Beauty Focus 2011 – socially mobile

The fifth Beauty Focus conference shed light on the latest C&T industry trends and the line-up of knowledgeable speakers didn’t disappoint. Katie Middleweek and Emma Reinhold report from the event, organised by SPC, ECM & cosmeticsbusiness.com

The fifth Beauty Focus conference shed light on the latest C&T industry trends and the line-up of knowledgeable speakers didn’t disappoint. Katie Middleweek and Emma Reinhold report from the event, organised by SPC, ECM & cosmeticsbusiness.com

The fifth Beauty Focus conference (organised by SPC, ECM and cosmeticsbusiness.com and sponsored by Sederma and Croda) was held in the heart of London on 12 April and was attended by cosmetics professionals eager to learn what new trends and issues lie in store.

The morning sessions concentrated on the themes of Trends & Directions and Social Media & Communication. The first talk to kick off proceedings was given by Carrie Lennard from Euromonitor International speaking on the subject of The global post-recession beauty industry: a survival guide. Lennard discussed the influence the global recession has had on beauty spending, revealing that increasingly thrifty lifestyles have led to more considered purchasing but that 2010 has seen a strong rebound for the beauty industry.

“There has been a big revival in premium cosmetics, especially in the skin care arena. The US and France are very improved markets but debt is holding back growth in general,” said Lennard.

“The BRIC countries are still showing good growth but Russia has slowed down slightly. China is still the one to watch with a 16% growth in premium cosmetics in 2010. Private label is still gaining ground but growth here has slowed slightly while the market for super premium products has been largely unaffected by the credit crunch.”

Lennard also discussed the overall increase in fragrance sales worldwide, spearheaded by the increased use of such products in Latin America’s mass market channels.

She added: “In terms of the outlook for the future, Latin America is a key driver as mass fragrance sales have really taken off here, along with deodorants which are often used in place of fragrance products as they are less expensive.

Brid Costello (Mintel) identified three key beauty trends: Prepare for the worst, Turbo Beauty 4G and Garden State

“We also expect to see growth in South Africa, Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as in Africa and the Middle East as a whole with the skin care category in particular tipped for continued growth.”


Understanding consumers

Next up was Mintel’s Brid Costello whose fascinating presentation, Understanding today’s beauty consumer, detailed key areas dominating the beauty consumer today.

“We have identified three key trends which today’s consumers can identify with and we have categorised these as Prepare for the worst, Turbo Beauty 4G and Garden State.”

Costello explained that the rather downbeat title of the first trend recognised the fact that UK customers in particular were fearful of the future economic climate and so were squirreling money away for the future. There has also been a decrease in smoking observed in the UK and the US and young people have also been seen using anti-ageing creams in a very preventative fashion in a bid to hold back the hands of time.

She added that Turbo Beauty 4G highlighted the use of leading high technology ingredients that are appearing in C&T products in increasing numbers. “Areas of note here are stem cells, animal derived placentas and epidermal growth factor. The latter is a peptide which is especially popular in the Asia Pacific region and we have seen it used in DHC EGF Cream and Shiseido’s Uara Multi Vitalising Emulsion.”

Garden State refers to the relationship that consumers have with natural and organic products, with research showing that the majority of UK consumers are not convinced that these types of products are any better for them than non-natural ones, said Costello.


The social setting

The second half of the morning was dedicated to social media, a subject that has really dominated headlines and captured interest in the past year. The session was opened by social media consultant Richard Stacy who gave a dynamic presentation on What is social media, why it is important and what you need to do about it.

Stacy began by going back to basics claiming: “The Gutenberg Revolution of hundreds of years ago set the trend for getting information out into the public domain with the use of the written word. From that point information was in effect married to distribution with distribution wearing the trousers in the relationship.

“Now, with the advent of social media it costs almost nothing to get information into the public domain and therefore content has been liberated in a way like never before.”

He said that contrary to popular opinion, facebook, twitter and YouTube are not actually forms of social media, rather they are tools which should operate around a social media hub. He then compared and contrasted social media and a traditional information medium – advertising.

“An advert is like a fireworks display,” he explained “the contents of which is explosive but brief, whereas social media can be likened to a bonfire which can be kept going indefinitely and at little cost.”

Social media, explained Stacy, definitely has a part to play in the beauty industry but it must be used in the correct way. “Companies must get across their brand story when using social media and this must include the three Cs of conversation, content and community. Conversation covers listening to what is being said and responding appropriately; content refers to having a separate space for posting, connecting and navigating content; and community refers to what I think is going to be the next big thing.”

The future of social media, as Stacy sees it, will involve individuals forming communities to manage their interaction with brands as they certainly do not want to be managed by brands.

Next to take to the floor were Mike Ramseyer and Sean Smith of mymarketmonitor.com. Smith gave a live interactive demonstration of how social media can be tracked by clients wishing to know what blogs, facebook and twitter feeds they are appearing on. Using their online social media service as a live example, Smith showed how the medium can facilitate social commerce and maintain and improve the reputation of a brand.

