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Diagonal Reports Looks at Beauty Trends to 2020

Posted: October 16, 2013

A future-directed analysis published by Diagonal Reports predicts a different beauty buyer and world for 2020 with new reference points. Distinctive consumer segments are shaping a new beauty agenda worldwide, and their concerns—although minority—intersect with demographic, ethnic and social changes, and influence how beauty products are assessed and bought by large numbers of people. These small groups can punch far above their weight due to their use of social media and the internet.

Diagonal Reports summarized some of the new terms of debate for mainstream beauty brands, their millions of users and the confluence of developments that led to this situation.

Online allows large number of people, who previously lacked the means of communication, to link up and in. This platform enables dissatisfied "searchers and seekers"—whether beauty consumers or innovators—to exchange information about problems and solutions. Social media has not only magnified the power and reach of what otherwise are disparate groups but also multiplied their numbers.

The number of believers in the "alternative"—an umbrella term for the "natural," "organic," "green" and minimal processing—is at an all-time high. Levels of conviction range from greater general awareness of and concern about ingredients for many to chemophobia for a few. But it is the voices of the latter that are shaping consumer attitudes about product formulations.

For a distinctive and influential consumer segment, there is now a more level playing field between commercial brands with their complicated supply chains and the hand- or homemade with its transparency and traceability. The make-your-own movement is part of the spirit of the times, but it also offers those who are or feel more financially fragile a way to save money yet maintain their skin and hair care standards.

The success of and familiarity with natural brands and the spa concept has created demand for wide ranges of oils and herbs. But ironically, the high profile of premium-priced "organic" brands is partly responsible for the proliferation of kitchen table imitators. Organic brands always stress product purity but—following the law of unintended consequences—many consumers concluded that they could save money by opting for oils and herbs instead of the brand.

Most importantly of all, ethnic consumers are to the forefront of these developments. Ethnic/multicultural consumers will shortly become the majority in the worlds' biggest beauty market, including in the U.S. In addition, the beauty industry is relying on the emerging markets' millions of consuming classes in Asia, Latin America and Africa to be the new drivers of market growth. Critically, it is both sets of these consumers that express the most concern about ingredients due to their use of hair relaxers and skin lightening products.

This future-directed analysis from Diagonal Reports is based on trends observed in interviews with beauty experts across four continents (Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa) and 15 countries conducted over a 18-month period. The focus of discussion was on changes in consumer behavior and buyers' hair and skincare concerns. This report is a practical way for formulators to get ahead of trends and developments.