A Hot Take On Beauty For 2021- The Beauty Trends & Innovation Conference

beauty trends and innovation conference attendees
Charlotte Rudd
by: Charlotte Rudd
With the global success of a vaccine in place 2021 has already been off to a better start and with exciting trends set to emerge from the beauty industry, experts are predicting a ‘roaring 20’s’ effect is about to start.

Summer 2021 is looking ever-more promising for bringing more freedom and with it a thirst for going out and travelling around again. Whilst this year’s Europe’s Flagship Beauty Trends & Innovations Conference held on 27 January 2021, was hosted virtually due to the pandemic, there was a real sense of excitement and positivity as industry experts predict great things over the next few years with a boom in beauty when lockdowns lift. 

From sustainability, ethical business models, a rise in men’s skincare and the omnichannel approach, we explore some of the key topics that are set to emerge within the industry as well as some of the trends we think brands need to be paying particular attention to help harness the true power of the roaring ’20s…

Omni-presence Success For Multiple Channel Approach

There’s no denying brands have had to shift their strategies throughout 2020 with restrictions on consumers drastically changing buying habits and forcing them online. One of the biggest industry trends has been the omnichannel approach with brands bridging the gap between the traditional reliance on awareness and the new demand for information on products as well as the use of influencing via social media channels. 

For an industry that traditionally relied on physical shops, beauty counters, salons and testing products, 2020 brought many challenges for brands but also introduced an opportunity to reach new audiences. Brands who recognised the opportunity to boost their online activities using influencer marketing, digital advertising and general social activity have enjoyed a significant rise in sales.  Covid has accelerated the need for this collaborative omnichannel approach when traditionally it would have taken big brands like L’ Oreal just  8 weeks to implement and execute their omnichannel approach, a strategy that would have taken them 3 years.

Brands like Dermalogica, Olaplex and L’Oreal reaped the benefits of selling products directly from social channels like Instagram and TikTok, harnessing the demand for a convenient ‘social selling’. And these trends are looking set to continue as more young consumers engage with more digitally-focused businesses. The knock-on effect of appealing to younger audiences is the real need for authenticity and transparency as more people in their 20’s are closely connected to sustainability and environmental issues. 

Thinking Outside ‘The Box’ 

In fact, 85% of consumers from the UK are concerned about climate change with 58% of Gen Z always look for environmentally friendly products. Reaching new audiences brings a new demand for businesses to meet their expectations and younger audiences engage with brands who champion sustainability and offer an ethical approach with their products. From refills, eco-packaging and being actively transparent with ethics, consumers want far more from companies than they did previously as the interest in environmental education continues to grow. Brands need to be really conscious of using buzzwords such as ‘sustainable packaging’ and ‘biodegradable’- it may be tempting for companies to refer to these key terms but is it even possible to create completely biodegradable packaging. 

Whilst recycling packaging within the beauty industry has significantly improved and continues to gain momentum, it’s still not widely adopted. Industry experts are keen that brands revise their packaging, stating the best packaging is the ones we can avoid. Brands need to be literally thinking outside the box when it comes to offering alternatives for products. Think reusable bottles, refill schemes and compostable elements as well as sustainability-sourced ingredients. The next wave of ingredients set to take the industry by storm are more diverse and companies are currently trying to think of new ways of sourcing these more sustainably. 

Brands who are already well-versed in championing their sustainable approach are Neal’s Yard, Lush and Yardley who are industry-leaders with innovative products and emotive business mantras that speak to consumers on a deeper level. Consumers are recognising more brands that encompass all the qualities of sustainability, not just one element of a business. Market insights company, Mintel goes one step further stating ‘zero waste is not a trend- it’s here to stay’. Whilst it might be easier for companies to focus on being ‘less bad’, it’s more productive for reaching longer-term commitments to being environmentally conscious if companies think about being ‘more good’.

Adapting Products To Reach New Markets

It’s not just having an adaptable approach when it comes to an ego-approach as companies who’ve shown flexibility with products and a willingness to reach new audiences have truly emerged triumphant. 2020 was the year that saw salon-specific brands such as Olaplex and Dermalogica enjoy a resurgence in sales as salons and beauty bars were forced to close. Whilst many companies were nervous to move into digital space, those who took the plunge have seen a significant boost in sales. 

By starting out life in the salons and adapting to be consumer-facing, companies that have seen notable success have used social channels to engage and influence a whole new audience online, using influencer marketing to share real results with curious audiences. Notably, haircare has seen a key shift in consumers becoming far more informed and knowledgeable about the products. Developing affiliate relationships with trusted beauty bloggers and industry experts has proved to build the successful for building the trust built a bridge to local skin centre and digital world. 

This also applies to well-established brands who already enjoy global brand awareness as more companies emerge into the beauty and skincare space, consumers want to feel they can directly approach brands via social and they’re looking for trust signals the products actually work. As well as targeting new age groups with an omnichannel approach, companies need to be thinking genders too- or rather, targeting a whole new potential group they would have previously overlooked.

Emerging Trends For Men’s Skincare Brands

From Nov 2020-Jan2021, industry experts noticed a shift in gender-based buying, reporting a 42% uptake of men changing their skincare routines. Germ transition has meant people are focusing more on skin, opening up a largely untapped opportunity before the pandemic to reach a whole new customer base; men. Brands looking to harness this new consumer behaviour should be thinking less gender-specific and create more gender-neutral products to suit the growing markets.

Over the past few years, the skincare and beauty industry started to focus on men more, in response to growing interests on social media, a cultural shift with a new view to what masculinity is and more men-focused products being launched. With the added new external factor, covid, product use coupled with more brand choices, there has been a sharp rise in men looking to improve their self-care routines. As well as an increase in skincare, men in particular have adapted to lockdown restrictions and the closure of barbers by cutting their own hair. Around 33% of men cut their own hair in 2020, compared to 19% of women with UK terms for shaving men’s hair increasing by 1850%. 

Savvy brands will pay particular attention to this shift in haircare too as different hair and personal needs should be considered instead of creating products designed for just one group of people. As an emerging market, there is still lots of scope for brands to really make an impact within this new audience group, introducing the scope for personalisation as well as other traits such as sustainability.

Key takeaways from the conference

  • Long term shifts in brand behaviour such as recyclable packaging, sustainable ingredients and a transparent business ethos are persistent themes that look set to continue for 10-20 years
  • The initial boom and focus on self-care is set to continue and will only increase over the next few yearseven after restrictions lift as consumers are more mindful of wellbeing
  • It’s more productive for reaching longer-term commitments to being environmentally conscious if companies think about being ‘more good’.
  • Future-proofing a brand is essential for appealing to the digitally-savvy generations and brands should focus more on those consumer shifts that we know are continuing. 
  • Investing in an omnichannel approach is a better use of time and money for businesses everywhere
  • Having an adaptable business model has significantly benefitted brands such as Dermalogica and Olaplex to reach a whole new type of audience. Broadening a brand outside of its typical customer range 
  • Companies of all sizes need to have an ‘indie brand’ approach- open and direct contact with customers- no matter what size of company they are. 
  • Products need to have an emotional pull with a direct reference to sustainability or functional purpose consumers can identify as being eco-friendly
  • Not a time for JUST products, consumers want stimulation- they actively look for education on ingredients 
  • Men shouldn’t be overlooked as a great potential new audience for all brand- they were a large untapped opportunity before pandemic. As this is an emerging market, we need to see more products for men
  • Traditional ideas of masculinity is gone, notion towards ideas that its for everyone, gender neutral. Gender norms to be removed

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