We all knew this year wasn’t going to be smooth sailing for anyone. But within the waves of renewed uncertainty, beauty brands have continued to prove resilient to crisis, and we’ve seen the signs of an industry shift towards new ways of doing things. From embracing cryptocurrency to launching social commerce brands, beauty is very much changing with the times.
As we approach the last few days of the year, attention is turning to the future — so, as global markets remain in flux, what can we expect from beauty brands in 2022? There are several key social and marketing trends that all brands need to know about, as the industry moves to meet the needs of future consumers.
- We’ll Enter A Golden Age For Dermocosmetics
According to research from Euromonitor in November 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic is creating an ideal opportunity for dermocosmetics brands to gain traction. As people grapple with the heightened sense of risk, there’s intensified consumer desire for safety and science. Which is why the mass dermocosmetics category has outpaced premium since 2019, growing quickly because brands within this segment can demonstrate its efficacy through evidence-backed claims.
As a growing number of affordable science-based beauty and personal care brands find their position in the market, they’re pushing the premium end of the segment into a corner — it’s harder to justify a high price point based on dermatologist-approved formulas, because there are now cheaper (but equally science-based) options readily available.
Beauty brands wanting to tap into the demand for professionally recommended scientific skincare could consider collaborating with dermatologists as micro-influencers — building authority and credibility that the new wave of information-driven consumers can trust.
- Consumers Will Boycott Brands That Sell Them False Promises On Sustainability
Brands accused of greenwashing will have an increasingly bleak future, with a beauty buyer backlash against the use of sustainability as a marketing tool — without any solid effort to actually be sustainable behind the scenes.
A study published this month by women’s wellness activists, as part of a campaign called Mamavation, found that green beauty brands are no better than mainstream brands when it comes to contamination with chemicals that remain in the environment indefinitely (PFAS, or ‘forever chemicals’).
As researchers dig deeper into the inner workings of sustainable brands, consumers will have access to accurate data about whether or not those brands are delivering on the promises made in their marketing campaigns. And in a culture where consumers are tired of being sold false promises, the brands that can’t show the evidence behind the claims just won’t fly.
In 2022, beauty consumers will want to see the beauty brands they love doing more to minimize their environmental impact. And they’ll turn away from brands that talk the talk without walking the walk.
- Crypto Cosmetics Will Settle More Comfortably Into Consumer Psychology
I’ve talked a lot about crypto this year, but I won’t stop talking about in 2022 — because more and more brands and beauty influencers will lean into the possibilities of cryptocurrency, and create new ways of working with NFTs, social tokens, and blockchain.
This year, we got to experience the world’s first digital fragrance from Rook Perfumes, as perfumers and tech developers worked together to create the ‘scent of the metaverse.’
In 2022, I expect to see rapid growth in the uptake of crypto across the industry, and innovation in its use potential — from supporting product education through blockchain ingredients libraries, like the one EM Cosmetics is developing, to offering new digital products that allow beauty consumers to invest in the brands they love.
Reports suggest that wariness of cryptocurrency in general is beginning to fade. A study, by the Stellar Development Foundation and PYMNTS, found that 23% of 8 million adults surveyed, who made online payments to friends or family in other countries, used at least one kind of cryptocurrency. And 13% said cryptocurrencies were their most used payment method for international transfers. Right now, crypto remains a point of skepticism for many, but that’s going to change quickly as lower fees and better security win over more of the world’s population. And as people come round to crypto, beauty brands will have more freedom to offer their customers new ways of paying, new ways of investing, and new ways of interacting with products, influencers, and with brands themselves.
- The Pandemic Will Drive A Global Interest In Mental Health
And beauty brands will need to respond. Countries around the world are predicting a mental health crisis as a result of the anxiety and isolation caused by Covid-19. And for beauty brands, this means a wave of consumers who are tuned in to mental health messaging, and who will support the brands that also support them.
As an industry, beauty will need to distance itself from negative perceptions about its influence on mental health. Known for cultivating unhealthy beauty ideals and contributing to comparison culture, beauty needs to step up and change the narrative around brand/consumer relationships.
Central to this will be a focus on wellness, with beauty brands positioning themselves in the realm of holistic wellbeing. The trend for wellness and beauty to intersect has been growing for some time, and 2022 will be the moment for brands to hone in on what they can do to uplift and support their customers at every level; from developing nourishing product formulas, to investing in digital wellness services that turn an online interaction with a brand into a positive experience for the customer.
- Influencer Marketing Will Dip Its Toes In The Metaverse
Among the reasons for brands to invest in digital wellness is the expansion of the metaverse. And as people spend more time in digital spaces, and carry out more of their daily activities online, influencer marketing will also start to shift away from traditional social media and into the metaverse.
