The Future Of Beauty: Redefining the Conversation

Future of Beauty: (from left) Mariangela Gisonda (The NPD Group, Inc.), Marta Cammarano (Intercos USA), Lezlee Westine (Personal Care Products Council), Nichole Kirtley (L’Oréal USA), Jennifer King (Firmenich, Inc.) , Beatriz Loizillon (Estée Lauder Companies).
Future of Beauty: (from left) Mariangela Gisonda (The NPD Group, Inc.), Marta Cammarano (Intercos USA), Lezlee Westine (Personal Care Products Council), Nichole Kirtley (L’Oréal USA), Jennifer King (Firmenich, Inc.) , Beatriz Loizillon (Estée Lauder Companies).

Group Mentor: Lezlee Westine, Personal Care Products Council

What will beauty look like in 2020?

There are the obvious trends such as an increasingly aging population, globalization, technology innovation and environmental concerns. These are already here, and will definitely continue to impact beauty. However, the biggest change in 2020 will be redefining the communication with consumers. In 2020, women will no longer want to be told what to look like. The narrow Western beauty ideal of “young, thin and blond” will no longer hold true. Instead, women will want and will require being part of the conversation, rather than just the recipient of the message.

Beauty Will Be Real

Today, women constitute almost half of the U.S. workforce and control 73% of household spending.1 At the same time, women handle the majority of household chores and childcare responsibilities. Between building careers, managing a home and parenting, women's to-do lists are growing increasingly longer. Women are finding that increased opportunities often come at a cost: their personal happiness.2 While the difficult task of balancing work and parenting is here to stay, by 2020 women will have made one great discovery: they are no longer beholden to perfection.3 Surveys show that women 18–30, who grew up seeing their mothers exhaust themselves trying to have it all, are realizing that having it all does not necessarily mean doing it all.

In 2020, increased complexities and pressures of life will call for pragmatism rather than perfection. This new woman will no longer obsess over little things. She will be more likable, more reliable, and more real than previous generations. She will embrace her perfectly imperfect self, realizing that it's really all about how she defines herself at any given moment in time. She will see herself as an individual and will strive for a sense of personal identity outside her multiple roles. She won't look for a “one size fits all,” but rather for something unique that reflects her distinctive reality. Her greatest luxury will be time for herself; organization and functionality in her life will be key. She will look for solutions that will help her manage the complexity of her life, reduce her workload, and give her more time to focus on what‟s really important. Brands must therefore shift from telling to assisting her, focusing on helping her make the most of her life and supporting her in her search for comfort and problem solving.

Beauty Will Be Reciprocal

In 2020, the shift from telling the consumer what she needs to servicing her will have occurred. Brands will communicate authentically as the 2020 consumer is looking for real beauty aspirations. This reciprocal relationship and new form of interaction will enhance her shopping experience and abide to her practical and sensible rules.

Technology will unquestionably play a great role in the conversation with the consumer. It is expected that, in 2020, we will have 32 times the technological capabilities that we have today.4 Consumers are increasingly researching information and conversing on the Internet, and most do so before making purchases. In a world where applications exist to help you with anything, the beauty industry will have created one exclusively for the woman of 2020—the iBeautyFINDER. The iBeautyFINDER will make her beauty discoveries interactive and personal. She will input her unique details and preferences, including ingredient allergies and favorite colors, and create several profiles based on her different “beauty personalities”—from diva to CEO.

The iBeautyFINDER will be able to advise her on the best products for her based on factors such as the water content of her skin, the weather forecast, or her current moods. This will ensure that her new red lipstick or therapeutic night cream is just right for her. Her iBeautyFINDER can even make every day a “good hair day” by recommending the right product based on her environment. In addition, beauty retailers will match her desires against their product database to offer her the best solutions and bid for her business. To further enhance her shopping experience, she will be able to snap a picture of a product and instantly receive information on its ingredients, ratings, and carbon footprint. Moreover, she can pick up her product within a two-hour time slot at the location that is most convenient for her. However, we cannot forget the human element, and if she prefers, she will find her personal beauty concierge waiting at the store for her to experience the product.

