4 Min Read | 

2018 has proven that, when it comes to brands, bigger is not always better. Smaller and niche brands are currently at the forefront of the industry, driving changes that the global brand giants are struggling to keep up with. Major brands are reacting by absorbing these smaller players in buyouts designed to maintain market share and profits.

Consumer preferences are shifting towards more personable, reliable, safe and natural products; a trend that looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. In the second part of this two-part article we look at some more trends emerging in 2018.

1) Irritant-Fee Beauty

As the relationship between body health and skin health has become more apparent, 2018 sees the advance of zero irritant beauty products which address skin sensitivity from the inside out. The trend is forcing brands to re-think the way they promote their products as, while the inclusion of essential oils in beauty products was once popular selling points to consumers, essential oils have, in recent years, become a red flag ingredient. While many essential oils have individual benefits some also have the potential to irritate the skin and especially for consumers with sensitive skin. Many major brands will have to reevaluate the use of such irritants to ensure they maintain their consumer base.

One brand that’s reacting to the trend is Ayla. Their new product, Dara’s Oil, developed for them by formulator Marie Veronique Nadeau, is free from fragrance, essential oil, and tocopherol, (a form of vitamin E widely used in natural beauty formulations and a potential irritant). Whilst not every essential oil should be demonised, brands must endeavour to educate their consumers on what is beneficial and safe for their skin. Brands such as Oille use the essential oils in their purest form to ensure they are not toxic to the skin and likely to cause irritation when consumers use their products.

2) The Rise Of White-Label Products.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected trends to emerge has been the decline of branding and the rise of the white-label product. Recent years has seen increasing customer frustration over the hidden costs behind branding and marketing; opening up a new market for these brand-less products.

Numerous new companies have begun to offer premium quality personal care and beauty products at just a fraction of the price of branded alternatives. These white-label products offer similar quality as branded versions but without the associated expensive packaging and marketing and are generally distributed direct to the consumer.

A few companies have been quick to notice the trend and have released their own versions of popular products. Brandless is a company that sells unbranded beauty and personal care products directly to the consumer; dispensing with the frills and enticing marketing of brand-name products, their affordability has seen a growing rise in sales with products starting at $3 USD. Viewed as a crossover between dollar store and bespoke private bands their business model looks set to disrupt the consumer-packaged goods industry.

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3) Beyond Transparency For Naturals & Organics

Products that claim to be natural or organic will come under increasing scrutiny as consumers demand total transparency on the list of ingredients whether they’re purchasing lipstick or facial cleansers. The trend applies to basic beauty essentials just as much as bespoke designer products as consumers look for natural products which contain zero toxins from brands who are 100% transparent about their ingredients and processes.

The next step-up is for brands to develop a global approach, developing a social ethos and using their influence and profits to make a difference on a bigger scale. This could see them donating profits or products or employing locals and investing in the local community.

Brands such as Stella McCartney, Adidas and Patagonia have developed high profiles as organizations that use an innovative approach to resolve global issues. As brands they’ve created new materials and products that recycle ocean waste, or actively take civic action to protect and preserve the environment.

4) Back To Basics

In previous articles we’ve touched upon the introduction and prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) influencing the direction of the beauty industry. In attempting to remain relevant retailers have been keen to jump on the bandwagon, embracing the latest tech trends. But many consumers are now viewing such technology as a gimmick. The trick here is for retailers to know their audience. Embracing AR can be a tricky realm to navigate, given that it is aimed towards changing a person’s physical appearance.

Whilst tech-driven retail concepts will inevitably open in 2019, we are increasingly seeing a move towards the more traditional approach where consumers want the focus wholly on the product. This back-to-basics approach was at the heart of the launch of Fenty Beauty by Rihanna in Harvey Nichols. The launch had a sole focus on the product and without any AI or VR, yet people still queued around the block for months after the initial launch.

Given the interrelationship of the current beauty trends in 2018, it seems clear that consumers are consistently looking to brands who embrace transparency and who will offer them clean, no frills products which don’t depend on gimmicks for sales.

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