9 Sep 2021 --- Striving for perfection in a beauty space that fails to cater to everyone is no longer acceptable in the beauty and personal care (BPC) industry. Authenticity, embracing flaws and creating a true inclusivity is changing the face of the sector. Ehrin Ziccardi and Neil Petrocelli, co-founders of online curator and incubator of innovative brands, UNDRGRND Beauty, tell us how the industry is shifting in the age of conscious beauty.
Click to Enlarge“The beauty industry has been slow to broaden its definition and depictions of what is considered ‘beautiful’,” says Ziccardi. “However, the way we see beauty, and the way we advertise it, is no doubt changing.”
“Of course, there are still brands and campaigns that promote ‘ideal beauty’ but many marketers are doing their best to dissect those unrealistic expectations and promote confidence and security via imagery that represents the many facets of real/relevant beauty,” details Petrocelli. “Hence the shift towards empowerment through advertising.”
Brands and campaigns are not only acknowledging a perceived trend but are now on the front-end, taking action to discover what consumers want from their BPC buys. “A kinder gentler beauty is emerging,” reveals Ziccardi.
Are trends dying out?
The Innova Beauty and Personal Care Survey 2020 found a whole swathe of top trends that resonated with BPC aficionados. Sustainable products such as those that are biodegradable and ocean safe were the most popular response to the question, “what skin care trends most appeal to you?”, with 35% of global consumers selecting sustainable beauty buys as a leading skin care trend. Clean beauty and “free from” claims came next, confirmed by a third of consumers, then multifunctional products at 28%, followed by cruelty free at 27% and collagen enriched products at 26%.
In the 2020 survey, vegan was tipped as a highly appealing trend by 9% of consumers and 13% cited gender-neutral and all-inclusivity products. Despite the low figure, a total of 46% of consumers strongly agreed or agreed with the statement, “it is important to me that the brand I buy embraces all-inclusivity (ethnicity, body and skin types, ages, gender expressions)”. However, the idea of leading trends may well be on its way out. Consumers value real change and staying power is a must over buzzworthy must-haves of the moment.
Click to Enlargea“From sustainability efforts to attempts to portray real women, beauty marketing had been re-calibrated to appeal on a deeper, emotional level and leave 'insecurity' marketing (and playing upon existing insecurities) behind,” explains Petrocelli. “Brands are striding away from over-the-top glamour and the unrealistic, unattainable 'beauty' of yesteryear, and embracing the beauty that is diverse, the one that comes in all shapes and sizes, imperfections, fine lines, stray gray hair and all. This ‘new beauty’ is becoming less a matter of esthetics and more about self-awareness and individuality.”
Ziccardi adds: “In a post-COVID world, marketing will be driven by a need to establish its authenticity. Only this will allow individual brands to break from the crowd.” By following this approach, the BPC industry could see a shift away from partnerships with social media personalities and the traditional social media 'relationship', Ziccardi says. “Instead, expertise will be a differentiator, meaning beauty and grooming professionals and scientific experts will be used to build trust in product claims and recommendations, particularly as the COVID-19 outbreak is seeing more consumers question the credibility of the advice they are receiving.”
A single-mindedness of purpose and positioning enables smaller, independent brands to have a distinct advantage in the marketing shift the industry is seeing. “Their market entry, with a defined 'stance' and the flexibility that comes with a founder-led small team, makes communicating positioning such as inclusive, diverse, eco-conscious, sustainable, and pivoting as needed, a far easier task than for the larger established brands,” reveals Petrocelli.
“The mergers and acquisitions activity we are currently seeing is spurred by the 'ease' with which a brand is purchased versus developed - an easy entry into the consciousness of a different market,” says Ziccardi.
“Consciousness evolves, sometimes generationally, sometimes quicker, and beauty marketing will continue to keep step,” reveals Petrocelli. His colleague Ziccardi adds: “In the future, brands will likely continue to market themselves down several different paths, but placing a value on who the customer is, without asking he or she to make fundamental changes, will likely endure beyond the next 'quick fix'.”
By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe, BPC Insights Senior Journalist