Smith feels that companies increasingly want to listen to what is being said about them or their competitors and this is a service it currently offers to many clients including the L’Oréal UK group.

“We know that previously the media used to influence the consumer but now the consumer influences the consumer and using our tool we are able to create and refine a search on anything at all,” said Smith.

He then demonstrated a search on day creams which showed which conversations and phrases were being mentioned by social mediums that included the term day creams. Refining this search further he showed a phrase cloud highlighting any product that had come up when a certain brand was mentioned, so in the case of L’Oréal, it was its Age Re-Perfect Pro Calcium Day Cream receiving the most mentions.

Filters can be set up indicating positive and negative mentions but this of course throws up challenges, one being that computers do not recognise irony, though Smith said the tool was being modified all the time.

Last in this session was blogger Jane Cunningham, who blogs under the title British Beauty Blogger and whose blog received its one millionth hit earlier this month.

Many delegates were fascinated to hear what someone from the cutting edge of blogging had to say about the social medium that has got everyone talking.

Cunningham said she started her blog as a way to talk about the beauty products which she didn’t have the time or print space to write about in her day job as a beauty writer and described how things grew from there.

“First of all I blogged anonymously,” she explained “and then another journalist outed me so then people knew who I was, but this is something I have learned to be more relaxed about. The blog has really taken off and I am now turning down paid editorial work in order to commit more time to maintaining it and it has developed from being a 20 minutes a day hobby to a sometimes four hours a day task.”

But she went on to say how flattering it was that nearly 100,000 people a month rely on your opinion and seek your beauty advice so she feels a duty to provide uninfluenced, honest opinion at all times. “Consumers look to blogs to get an honest opinion which is undiluted by advertising so I try and give a truthful take on something as it is my job to tell not sell.”

While she admitted she may need to take more advertising in the future, Cunningham was adamant that she would never feel influenced to give positive reviews, even if she were to carry an advert from a brand. “Understandably brands do not like negative coverage but they realise if they send a product in to be reviewed, this is the risk they take. And even if I do post some negative remarks this is not done out of spite and we can in fact be their quality control and a very valuable resource in my opinion.”

Cunningham believes it would be much harder to start a blog now as the market is rapidly approaching saturation and some blogs are closing. “I think we will see a falling by the wayside of some of the less successful blogs while there will be more reliance on superblogs.”


Filling the niche: Bulldog and Mama Mio
In Niche brand success stories: Brands that have found a perfect niche and turned it into a major success story, the founders of two British brands, Bulldog and Mama Mio gave a fascinating insight into their experiences of creating a niche brand and what drove them to embark on the journey in the first place.
Simon Duffy, co-founder of natural male grooming brand Bulldog has seen his company grow from a tiny start-up, which he created with friend Rhodri Ferrier in 2005, to the fastest growing male grooming brand in the UK, stocked in over 4,000 outlets worldwide and boasting a sales turnover of £2.1m in 2010.
“We saw a gap in the market for natural men’s grooming,” Duffy explained. “Natural beauty brands were not focused on men and were not found in places where men would shop. Everything else for men got lost in a sea of sameness. The Bulldog brand has been created for men by men and we approached the concept as regular men rather than marketers. The real challenge now is to get men to buy into moisturising every day.”
The no-nonsense, unconventional approach the brand exudes has also won it a clutch of awards and recognition from the BUAV, the only male skin care brand to have achieved this accolade.
Mama Mio co-founder Sian Sutherland had one ambitious goal for the brand she founded with three friends in 2005: to be the most recommended skin care brand in the world.
“Small brands have big opportunities, particularly in hard economic times, and we wanted to build our business in a different way – we wanted to use our small size as an asset,” she explained.
Mama Mio has grown from a brand targeting pregnant women, a small niche, to a brand targeting every woman with the launch this month of Mama Mio Face. It also has a presence in over 1,500 stores and five star spas.
Sutherland explained that as a small brand, Mama Mio has had to look beyond traditional physical retail concepts to expand its presence and has found the internet a key ally. She told delegates that 30% of Mama Mio’s worldwide turnover is made through internet sales and she is aiming to boost this figure to 50% in the next two years.
“Online is a totally level playing field. You can create the world you want without the constraints of traditional retail,” she said. “We are feeling more confident about doing things our way which therefore strengthens the brand.”


Finding your niche

The afternoon session kicked off with a look at beauty’s maverick sector – the niche brand. Stirling Murray, founder of The Red Tree, a consultancy firm specialising in this area, explained that niche brands had the biggest opportunity to create an emotional relationship with consumers, a value he believes is the most important a brand can possess in order to be successful.

Stirling Murray pointed to Bourjois as a niche brand that has gone on to become a major global player

In The beauty of niche Murray told delegates that although niche brands were very different from mainstream brands certain rules applied to both when it comes to success.

