This article was originally published in The Future of Beauty Trend Report. Receive your copy here
As 2024 rolls in, beauty remains firmly in the eye of the consumer.
In the UK, for example, sales were up 8%, while volumes rose by 2% according to Kantar’s figures for the year ending 15 October 2023.
“People are buying more packs than they did last year in beauty, which in a cost of living crisis is a strong performance,” says Matt Maxwell, Kantar’s Strategic Insight Director.
Nevertheless, Circana has been recently tracking new signs of a volume decline in some parts of Europe, notably across France and Germany.
Some kind of slowdown may be inevitable for a category that has been on blazing form for the past two years, yet beauty is still expected to remain a good place to play, and brands have new expectations to meet.
“In 2024, beauty products will be expected to enhance your health and beauty,” says Rohan Widdison, CEO of cosmetics manufacturer New Laboratories, noting that consumers will increasingly desire products and routines that cater to individual needs.
Yet the emphasis is now not so much on creating formulations for specific individuals as it is on formulations that meet a particular need-state at a particular time.
Beauty brands that can meet the increasingly functional and multifaceted role that beauty can play in consumers’ lives, and offer tangible, evidence-backed results, will gain an edge in 2024 and beyond.
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Trend 1: Skin longevity
'Longevity’ may have been one of 2023’s most popular buzzwords, but it has also become a rapidly growing industry, one that is poised to have a profound impact on beauty and wellness in the future.
The growing interest in longevity reflects how consumers are seeking out ways to live better for longer, and is a more progressive way of looking at ageing.
For the skin care industry, this offers a very positive story for product concepts. Yet this is no fluffy trend – the longevity industry is science-backed to the hilt.
High-level research and investment in longevity science is already impacting new innovations in the category, taking anti-ageing skin care to the brink of change, and now, longevity scientists are raising the bar with an approach that makes skin biologically younger.
Trend 2: Ultra-luxe beauty
A trend across hospitality and fashion is seeing the truly affluent pay even more for ultra-luxury experiences and creations, and it’s coming to beauty.
As the mass, prestige and luxury beauty markets continue to converge, luxury beauty brands are now looking closely at how they can be more distinctive in how they differentiate, says Emma Chiu, Global Director at Wunderman Thompson: “More people can afford luxury today, so we are now seeing this next level of ultra-luxe.”
WGSN's Head of Beauty Sienna Piccioni adds: “There is a growing desire amongst wealthy consumers and exclusive clientele for something truly special.
“Luxury is now not enough and if this sector of consumers are willing to spend over £1000 on their beauty purchases, they want a unique and exclusive complete 360 experience.”
Trend 3: Mindset make-overs
We've seen ‘vanilla girl’, ‘strawberry girl’ and pretty much every flavour of aesthetic in between: 2023’s beauty trends have fed into Gen Z’s desire to switch in and out of different aesthetics as frequently as they choose.
But another trend has been bubbling under the surface this year too, one that presents a shift away from using beauty products purely for self-expression to using beauty products to purposely change how we can feel.
Stephanie Lee, founder and CEO of psychodermatology brand Selfmade says that Gen Z take their beauty routines beyond the confines of their vanities, as an intentional ritual that extends into conversations with their family members and friends about how they take care of themselves to feel good and feel better.
“This is a critical aspect of the new culture of beauty and why self-expression with cosmetics and fragrance isn’t enough anymore,” says Lee.
This step-change will have a significant impact on the beauty industry moving forwards, influencing how brands formulate products to the marketing messages that they share.
Trend 4: Generative AI
Generative AI has just had its breakout year. Since over a million people signed up to use ChatGPT in its first five days of public release, generative AI tools, that can create new content and other media from large sets of data have entered the mainstream, while across industries the uptake of the technology has been rapid.
While 2023 has seen brands start to experiment with the technology, it is expected to supercharge the beauty industry in the year ahead.
Wayne Liu, Chief Growth Officer at AI and AR solutions company Perfect Corp, says: “As we look to the future into 2024 and beyond, generative AI will be at the forefront of technology innovation and will continue to enable new and exciting experiences in beauty.”
This trend highlights four key ways that that gen AI will impact beauty in 2024: from enhancing creativity and increasing tailored recommendations, to boosting marketing productivity and advancing try-on tools.
Trend 5: The wellness takeover of mass retail
When Gwyneth Paltrow says that she would love to meet up with you in Target to introduce you to her new line, it’s a sure sign that wellness has come to the masses.
An Instagram post from the Goop founder last month highlighted the debut of the brand’s more affordable diffusion line, Good.Clean.Goop, into the mass market US retail chain.
The example illustrates how many mainstream retailers including Target are prioritising wellness lines as they head into 2024, to further capitalise on the dynamic sales and consumer demand they have experienced this year in the category.
But as mass beauty retailers devote more shelf space to wellness lines in 2024, this article explores what this will mean for beauty brands.
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