The brands, which were curated by an advisory board made up of CEW Board members and key industry stakeholders, including retailers and financial advisors, comprise a noteworthy list of independent companies, which are defined by CEW as those brands that are still majority owned by their original founder. CEW’s new Indie65 Report contains retail sales estimates as of fiscal year 2018; the company’s founder, headquarters, Instagram handle and number of Instagram followers, as well as a synopsis of the company and what distinguishes it.
Indies as Change Agents
“The beauty business has been evolving, and indie brands are growing,” said Carlotta Jacobson, president, CEW. “Fifteen percent of our members are indie brands,” she said. “For more than six decades, CEW has served as a resource for the beauty industry at large, helping brands and individuals gain access to invaluable business information. We’ve observed the indie brand segment within CEW membership grow exponentially and are proud to continue serving as an industry resource, providing support to drive their business forward,” said Jacobson.
“The findings compiled in the Indie65 Report represent 65 of the most successful indie brands, as well as the 65th anniversary of CEW,” said Jacobson. She thanked BCG and Arcade for their support of the event, and introduced Andrea Nagel, VP-content, CEW. “This project was a labor of love,” Nagel said, noting that she had been reporting on many of the selected brands since their inception. She cited several reasons for their success and inclusion in the list, in particular their relevance, ingredient profiles, positioning, social media savvy and product offerings.
Larry Berman, SVP-Arcade, sponsor of the event, noted the power of sampling in beauty, “Fifty percent of all beauty shoppers sample their products.” He highlighted the role of sampling and noted the recent creation of “connected sampling kiosks,” the result of a partnership between Arcade and Vengo Labs to make sampling more accessible to consumers and create samples in real time. Berman then introduced BCG Project Leaders, Christine Bae and Helen Chu, who presented an indie beauty trend overview.
Key Indie Trends
Bae and Chu cited the growth of indie brands today and the ways in which they are engaging with consumers. They explained the ecosystem of beauty and the emergence of new indie niches, pointing out that key elements have distinguished themselves among indie brands. These include social influence, personalization and curation, a rise in the interest in natural and botanical ingredients, health and wellness, multicultural beauty, unique experience and engagement, and convenience. They noted significant growth in indie brands between the years 2007 and 2017, comparing consumer analytics for beauty and cosmetic products, and growth in the online marketplace.
Consumers are said to be seeking a frictionless experience when shopping for beauty products, and will continue to be attentive to online initiatives, hence a growth in the digital arena is foreseen in beauty, Bae and Chu explained. Ultimately, the outlook is positive, with prestige consumers in beauty planning to spend more on products, and independent brands continuing to make strong inroads in the industry.
About the Brands
In sum, the Indie65 Report is an eye-opening compendium of the indies that have captured the attention of the industry, the qualities that are attracting consumers, and the potential for indies to animate acquisitions in a rapidly growing space. The list itself runs from edgy to established, featuring such brands as Alchimie Forever, a family-run business and dermatology brand; Alpyn Beauty, with its wild-crafted actives and Plant Genius complex; Dr. Barbara Sturm Skincare, featuring cell-regenerative formulas; Beatrice Feliu-Espada’s The Honey Pot, a plant-based, feminine hygiene brand, including washes and mommy-to-be products; Jen Atkin’s Ouai, a premium hair care line featuring luxury scents, targeted supplements for healthy hair, and now body care; Alicia Yoon’s Peach & Lily, K-Beauty skin care; Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, utilizing state-of-the-art dermatologic technology to create refreshed and radiant skin; Tata Harper Skincare, pioneering farm-to-face skin care and featuring handcrafted formulas and ingredients from all around the world; Josie Maran, whose products include argan-inspired body butters, CBD and hemp seed oil; Kylie Jenner Cosmetics, which expanded from Lip Kits to a full range of color cosmetics, now branded as Kylie Cosmetics, and Rodan and Fields, spearheaded by dermatologists, Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, whose original Proactiv launch success has grown into a full skin care line, including Active Hydration Body Replenish and Radiant Defense Perfecting Liquid.
Each of the indie brands, whether in the “Under $5 Million,” category, and upwards to the “$1 Billion” category, as classified in the Indie65 Report, have shown remarkable ingenuity and unique positioning; and each has demonstrated creativity and disruption in the industry. Their varied and passionate community of followers tells a story about their individuality, and enables them to hold a unique position in the indie beauty pantheon.