This article was originally published in the Collaborations Trend Report. Receive your copy here
In 2023, beauty collaborations are everywhere, with brands joining forces across categories to cut through the noise, drive interest, and reach new customers.
Collaborations have long held their place within beauty as a popular marketing strategy, but over the past year, there has been a surge in demand for, and roll-out of creative partnerships.
It's a popular strategy: as many as 71% of consumers enjoy co-branding partnerships according to a survey by Visual Objects.
The limited lifespans of co-branded collections sync particularly well with the TikTok generation, and their appetite for fun, fast-moving trends, and they also give brands a way to work around what WGSN calls the “ongoing attention recession” - overstimulated consumers who are engaging in advertising avoidance.
Collaborations enable brands to leverage each other’s audiences, as well as their brand identities and characteristics, to create something new and desirable.
Danielle Marshall, Group Director of B. The Communications Agency says: “It’s often the limited edition nature of these collaborations and the emotions they evoke that drive this desirability. Exclusivity is key – once it’s gone, it’s gone!”
60% of consumers purchase due to a fear of missing out on products being available (source: TrustPulse) so the sense of exclusivity and scarcity generated by their limited edition nature can create significant demand, if the collaboration is seen as desirable.
A case in point: Pat McGrath’s lipstick collab with Supreme sold out in 8.2 seconds, reselling afterwards for 225% of its original price.
However, its latest collaboration with Gen Z jeans brand American Eagle garnered the highest impressions of any of its collaborations to date: 7 billion.
Laurie Lam, Chief Brand Officer at e.l.f. Beauty, tells Cosmetics Business: “Our collaborations are about the magic that happens at the intersection of both brands. Our willingness to take risks, dive headfirst into uncharted territories, and learn by doing has allowed us to capture lightning in a bottle repeatedly, creating a sense of excitement and novelty.”
Stacy Jones, founder and CEO of Hollywood Branded, a Los Angeles pop culture marketing agency who recently worked on the Elemis x Queen Charlotte (Netflix) partnership adds: “Collaborations we work on continually demonstrate the potential to significantly impact the revenue and performance of the companies involved. When executed effectively, collaborations can lead to substantial sales growth.”
Now, new trends are broadening the beauty collaboration landscape. “It’s no longer just about the products; it’s about creating experiences and connections that resonate on a deeper level,” says Lam.
In this report, Cosmetics Business explores five trends that are taking collaborations to the next level, and increasingly, beyond the world of beauty.
Trends will be revealed in detail throughout August exclusively to subscribers, so don't miss out and subscribe.
Trend 1: Blockbuster beauty: can brands avoid 'collab fatigue'?
It was becoming hard to think of a brand that hadn’t launched a Barbie-inspired collection.
From Primark to Pür, dozens of players across the beauty industry and beyond debuted limited edition products inspired by one of the most anticipated summer movies of 2023.
But while Barbie has been the protagonist of 2023’s brand collabs, there has been a raft of partnerships with other movie and TV series, and a sense that a new peak has been reached after building for several years.
This trend explores whether there's a danger of consumers experiencing ‘collab fatigue’. When it comes to blockbuster x beauty collabs, does ‘x’ no longer mark the point of difference, but a space in which limited edition launches can get lost?
Trend 2: Mixing fragrance and flavour
A growing appetite for immersive and multi-sensory experiences has sparked a trend that is seeing fragrance brands translate their perfume notes into exclusive cocktails and culinary treats.
With over 90% of consumers more likely to purchase a product or service after experiencing the brand, according to an EventTrack study, imaginative collaborations that bring a brand to life are becoming a key strategy for many companies.
And in perfumery, giving consumers a new way to experience a fragrance, and engaging the use of multiple senses when doing so, provides an intriguing and cohesive brand experience – one that brands including Kayali, Penhaligon's, Floral Street and Jo Loves are exploring through their creative collaborations with bars and cafés.
Trend 3: 5 unexpected brand collaborations
A trend for beauty collaborations from the world of wacky is on the rise, and even the biggest brand fans never saw these coming.
Who can forget Fenty’s ‘Ketchup or Makeup’ collaboration with art collective MSCHF last year, a divisive innovation which even the most die-hard Fenty fans could never have predicted?
Or Nail’s Inc’s partnership with US cheese brand Velveeta for a limited edition polish duo, which became one of Nails Inc’s most successful launches ever.
Collaborations thrive on the element of surprise, and the beauty industry has seen its fair share of unique, and even utterly bizarre partnerships over the years.
But demand for surprising and bizarre collaborations is growing even further in 2023, and beauty brands are delivering, taking their unexpected collaborations to new heights. This trend rounds up some of the quirkiest collabs in beauty.
Trend 4: Where art meets beauty
There has long been an intimate connection between worlds of beauty, perfume and art: The Shiseido Gallery, which the cosmetics giant opened in 1919, is the oldest art gallery still operating in Japan, while Estée Lauder has been a benefactor of art museums for decades.
Collaborations between fragrance and cosmetics brands, and artists or art institutions, on limited edition products featuring unique packaging designs, or even formulas inspired by their works, have been a popular expression of this connection.
But the latest trend is seeing collaborations move in a more experimental direction.
Sara Jones, Business Director and co-founder of Free The Birds says: “The collaboration space between art and beauty is witnessing some exciting trends.
“Beauty brands are increasingly incorporating art into their offerings through limited editions featuring unique artwork or artefacts, while immersive brand activations, such as pop-up galleries and interactive exhibits, provide multi-sensory experiences blurring the boundaries between art and beauty products.”
Trend 5: Collaboration over competition: why indie brands are working together
The concept of ‘collaboration over competition’ is not a new one for the beauty industry.
Most visibly, cosmetics and personal care companies are seen working together on sustainability initiatives, such as the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition, the EcoBeautyScore consortium and Cosmetic Europe’s Commit for Our Planet project.
Less widely publicised are the ways in which beauty brands collaborate together for other purposes, such as sharing content, advice and saving on costs. But they do, and it’s more common than many people think.
This trend investigates the growing culture of collaboration within the beauty industry, and particularly among indie brands, as they explore the benefits of working together.
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