Posted26 February 2021

Connect Search take a look at the predicted trends within the beauty sector for 2021.

In common with all sectors during the pandemic, the beauty industry has had to adapt to a major change in consumer behaviour and demand. Here we examine some of the key trends in Beauty eCommerce in 2021:

Inclusivity ranges – Global Cosmetic Industry data showed sales of multicultural beauty products surging at a pace double the conventional market. Companies such as Too Faced and Illamasqua have seen revenue and profits rise significantly through innovative and individualised products.

  • The number of unique colour ranges has grown seven times as fast as product lines as a whole, whilst the number of unique colours of foundation sold had grown three times as fast as the rate of new general product development across foundations. Therefore, companies that are embracing inclusive styles and lines are seeing their efforts rewarded in their annual revenue. However, Black and Ethnic Minority women agree that whilst the introduction of a range of different colours is a positive start, lines with an extended shade range are presenting new problems to address: Quantity over quality, and more specifically, undertones that have not been addressed as well as they could be, even with the influence of a brand like Fenty.
  • One of the products that still struggle to cater to consumers with deeper skin tones is sunscreens. Black women and men still struggle to find sunscreens that leaves no white cast. People with darker skin tones experience different types of skin issues unique to their skin tone, like hyperpigmentation, yet the skincare industry chooses not to answer these concerns. Hopefully, we will see a wider and more varied range of products within the skincare sector in the near future.
  • The call for more unisex and gender-neutral products rises, so not only does inclusivity matter in image branding, but also the packaging and overall integrity of its products. Nearly 40% of adults aged 18-22 have shown interest in gender-neutral beauty products (such as skincare and cosmetics) according to NPD’s iGen Beauty Consumer report.
  • Today, brands can now focus on important matters like skin concerns, social responsibilities (like using a diverse advertising cast in their marketing), innovative research on product quality (such as a DNA-based approach for an individual’s key drivers to aging), and interaction with their customers via multiple media platforms rather than emphasizing stereotypical gender-based marketing.
  • Some of the fastest growing unisex beauty brands and product lines for genderless skincare, hair growth, personal hygiene, and bath products include The Ordinary, Ursa Major, Mood, Aesop, Youth To The People, Fenty Beauty, We Are Fluide, MILK, Asos Face + Body, MAC, The Takeaway.

Technology – use of VR and AR is increasing and rates of conversion from trying a product to buying are also on the rise. In October 2019, the world’s leading AR company partnered with Chinese eCommerce giant Jack Ma’s Alibaba group, and integrated its YouCam Makeup AR virtual try-on technology into online shopping experiences. This brought new virtual try-outs to consumers in China. Just six months into using the AR technology, Alibaba revealed they had increased their conversion rate by 4x.

  • L’Oréal India Managing Director, Amit Jain, recently stated that as a result of the market impact and ever-changing consumer habits exacerbated by the recent global pandemic, the firm’s CEO had set a global mission for the brand to “evolve from a beauty to a beauty technology company.”
  • Skincare brand Nutox partnered with Ministry XR to create a ‘skin analysis tool’ powered by deep learning and computer vision, in order to give customers a hyper-personalized experience when shopping for skincare goods – something difficult to buy without trying on samples in-store. The tool is made available to “anyone with a smartphone to analyse their skin and identify major skin concerns such as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, texture, and dullness.” The deployment of the AR tool they were able to engage with their consumers, added value to their brand and drove ongoing conversion and sales, with consumers visibly changed by the experience – voting the company more than just a skincare brand.
  • Popular social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube incorporate its technology into banner advertisements that allow consumers to click and virtually try on makeup products without ever leaving their app.

Clean Beauty – Nielsen research suggests there is a continued move to more natural and simpler products. The eagerness to try something new if it is clean is enabling the rise of new niches, such as blue beauty, a concept referring to products that aim to protect the oceans and water supplies (such as One Ocean Beauty, which partners with charity Oceana). Whilst sales of cosmetics claiming to be natural have declined 1.2% over the last year (on par with cosmetics as a whole), sales of product free from parabens have grown 2.3%. Additionally, products that are both free from parabens and claim to be natural are grew at 12%.

Investing in Influencers – this is not a new concept but investment in online influencers is growing all the time, with a Harvard Business School report estimating that global spending grew from $2 billion in 2017 to $8 billion in 2019 and is forecast to reach $15 billion by 2022. Major beauty brands are now often spending the majority of marketing budget on influencers, for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, brands secured a return on investment of around $11.45. Estée Lauder now spending 75% of its marketing budget on influencers, whilst L’Oréal allocates 30% of its media spend to digital channels.

Brand Partnerships – when interests such as a favourite childhood snack or television show are combined with makeup and beauty, joining the existing audiences of both brands together in a marketing move called co-branding, more customers are attained – even those who would not typically be interested in makeup. This business model was most recently utilized by both Cheetos and Hershey. Cheetos captured enthusiasm amongst consumers with the newly released Cheetos-themed eyeshadow and bronzer palettes as well as an XXTRA Flamin’ Hot lip gloss kit. Likewise, the Hershey Corporation coordinated with Korean beauty brand Etude House to create chocolate bar-themed products. The line featured two eyeshadow palettes, one with Hershey’s Creamy Milk Chocolate bar packaging and the other mimicking the packaging of a Cookies ‘N’ Creme bar. This beauty eCommerce trend is set to continue with brands such as Coca Cola partnering alongside eyeshadow giant, Morphe, whilst MAC branched out into new territory by announcing a collaboration with popular Chinese online multiplayer game, Honour of Kings, and Mentos lent their name to a new range by K-Beauty label Innisfree.

These are just a handful of trends and innovation being driven by the Beauty sector, which after a challenging year, will be looking forward to recovery and growth.