“In order to achieve longevity and consumer loyalty brands need to provide a neural short circuit to purchase, to become so associated with a particular area or product that the consumer does not think about the alternatives available; Heinz tomato soup is a great example,” he said. Murray also encouraged listeners to overcome brand blindness and make their brand offering stand out while staying true to its DNA.

“A USP is at the heart of every successful niche brand,” he explained. “Maintaining a consistent brand equity and a strong brand personality whilst staying true to your roots is the key to success.”

Murray cited Original Mint Source, now owned by PZ Cussons; Burt’s Bees, which was acquired by Clorox in 2008;Bourjois; and MAC, now part of the Estée Lauder empire, as examples of niche brands that have followed this mantra and have made it on to the global beauty stage.

“Making a niche brand successful is not easy; it takes time and is hard work but if you have passion it is possible,” concluded Murray. Demonstrating this were case studies from Bulldog and Mama Mio (p46-47).


Innovation & inspiration

Moving from niche to innovation and inspiration, George Hammer, chairman of the Urban Retreat Group echoed the sentiment that from little acorns grow mighty trees in his presentation Defining the innovation process & triggers for success.

“Every business I have been involved in has been a start-up and I’ve learnt that having a killer idea is not enough,” he said.

Hammer added that a successful concept had to be easy to understand and able to be described in one sentence. “Does it sell itself or does it need an explanation? And does it really need to be launched? Innovation without purpose will not work. Creativity doesn’t have to be cool or trendy but innovation has to be about substance and it has to be about taking a risk.”

And taking a risk has certainly proved invaluable for Hammer who discussed his many successes in the beauty field including the creation of The Sanctuary, the UK’s first day spa; bringing Aveda to the UK; the launch of the Ruby & Millie colour cosmetics brand; and the creation of Urban Retreat, a ‘super salon’ bringing all aspects of the salon experience under one very luxurious roof. He has also taken a philanthropic approach with the launch of all for eve, a beauty range interlinked with ovarian charity The Eve Appeal. Hammer launched the brand following the death of his sister-in-law from ovarian cancer and 100% of the profits go to the charity.

George Hammer shows how a good idea can be built into a successful beauty brand

With his latest venture, Urban Retreat at Home, Hammer hopes to revolutionise the mobile therapy market, taking it upmarket with properly trained therapists and access to luxury brands.

“Innovation takes time and I will have to wait for five years to see if it works but for me the next wave of innovation will be in new channels of distribution. There is a genuine niche here. People always say home distribution is downmarket but that’s because it is at the moment – it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Looking at innovation in packaging, Steve Gibbons, md brand and packaging design company, Dew Gibbons showcased a number of varied innovations in packaging.

“The word innovation can be quite daunting to the beauty packaging world. It’s very hard to categorise and can range from turning a business model on its head to create a totally relaunched product, in the case of the Nespresso coffee franchise, to something brilliantly simple such as Vaseline’s introduction of Lip Therapy pots. It was the same product just in a smaller format.”

Gibbons referred to a number of packaging innovations which ranged from ergonomic innovation, where the packaging becomes part of the product, in the case of Dito nail varnishes and Dior’s Diorshow 360 rotating mascara, to product delivery innovation, including rollerball dispensers and LED technology combined with a lip product to ensure the user can use the product in the dark.

The environment and packaging have never been easy bedfellows but new technologies are enabling packaging companies to create more sustainable beauty solutions. “Packaging is part of the luxury experience so it’s a difficult area for some brands,” said Gibbons. “Beauty brands are trying and working in this area but no great innovations have been made yet.

He suggested the beauty industry could take inspiration from the home care market where eco packaging such as cardboard bottles, dehydrated products such as laundry tablets and tactile recyclable paperboard are reducing waste and the packaging needed to contain a product.


Delegate comments
• “I thought the agenda was great and I found everything useful.”
• “The best Beauty Focus ever. I learnt something from each speaker, all of whom are leaders in their field.”
• “Great networking!”


Inspiration is also widely available in the ingredients sector and Barbara Brockway, scientific advisor, IMCD took a fascinating tour of the latest innovations for skin care. From meteorite powder to bacteria, the inspiration for new beauty solutions is as unusual as it is varied.

Brockway highlighted the strong market trend for active ingredients that also deliver instant effects, illustrating this with a number of examples including diamond powder, which can help scatter light and disguise the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and fermented capsicum, which helps raise skin temperature and increase blood circulation, improving skin tone.

“The popularity of Botox has also had a strong influence on product development and there are numerous products on the market now,” she said.

Looking ahead Brockway noted the importance of anti-ageing peptides, SIR genes, stem cells and growth factors in skin care and the role of biotechnology in creating a new generation of active cosmetic ingredients. “The sky really is the limit when it comes to skin care innovation and suppliers have the tools to create some really amazing products.”

Beauty Focus will be back in 2012 so please let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to include in the line-up.


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