It’s ages since I’ve been to one of The Future Laboratory’s trend presentations and its Beauty Futures forum is always jam packed with insights, stats and mini Q&As. I recently attended the briefing for the next big things in beauty and wellness, so read on for my five top takeaways.
1. EXPERIENTIAL RETAIL IS ON THE UP
Look at the expansion of Covent Garden’s ‘beauty quarter’ and suddenly the old school department store beauty hall seems very old fashioned indeed. These days, beauty consumers are informed and well-researched, so want their beauty shopping environment to reflect that. So less of the hard sell and more of the try-before-you-buy experiential format.
Millennial-friendly retailer Sephora is streets ahead here. Its San Francisco concept store, The Beauty Tip Workshop (below) lets visitors play with product in a community environment, assisted by in-store experts. Social media sharing is, of course, encouraged. Newbie beauty brand 3INA (top) is equally experience-focused, with walls of colour and video content that inspires its ‘3INAMAKERS’ to interact and experiment.
Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing this attitude most evident in youth-focused brands. The short attention span of this demographic values speed. Fast beauty means constant newness of trends, with instant results such as pacy, easy-to-follow videos. Hence the trend for dynamic screens in store and online that serve up snack-sized beauty trends and tutorials. This is a highlight of another newcomer, Milk Makeup (below), which has a heavy focus on personalities and brand advocates. But instead of celebs or bloggers, it‘s enlisted 40 creative professionals to deliver its message of instantaneous, low maintenance beauty.
Unlike fast fashion, this needn’t mean un-conscious consumerism. “Fast doesn’t mean compromising. Some of our products are tested seven times. As a new brand, you can question and affect the supply chain,” says 3INA’s head of marketing Helen McGee.
TAKEAWAY: Most beauty purchases are still made in store but research is done online. Make your physical store a dynamic, experimental destination with digital editorial that advises and inspires.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA IS AN ATTITUDE
Unsurprisingly, much of the social growth has come from South Korea, where social media and beauty are twin obsessions of on-the pulse-consumers. Its favourite beauty influencer Irene Kim is one of the brand ambassadors for The Estée Edit (below), the social media-driven brand launched by Estée Lauder. Sold in Sephora stores and online, The Estée Edit is very much an attitudes-driven brand. Inspired by and catering to the Instagram generation, its products are designed to make you look as good on a phone as IRL. (News just in, Estée Lauder is also behind Flirt, a playful, social-driven beauty line with Amber Rose as its figurehead.)
As the stats prove, the reflection we see in the screen is as important as the one we see in the mirror. Research by Dove reveals that 82% of women in the US believe social media drives the definition of beauty now. And in findings from Statista, social media accounted for 90% of beauty brand consumer interaction in 2015. Take the face mask craze; all those multi masking selfies were responsible for a 22% expansion in the UK face mask market in 2015. Last year also saw the online frenzy for Pat McGrath Labs, the influential make-up artist’s fledgling product offering (below). The first run of limited edition pigment kits sold out in minutes thanks to the stampede from her 500,000 followers. Part of the appeal is Tumblr-style e-commerce that’s focused on inspiration as well as product. It’s all about the emotional connection, not just flawless results.
TAKEAWAY: Use Instagram as your news outlet to create pre-release buzz to bloggers and customers. And use your visuals as an inspiration mood board, elevating it to the same level as products to create engagement. Remember, images matter more than words in a fast-beauty, social-sharing landscape, especially on mobile.
3. TOTAL BEAUTY
The wellness movement continues to flourish and it’s generally acknowledged that beauty is no longer limited to cosmetics and skincare. Example: Selfridges’ Body Studio, its new 37,000 square foot destination that encompasses sportswear, a Hemsley + Hemsley café (below), beauty supplements and an energising feel-good environment.
We’re increasingly embracing holistic beauty, not for perfection but for self-improvement and overall wellbeing. It’s a mind, body and soul approach to beauty as embodied by Comfort Zone, an Italian luxury brand I met during the forum that combines holistic, sustainable beauty with scientific efficacy. Cinnamon Projects is another example. It’s a range of fragrances that you can layer throughout the day to reflect your mood in micro-moments.