Over the next 12 months I’ve no doubt we’ll see beauty brands experiment with influencer-based experiences in the metaverse — probably starting with some combination of VR interactions and NFT or social token sales, along with the emergence of more digital avatars. Fashion brands including Prada, Puma, and Yoox, are already creating avatars that can interact with customers online. And as Vogue Business recently pointed out, influencers will play a key role in enticing the public to engage with the metaverse.
Research this year from influencer marketing firm Mediakix suggests that brands will spend as much as USD $15 billion annually on influencers by 2022, compared to $8 billion in 2019. And more and more of that spend will be dedicated to virtual influencers — over 50 brand avatars were launched on social media between January 2019 and June 2020. Tracking site Virtual Humans notes that there are now at least 150 active digital avatars working for brands online — including YUMI, the digital face of skincare brand SK-II.
- Privacy Will Be A Puzzle For Brand Advertisers
Digital advertising and online user data have grown together, and brands know the effectiveness of their ads is heavily reliant on the quality of the data they have access to. But governments around the world are introducing more data legislation, and tech providers are rolling out privacy features for their users — like privacy reporting on the new iOS update. Which means that both individual consumers and regional powers will tighten up on the data available to advertisers.
It’s unclear how much this will affect beauty brand advertising just yet, but it’s going to be one of the key puzzles of 2022. For now, advertisers need to make sure they understand the changes that apply to them, and develop ways to connect directly and authentically with their audience.
- Blue Beauty Could Boom
Have you heard of blue beauty yet? It’s finding its way into beauty conversations, but so far it hasn’t taken off from a consumer perspective. It’s the new movement in sustainable beauty, with emphasis on the ocean. According to WWF, a truck full of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute.
“A lot of people associated blue with ocean-friendly. And that is a part of it, but there’s more to it. Blue Beauty brands are making sure their products are safe for the environment – which includes being ocean safe as well as sustainably sourced, minimising carbon footprint etc. – but are also looking at ways their practices are contributing back to and having a net positive effect on the environment.”
Reducing plastic pollution is the main goal of the blue consumer movement, and brands of all sizes are getting on board with this. Estée Lauder has pledged that by 2025, between 75 and 100% of its packaging will be recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled or recoverable; and L’Oréal has partnered with Carbios, a pioneer in bioplastics, to develop more sustainable product packaging.
- Buy Now, Pay Later Will Come Into Its Own
Right now, with December shopping in full swing, all signs are pointing to the continued expansion of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) facilities across consumer product industries, including beauty. In the US, CNBC reported early in the month that 7% of shoppers said they’ll be using BNPL for holiday purchases this year, and this trend is echoed in other parts of the world. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Dubai-based BNPL firm Postpay recorded significant growth in conversion rates this year — between 20 and 50% depending on the type of retailer — following a $10 million investment from Australian BNPL giant, Afterpay.
Experts point to the pandemic as a key driver behind the boom of this credit card alternative. The majority of BNPL users are Millenial and Gen Z, because they’ve come of age in difficult financial times, and are less likely to get credit than their parents’ generation.
But BNPL is also just very, very convenient — the brands that use it do so seamlessly, making it very easy for consumers to select BNPL at checkout. It’s also very easy to see when and how you’ll have to make your payments, adding an element of predictability that today’s beauty consumers are drawn to. “It’s not necessarily that you don’t have much money, or you don’t have much credit, although that is sometimes the case,” Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, told CNBC; “I think more than anything it’s the predictability that certain people are drawn to. [That] again relates to young adults.”
- Transparency Will Remain Top Of Mind
Transparency has come up a lot throughout 2021. Beauty consumers, along with more or less the entirety of the world’s population, have been pushed to assess the environmental and social impact of their purchasing choices — and more than ever, they want to put their money into brands that are clear about what’s in their products, where their ingredients come from, and who they work with.
The demand for brand transparency isn’t going to ease off in 2022. Consumers are educating themselves, both about product formulas and about broader brand ethics — they know which issues they care about, and they’re increasingly adept at navigating data and asking the right questions to find out what’s really going on behind the scenes.
Environment, Tech, & Telling The Truth
The next 12 months is going to be an important one for brands to ensure they’re trusted by consumers — answering the demand for truth and advocacy, while providing beauty users with appealing and effective products.
And there’s no hiding from tech in 2022. Some brands will take a slow-living analogue approach, connecting with those consumers who are wary of digital change, and responding to public nostalgia for simpler times. Others will head full-throttle into the metaverse, and develop new ways of making and selling beauty products to digitally curious customers. But whatever their position, every brand’s perspective and messaging around tech is going to play into their future — this isn’t the year to not have an opinion.
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