A transformative year? Top 5 2020 EMEA beauty trends to watch

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

CosmeticsDesign-Europe spotlights the top five beauty and personal care trends to watch out for in 2020 - think green, clean and digital... (Getty Images)
CosmeticsDesign-Europe spotlights the top five beauty and personal care trends to watch out for in 2020 - think green, clean and digital... (Getty Images)

Related tags: trends, clean & ethical beauty, green beauty, biohacking, Regulation, 2020

Shifting shopper habits, evolving consumer curiosity and legal changes will shape the European, Middle East & African beauty market next year – here are our Top 5 EMEA trends to watch.

2020 beauty trends to watch across EMEA

The year 2020 looks set to be a transformative and innovative period for EMEA’s beauty and personal care market, shaped heavily by sustainability and environmental concerns; directed by regulatory changes and fleshed out by the curious consumer.

So, just what exactly will take the spotlight in 2020? CosmeticsDesign-Europe believes there will be five critical trends to watch in the the year ahead:

  1. Return of the high street
  2. A green uprising
  3. Beauty biohacking
  4. Clean & Ethical
  5. Regulatory reformulation

1: Return of the high street: ‘The high street won’t die, but it is changing’

The return of the high street beauty trend (Getty Images)
The return of the high street beauty trend (Getty Images)

While online beauty will inevitably continue its boom – Amazon remains Europe’s most popular platform​ – the trend towards physical beauty stores will continue to gain importance, taking some spotlight away from e-commerce in 2020.

Consumers are increasingly looking for experiences, deeper brand connections and experimentation and so many are turning to in-store time to touch, smell and see products.

Paul Wheatley, global property director at Lush, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe last month: “Despite the challenges of running physical shops at a time when the retail industry is going through an upheaval, I believe that bricks and mortar retail spaces are here to stay. …The high street won’t die, but it is changing and evolving,​ and people increasingly need a reason to put down their phones and laptops to make purchases.”

The beauty retailer recently opened a mega store in Munich and two concept stores in Florence and Paris​.

Physical retail will be an interesting space to watch the evolution of personalised beauty and perhaps it’s where this movement can truly shift into mainstream? There’s also significant scope to drive forward green brand ambitions through meaningful collaboration with retailers.

2: A green uprising: Consumers taking a ‘bottom-up approach’

A green uprising beauty trend (Getty Images)
A green uprising beauty trend (Getty Images)

The EMEA region, and Western Europe in particular, is set to see a seismic sustainable beauty shift in 2020 as it remains the region with some of the highest environmental expectations globally. Widespread climate protests, extensive media coverage and consumer spending power to follow these beliefs will continue to fuel this shift further. Most recently, the European Union announced its European Green Deal​ – aiming to achieve carbon-neutral status by 2050 and lead the world in efforts to do so.

A worldwide survey conducted earlier this year by Kantar Worldpanel, Europanel and GfK across 24 countries showed Western Europe had the highest number of consumers taking a ‘bottom-up approach’ to environmental challenges​. These consumers believed responsibilities were with them, ahead of manufacturers and retailers, and they therefore consistently worked to reduce plastic waste and vocally advocated environmentally-friendly behaviour on social media.

Natalie Babbage, global LinkQ director of Kantar Worldpanel, said: “I know there’s a lot of things going on in R&D, and industry should be confident in moving that forward to the market because the demand is there.”

Many big brands had already responded, including Unilever with its plastic pledge​ and L’Oreal with its paper-based cosmetic tubes​, but there will be plenty more to come in 2020. Expect an influx of eco formats, solid concepts, reduced or zero packaging​ and circular business models as this green uprising grows in importance across the region.

3: Beauty biohacking: Digital brings world ‘closer to beauty than ever before’

Beauty biohacking beauty trend (Getty Images)
Beauty biohacking beauty trend (Getty Images)

The biohacking movement has gained considerable speed in nutrition in recent years, with consumers working tirelessly to tailor regimes to exact physiological needs based on science. And beauty will follow in its footsteps, fuelled by a mistrust of big brands and desire to take back control.

