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Women have many reasons for using beauty products. Some are expressing their individuality. Others are indulging in fashion trends, aiming for a more youthful look, enhancing their gifts or covering their flaws.
The goal however, is pretty much the same — to look good. Seventy-one percent of women who use beauty products say that it’s important to always look their best when they walk out the door, and 69 percent say that using beauty products boosts their self-esteem, according to global market research firm Mintel Group Ltd.
Retail beauty product sales have been on an upswing for several years, reaching $46.2 billion in 2015, Mintel notes in its March 2016 report “The Beauty Consumer — US.” Furthermore, Mintel projects sales will grow at an annual average rate of 2 percent to 3 percent through 2020, driven by an improving economy and population growth.
Performance, price, loyalty
Because cosmetics are used as a means to an end, performance is all-important in the category, says April Vignone, president of product and packaging development for New Windsor, N.Y -based Verla International Ltd.
Retailers want performance-driven color cosmetics and skin care products using the latest and newest natural raw materials and the most advanced technology to deliver results, she notes.
Cost-savings are another important factor, says Aileen Vitale, marketing and sales manager for Clifton, N.J.-based Disposable Hygiene.
“Retailers consistently ask us if we have the ability to supply like/kind products under a private label offering, whether it be in the cosmetics category, skin care or personal cleansing categories,” she explains. “They are always looking to be able to offer their customer base a cost-saving alternative that performs as well and sometimes better than brand.”
Retailers want their own-brand beauty programs to be successful, on-trend to consumer desires, and able to produce high profit margins, observes Karen Combest, executive vice president of Prospect, Ky.-based Louisville Ladies LLC.
Body lotions, soaps, cotton balls, facial towelettes and polish removers have performed admirably under store brand banners, Combest says. But retailers can do better in the overall cosmetic and beauty products category. The key? Don’t fear innovation, she advises.
“Make bold statements in store for beauty,” Combest urges. “While there are fiscal risks with being bold and aggressive, the bigger and scarier risk is your competitor doing it first.”
Beauty products are more about desire than need, and the category’s consumers are usually on the lookout for what’s new and improved, Combest observes. “Even if a woman has been using the same foundation for 10 years, she is still looking for something more, something that will work better,” she says.
Because a long-term strategy is necessary in this category, retailers need to collaborate with their suppliers to build the brand, Combest says, noting that minimally a five-year strategy and plan of action is required.
Retailers should use basic brand building tactics: promotion, price, planogram, in-store presentation and advertising, she says.
“It should be about creating, building and marketing a brand that affords [retailers] higher margins, better customer loyalty to their brand, and an increased number of annual shopping visits,” Combest says.
Technology is key
Some of the biggest improvements in the category come from increasingly efficient and environmentally friendly ingredient technologies, Vitale says. “Consumers are continuing to look for ingredients that have a minimal impact on the environment without giving up the safety and performance of the products,” she notes.
Consumers also are looking for improvements in moisture retention and collagen regeneration technology to boost the performance of natural cleansers, antiaging serums, oxidant-rich moisturizers and intense treatment masks as well as color cosmetics, Vignone reports. In addition, health-conscious consumers want skin boosters that revitalize, restore and brighten skin as well as remove toxins.
Retailers can succeed by catering to a somewhat ignored demographic — aging women and men, says Combest. “The opportunity is mind-boggling, because while they are selective and appreciate value more than Gen X, baby boomers still want quality products in quality packaging. They are not as brand-driven as Gen X and, quite frankly, are a prime example of an opportunity gap begging to be catered to.”
Fashion is very important to both millennials and Gen Xers. They live their lives online and love discovering new trends, especially in colors, Combest says.
Fashion trends dictate colors trending for upcoming cosmetic seasons but, more importantly, provide guidance to desired textures and product finishes to complement the overall look, Vignone says. “For example, the newest sheer eye-gloss trends extend from the runway fabric trends with high shine and luminosity,” she points out.
As always, what’s seen on the runway or in the entertainment industry will continue to carry over to the younger buying generations such as millennials, Vitale agrees. The difference now, she adds, is the speed by which trends circulate and consumers’ desire to be able to procure those hot items quickly — all due to social media.
Health and convenience
As in other categories, consumers want more “natural” products, Combest says. Three years ago, roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population was looking for more natural ingredients, and now, it’s almost 30 percent, she relates.
More and more brands are turning to healthier ingredients as the movement toward natural and organic options continues to increase, Vignone says. “We are very conscious about what we put in and on our bodies,” she notes.
Products that are portable, easy to use and save time are irresistible to beauty care product consumers, Combest says.
Convenience is a must for busy women whose lifestyles demand multi-benefit products that are easy to use at home and on-the-go for immediate touch-ups, Vignone agrees.
Convenience, she notes, can take on many forms: “It can include a natural moisturizer that can be used for face, lips and even your hair; or a highlighter stick product that can be used to add a natural glow to your cheeks, color to your lips and contour to your eyes; or a dewy gloss that can be added to your lips, eyes and cheeks.”