The return of the middle market

Published: 3-Dec-2012

Contrary to ongoing reports of a booming prestige beauty market, the industry has recently seen a slew of new brands and products move into the re-emerging middle market.

Contrary to ongoing reports of a booming prestige beauty market, the industry has recently seen a slew of new brands and products move into the re-emerging middle market. New research from SymphonyIRI reveals that the continued growth of the prestige and mass beauty markets has led to a polarised industry, marked by a growing absence of mid-tier products.

"I think the market for highly efficacious products at a price point that's accessible has a lot of room for development – which is exactly why I've gone in there," said Maleka Dattu, founder, Merumaya Integrative Effective Skincare. Dattu, who was previously gm of Estee Lauder in the UK, launched Merumaya in October, and will be rolling it out into John Lewis department stores from January 2013. The anti-ageing range combines a Signature Essence Blend, claimed to restore confidence and provide sensory pleasure, along with high-tech actives to both reduce existing signs of ageing and help prevent future signs.

Products in the range are priced from £12.50 to £34.50, which Dattu believes will appeal to savvy shoppers looking for effective skin care at reasonable price points.

But economic pressures aside, what explains the sudden growth of the middle market? According to Dattu, it's down to a shift in mindset: "[Growth] has been heightened by the growing realisation that there's no shame in getting good value for money."

Another brand looking to cash in on the middle market is popular UK fashion label Superdry. From next February, the brand is stepping into cosmetics for the first time with a capsule collection including lipstick, eye shadows, blush and bronzers. It will be priced between £2 to £20 – a price range which Miles Dunkley, co-creator of the collection and md at beauty manufacturing company SLG, believes will strike the perfect balance between aspirational and accessible.

"We sit in the middle between [the premium and mass] markets, which is much less saturated and offers more opportunity to capture consumers," said Dunkley.

But it's not just new beauty players that are looking to mid-tier consumers. Historical fragrance house Yardley is readying to launch its first floral chypre in March 2013. The scent, entitled Polaire, is said to capture the elegance of the 1920s and offers the consumer newness in multiple ways. Firstly, the scent will be housed in an Art Deco-inspired glass bottle – a move away from the traditional square-shaped Yardley flacon. It will also be coupled with a fashion-forward ad campaign and a new price of £19.99 – almost double that of the brand's other fragrances – which sit at the £10 mark.

And as Yardley moves up, luxury shoe label Jimmy Choo shifts down. From January, the brand is releasing a second scent in partnership with Inter Parfums, entitled Flash. The "solar floral" scent debuts a new flacon, ad campaign and most notably, distribution strategy. Priced at £36, Flash will extend exclusively into Debenhams department stores. Its previous Jimmy Choo edp was previewed at upscale department stores Harrods and Selfridges in the UK and Saks Fifth Avenue in the US.

Sandra Choi, creative director at Jimmy Choo, told CosmeticNews that Flash is an opportunity to showcase a different side to the luxury brand. And just perhaps, the chance to reach a new consumer.

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