Are Beauty Dupes a Good Thing?

Focusing on ingredient quality can help brands beat out lesser dupes.
Focusing on ingredient quality can help brands beat out lesser dupes.
yuriyzhuravov at Adobe Stock

In February 2024, CEW hosted its annual "Global Trend Report" virtual event, featuring data and analyses from Yarden Horwitz of Spate, Larissa Jensen of Circana, Sarah Jindal of Mintel, Sam Mintz of Google, Leslie Ann Hall of Iced Media, Tara James Taylor of NielsenIQ, and Conor Begley and Alex Rawitz of CreatorIQ/Tribe Dynamics. Read our full, multi-part analysis here:

Beauty dupe culture is a fixture of the marketplace and a favorite topic for influencers and journalists. They’re also the bane of many brands’ existence.

But are they such a bad thing?

The conventional wisdom is that dupes cut into originators’ market share and undermine investments into innovation.

But NielsenIQ data presented during the recent CEW year in review showed that 98% of surveyed shoppers said dupes expanded their regular routine, including the adoption of products such as setting sprays, primers and bronzers.

No surprise, primers and setting sprays are among the most-duped products, along with eyebrow products.

NielsenIQ's Tara James Taylor argued in her briefing that not only are dupes a major force in the U.S. market, brands that are most duped are typically doing very well.

That said, Sarah Jindal of Mintel argued that brands seeking to compete with dupes will need to leverage unique ingredients that are harder to adopt or replicate.

Jindal pointed to data showing that 68% of U.S. shoppers say they are willing to pay more for higher quality formulations, while 72% of Chinese consumers want scientific evidence of efficacy.

The analyst added that focusing on ingredient quality—like a wider variety of hyaluronic acid molecular weights or unique vegan collagens—can beat out lesser dupes.

So too can a focus on green chemistry, as well as self-testing tools, AI devices or other tools that in some way boost efficacy.

These facets are far more difficult to dupe.

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