be when somebody comes up with something really innovative. If this is what a new name for a tinted moisturiser can do, I can’t imagine what effect something really new would have.”Smart beauty marketers will already have their eye on the hot trends coming out of South East Asia. This was, after all, where the whole BB craze began. Innovations in texture and formulation, such as micro-mists, gels and foams, are already the next big thing in Korea and China.

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