Meanwhile, meditation and exercise are the new beauty treatments, with a move towards ‘drop-in mindfulness’ in which meditation is approached like a beauty treatment that you top up regularly. Studios such as The Den in Los Angeles offer urbanites convenient short bursts of meditation to fit around their day. (I like the sound of their ‘Just Chill the F*** Out’ class for a lunchtime reflection and relaxation break…) Beauty routines have long been considered me-time, but the convergence of beauty, wellness and fitness have elevated them to a sacred art. I can stand up and be counted for this one because I’m a recent convert to the calming ritual of putting on and taking off make-up, masks and cleansing balms. Beauty routine as spiritual therapy? I’ll take it!
The wellness enthusiast loves beauty products that let her sweat; the antidote to pore-clogging foundations. Taking a cue from the all-day-everywhere athleisure movement, Birchbox has launched Arrow (below), a line of high functioning products for pre, during and post gym beautifying. The collection includes a cooling cheek tint, a colour enhancing lip balm and a deodorant that’s kind to skin, however sweaty you get.
Of course, when something tips into major trend territory, all the parodies come out of the woodwork. We all had a good hoot at this one…
Takeaway: beauty is more than skin deep. As any beauty junkie knows, there are emotional benefits to pampering rituals and wellness routines. Expect a rise in products that work even harder. Especially those with high performing natural ingredients that aim to enhance our workouts and improve mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
4. FEEL-GOOD LANGUAGE
If you want to engage customers, talk in positive tones. That’s the message we’re getting from the influence of fitness culture. Positive exercise language is infiltrating beauty brands with ‘energy’ the buzzword du jour being embraced by brands including Clarins, (whose Energy Booster serum promises to eliminate signs of fatigue) and Lancome (whose new anti-oxidant rich line Énergie de Vie is promoted with the hashtag #MadeOfEnergy).
The concept of beauty from within is also giving rise to food language used to sell cosmetics and vice versa. Evoleum’s ‘nutri-cosmetics’ include the Oleya range of organic vegetable oils called ‘culinary serums’ that are used in cooking while greatly benefiting skin. Sold in glass bottles with a pipette, they look like edible facial oils.
TAKEAWAY: In keeping with the wellness movement, health food language is about fitness and vitality, not diets and calorie counting. Anti-aging and diet terminology are turn-offs to the Insta-good generation, so use positive fitness-inspired words to deliver a message of energy and renewal.
5. DIGITAL DISORDERS
It was inevitable. As our dependence on digital and devices has grown, there’s a whole litany of ailments and remedies to go with it. Think ‘screen face’, ‘tech neck’ and digital dependency. While 2015’s main skin stressors were sun damage and pollution, 2016 is all about HEV (high-energy visible) rays penetrating us from our always-on device screens. Enter the skincare products and ingredients that aim to counter those effects, including MAKE Beauty’s Moonlight Skin Primer which uses marine algae to protect skin against HEV light.
Never ones to miss a commercial opportunity, beauty brands have identified ‘tech neck’ as the saggy, jowly results of looking down screenwards 24-7. And of course they have a hack for that (cynics look away now) … Targeting the so-called Y-zone (lower face, throat and décolletage), Yves Saint Laurent’s products such as Forever Youth Liberator Y.Shape Crème offer the remedy to the latest body insecurity to be
invented targeted. Consider yourself warned (or just hold your phone at eye level – and exercise your arms at the same time). Although you’ll still have ‘screen face’, aka social media induced frown lines, jaw tension and knackered eyes. Remedy: sign up for FaceGym’s ‘phone face’ massage at Selfridges, or better still, an all-out digital detox. Or if you can’t manage a total digital switch-off, at least get out in the physical world and mix screen time with actual face time to save your eyes, skin and sanity.
TAKEAWAY: Digital detoxes and spiritual experiences are being employed to help us reconnect offline, but for brands, the advice from The Future Laboratory is never to completely unplug. We’re too far gone to realistically be wrenched from our devices so for brands to serve well, there should be no distinction between on and offline.
For daily insights from The Future Laboratory’s editorial division LS:N Global, check out the daily Briefing or subscribe to the full service here. To keep up with future beauty trends on Disneyrollergirl, sign up here to get a weekly digest of my blog posts in your inbox.
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES – top to bottom: 3INA, Sephora, The Estée Edit, Pat McGrath Labs, Hemsley + Hemsley at Selfridges, arrow by Birchbox, Evoleum, MAKE Beauty by Garance Dore
NOTE: Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here