Beauty innovation suffering from ‘tunnel vision’, expert says

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty innovation suffering from ‘tunnel vision’, expert says

Related tags: Innovation

“Innovation is not dead,” notes industry expert Steve Barton, but, according to the professional skin biologist, it’s certainly not alive and kicking. “How many alphabet creams can you possibly need?” he wonders.

Barton is referring to the apparently unstoppable rise of the tinted moisturizer cream product category, whose newly established position as a staple across countless ranges offers a prime example of what he calls ‘tunnel vision’ in beauty innovation.

Talking to Cosmetics Design, Barton, the founder of technical consultancy firm Skin Thinking, explains why industry innovation needs to move away from the current dominant trend of copy-catting.

One track mind

Barton suggests that at the moment, innovation is largely driven by the desire from brands to keep up with each other, rather than push forward to set new trends.  

In some sectors, brands and developers will chase the leaders instead of finding out why those brands are the leaders​,” Barton explains.

He believes that often developers will be innovating with the view to replicate products which are proven successes: “A request to "match this" is rarely backed up by a critique of ‘this’, and very often focuses on the claim or the technology featured in ‘this’​,” he suggests.

While Barton is keen to emphasise that “innovative thinking and creativity​” is still very active in this process of mimicking, he believes it nonetheless narrows the industry’s innovative potential.

The resulting limited horizons miss out on opportunities to create a "wow" for the consumer and carve new niches​,” he states.

Pushing innovation

Barton's comments follow the recent success of a new initiative by Germany-based manufacturer Beiersdorf, which also sought to foster innovation in the industry.

The Nivea skin care maker used the recent in-cosmetics industry event to launch its Open Innovation Pitch, which is part of the company’s continuing ‘Pearlfinder’ initiative.

The pitching competition invited innovative ideas, with the chance of developing and working on these in the future with Beiersdorf, with the goal of inspiring innovation.

“Innovation is a key factor for our company’s success,”​ Beiersdorf R&D corporate director, Andreas Clausen, told “The overall quality and potential of the submitted ideas exceeded our expectations.”

Related topics: Formulation & Science, Skin Care

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