Trend Horizons

In a 2008 GCI magazine trends feature, the editors wrote about the “swiftly changing retail scene and a new way of doing business that is friendlier to the environment.” In 2010, the retail scene is still evolving, with a heavier dash of social media flavoring the retail stew, and sustainable/green business methods becoming the norm and no longer being the exception.

But though the trend horizons of both 2009 and 2011 have their commonalities, 2011’s has taken on a new hue—thanks, in many ways, to the global recession. Consumers—and, subsequently, brand owners—have reassessed what they value, and how they spend. The horizon was darkened; though not necessarily bad for the future, the approach to forging ahead is definitely more cautious.

Making a distinction between a fad and a trend—and strategizing on the longer-lived trend, is more than ever, critical to brand success. Three such trends are offered here, and another four are included in the online version of this feature.

Ethnic Markets on the Rise

As noted in “The Imperative Relevance of Ethnic Hair Care” by Liz Grubow and Elle Morris in the July 2010 issue of GCI magazine, the ethnic-specific beauty market is currently experiencing a growth surge. With the U.S. population’s number of ethnic consumers increasing to 30% by the end of 2010—and showing no signs of abatement—the ethnic market is now hardly a market beauty brand owners can afford to ignore, as it is expected to have a combined spending power of at least $4.2 trillion by 2013.

What’s more in regard to ethnic beauty is that it needs solutions, formulations and products independent of the beauty and makeup tools traditionally created for Caucasian consumers. Ethnic consumers—whether they are of African, Asian, Indian or Hispanic heritage—face different beauty challenges in skin care, nail care and hair care than Caucasians do, and therefore need products created to specifically address these needs in order to obtain product satisfaction.

The cultural implications of beauty products often differ for ethnic markets as well, so simply changing color options or ingredient combinations likely isn’t going to cut it in terms of attracting new consumers from these segments. It’s important for beauty brands to understand the backgrounds, traditions and habits of each group in order to both entice them to the brand through products that appropriately address their needs.

Big industry players such as Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are already recognizing the new needs of ethnic markets and are creating line extensions and brands, accordingly—in everything from makeup to hair care products. However, new start-ups also figure significantly, as they are often created by owners with an intimate understanding of the markets they are seeking to serve.

However, one of the widest ranging implications of the growth of the ethnic market is its global appeal. The continued rise of BRIC, as well as other countries emerging on the free market/beauty development scene, means the ethnic market is less and less of a minority market. For example, the innovations created for beauty products for Asian-Americans could have innumerable applications for products launched in China, which boasts more than one billion consumers and, therefore, may prove invaluable.

Beauty evolves as the world’s population does, and with those labeled as “ethnic” becoming the majority, it’s clear brand owners need to have products available to keep up with this evolution—or risk being left behind.

The Beauty of Health—or Vice Versa

Health and beauty—these two terms have gone together for years and years, supporting each other with requirements of proper body, skin, hair and nail maintenance. However, in 2010, the trend seems to have multiplied exponentially, appearing to be an integral part of every beauty routine, from the simple use of a morning moisturizer to dermatologists launching an array of beauty products and a host of industry companies offering beauty supplements to help ensure beauty “from the inside out.”

Beauty products as simple as lip gloss and moisturizer are seeing health benefits these days. From the introduction of SPF into foundations, skin creams, hair products and more to the increasing introduction of ingredients such as collagen, resveratrol, acai and amino acids, products are being formulated to not only create a youthful, fresh outward appearance, but also to help support a medically healthy body as well. While it’s true that these ingredients and efforts have long supported both health and beauty, the industry has turned the dial up on touting these offerings, showing how they truly do work hand in hand to leave consumers with the results they crave. This has led brand owners to encourage further introduction of these ingredients into formulations, as well as analyzing the ingredients products already include for medically based benefits.

This has also led to a relative explosion of the cosmeceutical niche within the beauty world. Albert Kligman, MD, PhD, a physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and a professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine coined the term, using it to describe topical preparations that were sold as cosmetics but could benefit the skin like a pharmaceutical. Though physicians getting in on the act of beauty products is nothing new, now many dermatologists and cosmetic physicians are branding their lines with their own names, such as Perricone MD, a line founded and supported by dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, MD; Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, formerly MD Skincare; and Obagi Medical Products, founded by Zein Obagi, MD, a dermatologist.

This trend also has encouraged the rise of nutraceuticals, or supplements taken to help encourage and ensure healthy skin, hair and nails. Going beyond vitamins and dietary supplements, these beauty supplements feature a gamut of antioxidant options, isoflavonoids and other ingredients that often naturally appear in food and drink, but are now being used to support a beauty routine. The supplements aren’t always just in pill form, also appearing as drinks and foods, and beauty-supporting ingredients in these consumables are increasingly used to help supplement the skin, hair and nail beauty maintenance routines people are already undertaking.

Market Positioning

The recession as a trend is so 2009— or at least that’s what economists, who assert the economic downturn ended in July 2009, would say. However, the challenges of the difficult economy have implications that are certainly stretching into 2010 and beyond. For the beauty industry, one of the main lasting effects is the increased popularity of private label and store brands. When the economy turned south, many consumers, instead of giving up their beauty routine altogether, shifted to similar products that featured a lower price point. From the online-exclusive GCI magazine article “The Rebuilding of Bar Soap,” Jim Howard, vice president of sales and marketing with bar soap manufacturer Twincraft, said, “There has been a massive focus from the FDM [food, drug, mass] stores to develop their own private label store brands. As a result of the recession, consumers began shifting to using these store brands for their better price points, and then found they liked them. This has encouraged the FDM lines to want to innovate to keep these consumers interested and retain them.”

Now, these lines are working to keep the consumers they gained during the economic downturn—as some consumers turn back to their tried and true brands, as Ed Shirley, vice chair of global beauty and grooming, P&G, noted at a September 2010 CEW event. “Consumers can’t afford to fail [in their product selection] when they don’t have much discretionary income. Brands are trust marks.” This has influenced what retailers offer to consumers on the shelves, as well as how new products are being conceptualized, formulated and marketed.

For more discussion on trends, editor Jeff Falk focuses on: consumers and retail, SPF (it’s everywhere), regulations and restrictions, and fear.

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