Brands will communicate back to the consumer and address her unique beauty needs by utilizing her detailed information on the iBeautyFINDER. This will be an opportunity for brands to interact with her on a more personal level. There will be constant communication, a real conversation, between brands and the woman of 2020. By reaching far beyond the utilitarian function, this new type of service will build a different relationship between brands and consumers, one that is more down to earth and less reverential.

Beauty Will Be Responsible

Dove's Real Beauty campaign, launched in 2004, started the conversation around "real beauty‟ by challenging the definition of beauty through its use of non-models in their advertisements. The campaign continues to educate young girls to counteract the limiting and unattainable beauty set forth by advertising and the media.5 The 2009 Newsweek article, “Generation Diva,” highlighted the beauty media's influential strength, pointing out that girls 11– 14 are subjected to some 500 advertisements a day, most of them featuring flawless beauty.6 According to a University of Minnesota study, staring at those airbrushed images from just one to three minutes a day can have a negative impact on girls' selfesteem.

In 2005, according to The NPD Group Inc., the average age a woman began using beauty products was 17; today it is 13.7 Experian Market Research shows that 43% of six- to nine-year-olds are already using lipstick or lip gloss, 38% use hairstyling products and 12% use other cosmetics.8 In addition, new statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reveal that cosmetic surgery procedures performed on those 18 and younger have nearly doubled in the past decade, and an article published by the YWCA states that 69% of people 18 and older are in favor of cosmetic surgery.

The Millennial generation is one “that primps, dyes, pulls and shapes, younger and with more vigor than ever before. Girls are salon vets before they enter elementary school.”9 The disturbing fact is that girls need to be concerned with education and personal development, not beauty, at this early age in life. By the time tweens reach their later years, they‟ll think unattainable perfection can be purchased, rather than appreciating their natural self. Pop star, Heidi Montag, had ten elective surgeries in one day at the young age of 23.10 If today's role models are mostly airbrushed and surgically altered women, isn't it time that we make beauty more responsible?

“Beauty Cares” Campaign: The future will not just be about responsible self-image but also about responsible social image. It is time for the beauty industry to communicate its position and commitment towards a safer, more socially responsible and sustainable tomorrow. As individual brands, we are all linked to the reputation of our industry, and our collective image must resonate with the images our companies and brands are trying to build.

It is easy to understand the social implications surrounding beauty, as we are constantly surrounded and influenced by it. How we look is indisputably linked to how we feel. Since the beginning of time, women have been striving to beautify themselves. Beauty is social, fun and indulgent. Most importantly, beauty is about power and aspiration. We believe that if we look better, our lives will be transformed. This is not just perception; there is concrete evidence that attractive people receive many advantages in our society. At its core, beauty is elevating, empowering, and caring. Our industry helps women feel smarter, more confident, and more human. To communicate this, the “Beauty Cares” initiative will be launched to highlight the beauty industry‟s efforts around the three core topics most relevant to the consumer of 2020—safety, sustainability and philanthropy. This will be achieved by expanding the current “Beauty Cares” campaign.

Safety is an important topic for the next decade. Consumers' interest in cosmetics that are good for them will continue to increase as beauty and health are increasingly linked. According to Datamonitor, 28% of consumers currently deliberately avoid certain cosmetics or toiletries because of fears over certain ingredients, and 39% are somewhat or extremely concerned about parabens or petrochemicals used in beauty product formulations. Furthermore, Grail Research states that 80% of consumers cite “natural” as the most important green attribute for cosmetic/toiletry products.

