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Multifunctional Versus Tailored Approaches in Beauty

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: November 6, 2012, from the January 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

There are two seemingly divergent trends happening in the skin care market lately. On the one hand, there is great consumer demand for specialized targeted products, and on the other, consumers are looking for shortcuts with multifunctional products that also save money.

Multifunctional products are not a new trend, with examples dating back to products such as the 2-in-1 shampoos and conditioners. Today, however, multifunctionality is present across most categories, but most prominently in oral care, hair care, skin care, color cosmetics and sun care. Taking the example of hair care, the category has evolved to include a number of offerings with many additional properties beyond basic function and care, such as treatment, moisturization, SPF and repair.

Nicole Tyrimou, industry analyst, Euromonitor International, explains what is driving the trend. “There is a desire to cut down on the multiple steps and products, to save time as part of increasingly ingrained on-the-go lifestyles, as well as get better value for money, which in turn is driving multifunctional launches,” she comments.

[Euromonitor will present this and similar industry trends at the trends presentations at the in-cosmetics 2013 event in Paris, taking place April 16–18, 2013.]

Tyrimou also maintains that although the trend is seen in both prestige and mass brands, it is more dominant in mass. “Mass brands by default want to promote their value for [the] money, as well as convenience—two factors well-supported by multifunctional products,” she points out. “Multifunctional products are increasingly moving into the mainstream, but consumers still need further education and persuasion in terms of why they should choose those products over others, as well as what added value and benefits they are getting.”

BB Creams

BB creams are the newest and probably the most successful development in the area of multifunctional beauty products. It is hard to believe just how new the category is, at least in Western markets, given the number of skin care brands that now include a BB cream within their lineups. The appeal of a single skin care product combining multiple features has its origins in South Korea, gaining popularity there before spreading to the rest of Southeast Asia and then west to Europe and the U.S.

The original BB creams stood for “blemish balm” creams and typically featured ingredients to treat pigmentation spots in a formulation that provided natural coverage. It wasn’t long before leading brands—including Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme, Garnier and Dior—launched their own versions. Each brand wants to differentiate its BB cream product by interpreting BB in a number of ways, calling them “Beauty Balms,” “Beauty Benefit Crèmes” and even Clarins' “Beauty Flash Balm” to denote instant radiance.

Euromonitor’s head of beauty and personal care Irina Barbalova believes the success of BB creams can, to a large extent, be attributed to the wide publicity, marketing and media hype they've received. “They are fashionable, and many consumers are drawn to their novelty and are willing to experiment,” she notes. “The fact they are a trend that originated in Asia is not to be ignored either. Much like in the fashion industry, exotic influences from the East are easily aspired to in beauty.”