What’s Hot About Asian Beauty?
When it comes to the latest trends in formulations, packaging, product types and beauty routines, Asia continues to lead the world in terms of innovation. Florence Bernardin, founder, Information and Inspiration, compared trends in Asia’s three key markets—Japan, China and Korea.
In each market, beauty routines and needs differ, giving rise to different types of product. Japan is the largest Asian market, mature and sophisticated, where women use fewer products and are concerned with inner beauty. Unlike Korean consumers, the Japanese want to reduce, not extend their beauty routine. They also have an aging population with specific beauty needs, resulting in product lines aimed at different age groups from 50 onwards.
In contrast, China is a young market and beauty brands target women in their first job, with no time for sleeping or a social life. Pollution is a big problem. They look for quick and effective beauty solutions and are afraid of chemicals and “nasties” on the skin.
Korea is renown for K-Beauty and has the greatest number of new launches and innovative formulations, focusing on texture excitement and creating a visible skin/hair difference.
Cleansing is the number one priority for Asian women, with many addicted to textures, fragrance and comfort in their quest to combat pollution and create glowing, dewy skin. Double cleansing is carried out by 81% of Japanese women and 73% of Korean women, cited Bernardin, and is all about wash-off formulations. Light mousse textures are very much in and there is also a trend for enzyme powders which are applied with wet hands to the face.
The mask addiction continues with new formats, including dry masks to which users apply their favorite creams and lotions, and the acupuncture-inspired sheet mask with dots on it that can be pressed down to activate blood circulation.
The face makeup category needs new definitions and formats as it has been challenged by BB/CC creams, new lifestyles, hybrids and new beauty ideals. Cushion packaging is one solution as face makeup has become more compacted: all in one, multi-use, easy-to-carry and customized.
DIY Beauty: Novelty or Trend?
DIY beauty has been around for millennia, argued Jo Chidley, founder, Beauty Kitchen, which runs how to make your own cosmetics workshops. So why the resurgence in interest? Chidley maintains it is strongly linked to the trend for natural, sustainability and green and because consumers are losing trust in big brands.
“There’s an illusion of black magic behind the scenes,” she stated, “and DIY is the only way to be transparent.”
With consumers taking more responsibility for their health through diet and lifestyle, it follows that many are concerned about the products they put on their skin. The mass of labels, some certified and many not, is causing consumers to become confused and lose trust in the products on sale. Some turn to the internet to find recipes on how to make their own, while others are tempted by the growing number of customized products, claiming to satisfy their individual needs.
However, Chidley is not convinced that DIY will become a mainstream trend as consumers do not have the time to make their own beauty products.
“Instead, they want more transparency from brands they trust and know to be sustainable,” she said.
Big companies do not need to tick every box, she argued, but keep sustainability as part of the overall strategy.
“We won’t solve industrial revolution problems with industrial revolution issues,” she argued.
Athleisure: Cross Category Migration
The athleisure trend can be defined as a merging of the worlds of style and sports to create a new lifestyle trend. Already well established in apparel and gym wear, it is becoming a notable trend in beauty. Social media is playing its part too, according to Lia Neophytou, associate analyst, GlobalData, who cited that 35% of global female consumers agree that social media has made them more self conscious about their appearance.
“Athleisure in beauty is driven by Millennials, with 81% interested in beauty and grooming products targeted toward the fitness occasion,” she pointed out.
Brands are already moving into the athleisure space with products aimed at beautifying fitness, such as MAC Work It Out (US), a 1980s inspired capsule line featuring bold bright packaging and pigments. Other examples include CliniqueFit (Australia) Workout Makeup, high performance and makeup essentials for an active life. Neophytou identified new opportunities linked to this trend, such as products for outdoor use that protect against pollution, and optimizing products for out of home use through smaller sizes and convenient packaging.
New Claims: Anti-Pollution and Probiotics
Protection is back as the buzzword in skin care and this time it is all about anti-pollution and looking after the skin’s microbiome. It is of particular concern to the youngest consumers, according to Maria Coronado Robles, senior consultant, Euromonitor International.
“Twenty-five percent of Generation Z consumers (under 18) look for anti-pollution claims in anti-aging products compared to 16% of Millennials,” she revealed. “Pollution is reaching critical levels in big cities globally and urban consumers are exposed to levels above safe guidelines.”
The anti-pollution claim, already well established in skin care, is expanding into other categories, including hair care, sun protection, smart data, wearables and apps. Examples include Sanex Anti Pollution Shower Gel and Schwarzkopf Extra Care Purify & Protect shampoo.
The use of probiotics is also becoming more widespread in beauty as companies focus on the skin microbiome as a business opportunity. Many types of probiotics are now used in personal care, anti-aging and dermocosmetic products across the spectrum of beauty brands such as Clinique, L’Oréal and Elizabeth Arden, to Mother Dirt, Glowbiotics, Drunk Elephant, Gallinée, JooMo and Chuckling Goat. Some examples include Mother Dirt AO Biome Moisturizer, Yun Probiotherapy ACN + Wash and ACN + Cream and Glowbiotics Anti-Aging Oil.
But the popularity of probiotics raises questions, too. Coronado Robles warned of the medium- to long-term effects of using probiotics and asked: “Are the products really worth the price?”
The Fast-Moving Makeup Market
Valued by Mintel at $48.3 billion in 2018, the global makeup market continues its fast-paced growth due to consumers’ high engagement in social media and desire for experimentation. According to Charlotte Libby, senior beauty analyst, Mintel, fashion plays an important role in new trends, with New York Fashion Week a key driver for change. This year, Mintel notes the expansion of eye color from the lids to the inner eye and grow bone, with a focus on bright shades and strobing; the launch of new format triangle eyeliners to encourage creativity; and a trend toward acceptance of flaws, such as freckles, pigmentation and stray brows.
A return to color, alongside growth in colorless products, is linked to femininism and modern women’s right to choose what to use. Examples include pink as the standout color of the season for cheeks, eyes and lips, including new opportunities for multi-stick products. Glitter and sparkle are very much back in vogue, but today’s formulations must be made from environmentally-friendly biodegradable ingredients. Clear makeup is having a moment, especially as a trend for nails as a base for nail art.
New season packaging is designed to meet the demands of tomorrow’s consumer with smaller sizes, ergonomic design and fashion-forward products leading the way. For example, Tom Ford, Becca, MAC and Etude House are all bringing out miniatures, making luxury more affordable and aiming for a younger market. Meanwhile, as populations age, brands are turning their attention to the needs of senior consumers with targeted products and campaigns, such as 89-year old model Daphne Selfe for mascara brand Eyeko.
“Considerations for ergonomic packaging will become more important,” stressed Libby.
Consumers and Social Media
Sean Singleton, managing director, Your Beauty Story, described how developments in the way we consumer social media have exploded since the age of broadcast (1.0), evolving to conversation (2.0) and now catalysts (3.0), made possible through the transition from computers to mobile to “roam-free.” The result of this change is that people can express themselves more easily and expect a two-way conversation with brands.
“Successful brands are the ones that talk with their audience, not at them,” stated Singleton. “Brands don’t control the conversations because that’s now down to online influencers.”
According to Singleton, the biggest users of social media are the Gen Y (Millennials) and Gen Z (born since 1995) generations, who spend up to 11 hours a day on social media. Beauty brands must harness the power of social media to discover where these young consumers go to discover under-the-radar cult products, engage posts that promote their uniqueness and gender differences in a positive way. Singleton recommended that beauty brands need to create packaging that is “insta-worthy,” to use real people as social influencers to create authentic content, and to give consumers a voice by collaborating with them and involving them in the product creation process.