The future of beauty and the brands leading the way

Thanks to social media and selfie culture, the beauty industry is booming. But, our obsessive inclination to post pouty photos isn’t the only trend dictating our purchase decisions; an ever-growing demand for smart cosmetics is emerging in parallel to the plethora of natural, mindful and holistic cosmetics already hitting the mainstream. Not to mention an increasingly inclusive discussion about what ‘natural’ beauty really means.

The future of beauty

Greater availability of information means that people care about what the products they buy represent. And they want the world to know about their new-found conscious and considered consumerism.

These are the brands fuelling the current beauty trends:

Socially smart cosmetics

One brand trailblazing their way into the future is L’Oreal. The beauty giant’s chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet firmly believes that Artificial Intelligence will transform the future of marketing. With a focus on learning more about their consumers, L’Oreal have recently launched an AI-powered Facebook Messenger.

According to Roche, “Digital [is all about] creating a connection with consumers. By getting the right insight and products and by personalising our advertising, this whole value chain that digital has allowed us to create at scale has become the backbone of our marketing operations.”

L’Oréal believes conversational marketing and commerce in combination with AI will allow it to have more personalised conversations with its consumers, and in turn increase sales. In 2016, L’Oreal’s ecommerce business grew like-for-like sales 32% so they may well be onto something.

High-tech cosmetics

With the ‘My UV patch’, La Roche Posay have positioned themselves ahead of the curve and entered the era of electronic beauty. Known for their commitment to helping users care for their skin, the brand’s latest development is an innovation in skincare. The adhesive patch precisely measures the wearer’s exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. It is connected to smartphone app which alerts the wearer when his or her sun protection becomes insufficient, offering customised advice. The brand are giving away the product for free in 14 different countries, a move that has enhanced its profile exponentially.

Not only are La Roche Posay leading the way in innovative skincare technology, by creating a product that people truly want, they are evolving away from a marketing focus on disseminating messages and celebrating the brand, towards a diverse data-driven and technologically sophisticated industry with consumer interests as its core. And, winning plaudits for it's innovative marketing strategy too.

Natural beauty

Dove has long been seen as a champion for women, with its ‘Real Beauty’ initiative pushing the use of more realistic models in advertising. Since its inception 10 years ago, the Unilever brand’s messaging is crystal clear: less is more and natural is beautiful. But, despite its efforts in improving advertising’s attitude to women, it’s not immune to criticism. Dove recently launched ‘personalised’ bottles in the shape of women’s bodies. Far from being seen as a positive step, this move appeared gimmicky and, conversely, moved the emphasis away from ‘real women’ and back to appearance first.

Dove have consistently led the way when it comes to marketing with rather than at their consumers but this can be a lesson in taking one’s eye off the ball. Consumers expect to be taken seriously and once they’re actively involved with a brand, their creative potential can and should be put to good use – but brands need to not take this for granted.

Not what’s in it but what isn’t

Consumers are becoming more and more conscious of what they put on their skin. Almost 50 per cent of consumers buy natural beauty products and a further 8 per cent want to. It used to be enough to know what was in their products but now consumers also want to know what isn’t. Michael Gordon, founder of Bumble & Bumble has created a new line of products, New Wash, that contain no sodium lauryl sulfate, a sudsiding agent used by almost every other shampoo brand. The company is also aiming for sustainable packaging by providing an aluminium canister and refillable pouches rather than plastic bottles.

People are savvy, they know that 90% of the time “we’re listening” is corporate fluff but by creating a product that responds to consumers’ needs, New Wash have demonstrated that not only are they listening, they want to help consumers move towards their goals. This is how trust and camaraderie is built.

So, how do you stay ahead of the curve?

The key to staying ahead of the beauty curve is to listen to your consumers. Dove’s early marketing success came from consistent interaction with their consumers; L’Oreal are using new technologies to listen to what their customers have to say; and Michael Gordon is responding to consumers’ needs by providing something unique. We live in an age in which consumers are taking an active role. They're informed, shrewd and connected. Brands will only keep the consumers' attention if they’re perceived to be relevant; so it’s crucial to understand what consumers' needs are, and how the brand can meet them. Treat your consumers as co-marketers and use their unique insights to further your message, it’s the only way to lead the way.

To find out how, get in touch.

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