A Seismic Shift for Beauty

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | 05.01.20

Things won’t return to normal any time soon, according to results from a new study by HatchBeauty.

Only a few months ago, beauty care was all about, well, beauty. Today, there’s more than a twinge of survivalism in even the most elaborate regimens. Take skin care for example. Once face-focused, now, in a world dominated by coronavirus, proper skin care includes long-neglected hand care, too. That’s just one of the findings in Here + Now, Beauty in a post COVID-19 economy, a new research report from HatchBeauty LLC. The study looks at myriad facets of the beauty industry, but no matter where one looks, disruption is the rule. That’s nothing new to HatchBeauty President Preston Bottomy, who noted that his company was founded during The Great Recession and survived through the MERS outbreak of 2012. And yet, this time, he admits, it really is different.
“While both of those events brought fear and uncertainty and had impacts on consumer behavior, to say we’ve seen something like this before would be dismissive of the impact COVID-19 is having globally,” he told Happi. “No single event in recent history has had as profound and immediate of an impact on the consumer mindset.”
Consumers around the world are rethinking their purchasing decisions and this new mindset is sure to have a dramatic impact on when and how they shop and what they buy. Those habits are all detailed in the new report. For example, in a post-COVID-19 world, hand care will increase in importance as more consumers understand the importance of hand washing. Like other industry observers, HatchBeauty analysts predict long-term consumer needs will focus on hand care and hand care products, especially those that offer repairing or healing benefits, as the drying effects of many hand soaps and hand sanitizers disrupt the skin barrier. In fact, there has been a 1,400% increase in hand mask searches since this time last year.
Keeping the focus on hands, the HatchBeauty study predicts that the nail and salon industry may finally undergo a long-anticipated reinvention as consumers rethink hand hygiene, long nails and personal safety. 

Shuttered nail salons must rethink their operations prior to reopening.

“Consumers returning to their favorite salons and shops will most likely make decisions based on two key things: the desire to put some pampering and self-care back into their routines and the need for reassurance that those services are clean and safe,” he explained. “The businesses that increase their emphasis on luxurious service by adding additional massage time and other add-ons, while reassuring customers they are clean and safe will thrive.”
I Don’t Want to Go Out…
Rather than going out for beauty help, more consumers may opt to stay in, as in, inside-out beauty. HatchBeauty notes that the supplement industry reached $123 billion last year, representing 8% year-on-year growth. The long-term outlook for inside-out beauty looks good too, as consumers seek new ways to achieve wellness. Some of the most popular searches have been vitamin C (+101% compared to last year), echinacea (+69%) and elderberry (+124%). According to WebMD, echinacea may activate chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation and elderberry has been linked with reducing flu-like symptoms.  

In the same vein, more consumers are adopting survivalist tactics, such as stockpiling non-perishable items that are germ free and shelf-stable. For now, it seems, demand for sustainable products will take a back seat product packaging that ensures germ-free, stable products. According to Bottomy, it is going to take some time for the consumer psyche to shake the effects of this global pandemic. 
“While worrying about germs and illness may have been much more common for our grandparents' generation, it is not something most present-day consumers have spent much time or energy on,” he noted.” In the weeks preceding shutdowns, we saw a lot of stockpiling of goods. During the next 3-6 months, we anticipate that will slow as many supply chains move products online and adjust to changing consumer needs. When it comes to the types of products being shopped and the need for efficacy and protection, we believe long-term buying behaviors will be defined by this moment for a minimum of 12-18 months post-pandemic.” 

As consumers hunker down and focus on self-care, their needs for experiential will give way to the virtual. Also, HatchBeauty predicts that successful brands will infuse community into their product offerings.
“The pandemic will accelerate some emerging trends that were in play before 2020. One of which is the evolution of the retail experience,” observed Bottomy. “It’s hard to imagine a world where a shopping experience isn’t part of everyone’s routine. However, we do believe that the way that experience unfolds is likely to be vastly different and far more forward-thinking than in years past.”
For example, he expects a surge in concierge-type services from here on out. 
“Be it Instacart or Curbside pickup, it’s not likely that consumers are going to willingly abandon the safety or convenience of this experience to go back to wandering aisles with 200 of their closest friends while trying to find toilet paper,” he noted. “Humans are naturally social creatures so while things may change it is unlikely shopping will disappear forever.”
But when consumers do head out to do their thing, there will be plenty of changes. For one, they will be far more comfortable with mobile pay and iPad orders as a supplement to their traditional carts and bags, according to Bottomy. 
“An increased emphasis on cash- and contact-less pay, as well as crowd control in your favorite stores may be the retail experience to which we all return,” he added. 

How can multinationals and indie beauty brands thrive in this brave new world? Giving back is a start, but it has become a cost of doing business, according to Bottomy, who insists that consumers have come to expect giveback programs from large corporations.
“Indie brands and small businesses still have the hearts of consumers everywhere,” he insisted. “Consumers want to feel good about the money they are spending right now, and knowing they are keeping the brands they love afloat is a big deal. For indie brands, it’s essential to be present, provide givebacks where you can, and add value to the online conversation daily.”
Indie brands are a key component of HatchBeauty’s strategy. Last year, the company expanded to HatchBeauty Brands and includes Found, Naturewell, Kristofer Buckle, Orlando Pia, Nailing Hollywood, Jenna Hip and Chad Kenyon. Bottomy maintains that the principles that fueled business from day one are the same principles that are allowing HatchBeauty to be agile and forward-thinking in the moment. 
“We are passionate about working closely with our retailers to understand the needs of their consumers and quickly turn products that speak to and reflect those insights,” he explained. In the early days of HatchBeauty Brands, we focused on bringing natural and clean products to the mass market. Today, we’ve been able to shift and respond to retailer needs by offering hand sanitizer and soaps to that same market. As we look to the future, we are already altering our 2021 and 2022 product assortments to account for shifts in long-term buying habits that we believe are imminent.”
For the foreseeable future, sanitizers and soaps appear to be the orders of the day.