Consumers are also increasingly concerned with how companies and products impact the environment. According to Grail Research, 93% of consumers feel that a company being green is important to their purchase decision. However, most are either not aware or cannot recollect companies' green initiatives. Consumers also value brands that support causes—85% of Americans have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a good cause.11 Consumers are looking for information and need to be educated on our industry‟s safety, sustainability and philanthropy efforts.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2008 Annual Survey, manufacturers of beauty products consumed less than a third of the kilowatt hours of electricity relative to the average of other U.S. manufacturers. As for safety, FDA statistics confirm that cosmetics are one of the safest categories of products used by Americans: With more than 11 billion personal care products sold each year, only 150 adverse experiences (mostly skin rashes or allergies) have been reported.12 The industry is also very involved in philanthropy and contributes twice as much to charitable causes than any other industry. Each year, beauty companies donate over one million individual products and raise more than $2 million for cancer patients through the Look Good ...  Feel Better Program.13 Since the majority of consumers are not aware of these facts, isn‟t it time that the beauty industry told its side of the story?

Beauty Care’s EDUCARE: EDUCARE will be an in-school initiative designed to educate students ages nine through 12 on the value and impact of beauty wellness on health. During these years, students are mature enough to be exposed to these concepts and yet impressionable enough to develop healthy habits. The program will consist of three modules—Personal Care, Responsible Consumption and Holistic Health—starting in the fourth grade and concluding with the sixth grade. EDUCARE will be an extension of traditional in-school health programs and build upon their physical and nutritional lessons.

The first module will teach fourth grade students personal care. Topics surrounding grooming and good hygiene will be addressed at a time when children are beginning to experience hormonal changes. Students will learn how to care for their skin, develop cleansing and moisturizing regimens, as well as the importance of sun protection. In addition, students will be taught about ingredients and how to read labels. Products donated by beauty companies will help students practice proper habits.

In the fifth grade, students will participate in the Responsible Consumption module. U.S. consumption of food and personal care products has become a physical and environmental threat. Here, students will be guided through a product's life cycle, from conception, through distribution, and onto disposal, with the goal of intelligent reduction. Students will learn the impacts, both positive and negative, of consumerism with the objective of becoming more informed consumers.

The last module, Holistic Health, intersects students in the sixth grade. The focus is on health and beauty from within, appropriately following Personal Care and Responsible Consumption. With a growing multi-ethnic population and the continued growth of the Asian economies, students will be exposed to both Eastern and Western care methodologies. Students will learn about digestion, a central concept of Eastern medicines, and how it affects the way they look and feel. Social and emotional aspects, topics that will increasingly be part of traditional health by 2020, will also be incorporated.

With the beauty industry's support of EDUCARE, all parties will benefit. EDUCARE will result in: increased conversation and clarity surrounding the value of beauty care as health care; earned trust and respect for the beauty industry; informed decision-making and intelligent consumption; and ultimately self-confidence as each child learns how to attain “their best self.” After the national success of EDUCARE, the focus will shift to future consumers in developing markets.


As the industry approaches the future, our communication strategies must change between all parties—consumers, brands and industry. Conversations must be more real while maintaining aspiration. The dialogue must be reciprocal, and the brand must listen to the consumer to keep her engaged and loyal. Finally, the conversation must be more responsible. If, as a collective of brands, the hope is truly for a more prosperous tomorrow, future consumers must be more grounded in the benefits and possibilities of beauty.

The information above is the work of students in FIT's Master's Degree Program: Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management, and any reproduction or use of this material requires their written permission.

  1. M. Silverstein, K. Sayre: Women Want More
  2. B. Stevenson, J. Wolfers: The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness
  3. M. MIley, A. Mack: The New Female Consumer: The Rise of the Real Mom
  4. Life in 2020
  5. Unilever: Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty
  6. J. Bennett: Generation Diva
  7. J. Bennett: Generation Diva
  8. J. Bennett: Generation Diva
  9. J. Bennett: Generation Diva
  10. J. Garcia: Heidi Montag
  11. M. MIley, A. Mack: The New Female Consumer: The Rise of the Real Mom
  12. PCPC
  13. PCPC


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  • Data Monitor, November 2009. “Global Consumer Trends: Profiting in 2010 and Beyond.”
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