The beauty industry is one of the most exciting, innovative and dynamic sectors in the world today. It’s certainly not a new industry and some brands are celebrating over 100 years in business. However, there has been a recent shift in the balance of power, particularly as buzzy indie brands begin to harness the power of social media and initiate radical trends. Whilst those retailers with longevity are not exempt to this shift, they must be willing to embrace change and take opportunities to meet modern consumer demands.
Beauty trends are very much at the heart of this revolution to the industry. Over time, multiple trends have emerged which a promise to redefine our beauty regimes. From activated charcoal through to plant-based products, we find ourselves angling towards the next ‘big thing’ which could enhance our approach towards a physical and emotional peak.
As beauty enthusiasts and consumers, we are so deeply guided by these recommendations and put our trust into knowledgeable sources such as brands.
From a retail design perspective, the world of beauty retail is certainly one of the most complex and fast-moving sectors. Beauty is a playground. It is a platform for brand innovation and consumer experimentation. Whilst ‘experiential’ might have quickly fallen into overuse, the beauty industry continues to pioneer this trend; opening countless spaces which disrupt the norm and make us fall in love with brands over and over again. From Benefit’s hipster fried chicken pop-up store through to Shiseido Ginza beauty powerhouse of luxury, there are boundless opportunities for brands to connect with their consumers on a physical level. However, uniqueness is key here in a quickly over-saturated market. Those brands thriving in this modern day are those who offer a point of difference and refuse to let these connections become stagnant.
Best of all? The impact that social platforms have on this execution of physical experiences. Those beauty brands in the know have begun to harness the power of social media to facilitate conversations, research what their consumers are crying out for, reach out to influencers and promote their own brand experiences.
THE CONCEPT OF WELLNESS To look good is to feel good
Wellness refers to holistic living which is characterised by physical, mental and social wellbeing. Stemming from Danish ‘hygge’ (the supposed secret to happiness), the concept has quickly become a mantra for our everyday lives; with consumers placing more and more value on their health and wellbeing. At the heart of this movement is the beauty industry, with many beauty retailers prioritising wellbeing as part of their product, social and physical strategies.
In recent years, a shift in preference has become blatantly apparent. There is no denying that we still have a focus on our physical appearance, but we want our aesthetic to be matched with a sense of feeling good. Fitness, clean-eating, organic products, wholesome experiences – they all form part of our desire to live fulfilling lifestyles.
Whilst many industries have utilised this new approach to living, the beauty industry is perhaps the most innovative. From Deciem’s dedication transparent, cost-effective skincare regimes through to Lush’s introduction of packaging-free natural beauty products, it has become apparent that beauty retailers are answering a modern demand for personal, social and economic wellness.
Most importantly, these brands recognise that wellness is a circular movement. We feel good if we look good and we look better when we truly feel good. Regardless of skincare and make-up routines, our journey towards wellness is entirely individualised and we highly regard brands who cater to personalisation.
Whether we demand to know the science behind the ingredients, choose to indulge in the allure of glamorous packaging or fully immerse ourselves in a relaxing store experience; we are mostly seeking evidence and credibility from a beauty brand. We want to trust that these brands have our wellbeing at heart, that they strive to offer us more than a cover-up, but a celebration of what makes us us.
THE CONSUMER DRIVERS The mindset of the modern beauty consumer
In a sector which is not only heavily saturated, but has such a wealth of innovation at play, it is often hard to distinguish the good brands from the bad. And adhering to the latest trends isn’t the only answer here. It is also important to consider the most impactful factor of all: the consumer drivers.
Understanding the mindsets and motivations of the beauty consumer was traditionally focused on demographics, but just as consumers no longer want to be stereotyped by their gender, ethnicity or social position; they certainly do not want to be defined by their age. Instead, we can establish consumer profiles by determining how they interact with the industry:
With such a wealth of choice, the beauty seeker is looking for the holy grail of their beauty regime. They are driven by research and they strive to determine a set of products which will offer consistent results. Most importantly, they use social platforms for their research and insight; with a particular focus on peers and influencers who honestly review products.
The power of media – social and editorial – is heightened for the beauty seekers as they hunt out their next purchase.
They know what they want, where they can get it and what they are willing to pay for it. The beauty fanatics are driven by self-expression and are open to trying new products which offer a variety of benefits. With such an open mind to the industry, brands shouldn’t be perturbed that this shopper mindset may not be focused on loyalty to one brand.
However, as they are fuelled by experimentation, these beauty fanatics are won over by brands whom design an experiential beauty playground – online and in-store.
As the industry and its products become more and more complex, the beauty solver is motivated by a results-oriented approach. Their mindset is entirely focused on bespoke solutions to their wants and needs, specifically from a source that they feel is credible.
They refuse the one-size-fits-all model and favour brands who listen to their demands, answering them with product ranges and physical experiences which are transparent and most importantly – authentic.
SPEED OF SERVICE A frictionless service
Across multiple sectors, brands are taking the steps towards eliminating pain points and obstacles in our path to purchase. From fast fashion brands such as ASOS allow us to order from the comfort of our sofa and have items delivered the next day through to Amazon Go’s most advanced convenience store, we have become accustomed to seamless services and transactions. The beauty industry welcomes this concept of frictionless shopping, introducing virtual shopping baskets, digital totems (MAC Shanghai) and purchasing directly through Instagram.
Having, this concept has been quick to outgrow platforms and is now integrated into physical retail. Beauty appointments are no longer limited to expensive spa breaks, they now feature as part of our busy daily lifestyles. In a move marketed as a ‘re-written narrative on hair’ Hershesons opened a one stop beauty shop in Harvey Nichols, featuring the best in beauty newness. Not only a chance to make a radical hairstyle change or discover the next best skincare, it was also a mark of how the casual shopping experience could become one of beauty and wellness. Similar to this concept was the MAC x Bumble & Bumble store which was neatly divided into a beauty store and express salon, enabling consumers to feel holistically pampered in just one space.
This seamless service acknowledges the ease of online shopping but creates experiential moments; removing the boredom which comes with sifting through shelves of monotonous product or waiting weeks for the appointment with your regular stylist.
Throughout 2020, we will read countless ‘the future of beauty’ articles. However, whilst brands continue to diverge from the norm and create outrageous social and physical experiences, we find ourselves in an unwritten future. Fun right?