These consumers will soon start treating beauty just like they do a tailored fitness programme or nutritional diet.

Industry has already fast-advanced in the tech space, with widespread innovation in active beauty and the microbiome sector,​ along with digital tools. Google’s head of product commercialisation Aaron Luber told CosmeticsDesign-Europe last month its YouTube augmented reality (AR) ‘try-on’ beauty feature was a “powerful tool”​ for the cosmetics industry​. The video platform major recently extended this try-on tool to smartphone ads.

Laura Gurski, senior managing director and global lead for Consumer Goods and Services at strategy and consulting firm Accenture, said Europe was also a region ahead of the pack in beauty 4.0, having “indexed more on technology”​ compared to the US​. Gurski predicted a future for digital beauty that included highly personalised offerings and a merging of life sciences, nutraceuticals and beverages​.

Euromonitor International said developments in digital technology had brought brands, retailers, influencers and beauty advisors “closer to beauty than ever before” ​and if industry could fully understand how to connect, communicate and engage this network​, there would be significant growth potential.

Continued work to develop online tools and apps; advance fast in biotech technology; and expand active beauty ingredients will shape the future of this beauty biohacking movement.

4. Clean & Ethical: Driven by a rise in conscious consumerism

Clean & ethical beauty trend (Getty Images)
Clean & ethical beauty trend (Getty Images)

The clean and ethical beauty movement has rumbled its way across the global beauty category lately but started to really pick up in Western Europe. The concept of a product being better for you and better for the planet remains driven by the relentless rise of conscious consumerism.

The true meaning of clean beauty raises questions – the consumer interpretation versus the applied industry interpretation – but this is a space that will continue to evolve, and fast.

Big names like Victoria Beckham​ and Sephora have already aligned with the term and the future will see increased efforts in green formulation, ethical certifications and blockchain technologies​.

Cruelty Free International’s head of certification services Claire Fletcher told CosmeticsDesign-Europe recently that demand for certified cruelty-free cosmetics was soaring​.

“That increasing demand is obviously multifactorial. Consumers are putting more pressure on brands; consumers are becoming more aware animal testing is still happening and consumers want to see it ending,”​ Fletcher said. Whilst the European Union has had an animal testing ban in place for years for cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients, the push for a global ban remained underway.

Beyond animal testing, issues about where certain ingredients or raw materials had been sourced from​ and whether products contained ingredients perceived to be dangerous or harmful in any way had also gained noise among consumers. L’Oreal, for example, this year published a series of scientific reviews to debunk consumer misconceptions​ on some widely used but demonised ingredients in cosmetics.

CosmeticsDesign-Europe has a dedicated 2020 Summit on ‘Clean & Ethical Beauty’ coming up in Amsterdam on June 3 – June 4​, digging into market and consumer trends; the regulatory landscape; formulation opportunities; and just how exactly industry can tap into this soaring movement.

5: Regulatory reformulation: Microplastics, cyclic silicones and permanent make-up

Regulatory reformulation beauty trend (Getty Images)
Regulatory reformulation beauty trend (Getty Images)

This trend where industry will have to reformulate to align with new regulations across Europe will be front-of-mind for industry next year.

Impending bans on microplastics, cyclic silicones and permanent make-up​, along with guidance issued on the use of the term ‘free from’,​ will see manufacturers enter a transitionary phase of developing and testing alternatives.

Of course, all efforts will need to sit within REACH and the Cosmetic Regulation and there has already been talk on wider clamp downs on compliance in beauty under these regulations. In particular, increased innovation around CBD in the beauty category will trigger increased inspections​.

Also, those European beauty brands wanting to expand into or enter China would also have to tackle constantly changing cosmetic regulations in this market​, according to market expert Tjasa Grum from CE.way Regulatory Consultants.

Expect super exciting innovations coming out of the lab to work within upcoming ingredient bans and export restrictions.

WATCH: Top 15 global beauty trends 2020

These top five EMEA trends form part of our wider look at what is set to shape the global beauty and personal care category next year. For deeper insight on what’s set to shape the world market, watch the full Top 15 Global Beauty Trends 2020 video​ compiled by all global editors.

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