Consumer mega trends and the cosmetics industry

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

Peering into the future and guiding businesses through the hottest
emerging trends from infomania to maturalism is the theme of James
Harkin's Big Ideas: The Essential Guide to the Latest Thinking.

The new book will appeal to marketing professionals in the fashion led cosmetics industry eager to keep abreast with the latest changes in consumer attitudes and lifestyles.

A regular contributor to the British press, Harkin explained to The Times the key trends that are likely to re-orientate the marketing efforts of fast moving industries.

Maturalism Parents with children who have flown the nest are no longer settling down into old age and are instead rediscovering their youthful passions and embarking on mid-life adventures.

Harkin calls the trend 'maturalism' and points to the rising average age of the Harley-Davidson owner from 38 to 46 over the past decade as an indicator of its growing importance.

The trend watcher said cosmetics manufacturers stand to benefit from the desire of the middle-aged to recapture the spirit of youth.

Tapping into their anxieties about health and beauty is an important new route to sales growth but merely producing ranges aimed at older people is not necessarily a recipe for success.

Revlon learned this lesson after its Vital Radiance range for the over 50s suffered distribution problems, failed to find its target audience and was eventually discontinued.

Information Age

The rise of the internet and the mobile has spawned a generation of what Harkin calls 'infomania' sufferers whose attention span is limited by the endless distractions provided by Google, e-mail and text messaging.

Entering their world and developing an internet presence is an important avenue to higher sales for cosmetics companies but the challenge is capturing their attention.

Potential strategies include highly interactive shop-like websites, online only offers and attractively presented beauty tips and information.

L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and Dermitage all followed this path in the run up to Christmas with redesigned websites and online marketing campaigns.

Consumers are also turning towards blogs and consumer reviews in order to find out more about the effectiveness of different cosmetic products.

Providing a forum for reviews and consumer feedback can help cosmetics manufacturers and retailers boost website visits and therefore increase sales.

Other key trends Another internet related trend is what Harkins refers to as the growth of the long tail.

Obscure books, unusual music and niche cosmetics are all finding a means of reaching new consumers and increasing sales without the expense of developing a retail presence.

Moving away from the internet, experience is taking over from possessions according to Harkins.

Faced with a choice between a trek across exotic mountain ranges and a new car the modern consumer is likely to opt for the experience and challenge of the walk.

For cosmetics manufacturers the way to tap into this trend is perhaps to provide consumers with an experience rather than just a product.

Finally, Harkin mentions the spread of the new puritans as an ever developing trend.

Well off professionals are becoming increasingly fussy about what they consume and are investing time and money to find out more about the food they eat and the make-up they wear.

Not only can this trend be seen in the rise of natural and organic cosmetics but also in the popularity of products whose labels identify key ingredients and their sources.

Red roses from Turkey and grapes from the south of France add value to a product in the eyes of the new puritan who is also likely to demand greater transparency from the manufacturer regarding the origins of the remaining ingredients.

Big Ideas: The Essential Guide to the Latest Thinking by James Harkin is published by Atlantic Books on February 1.

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