At last week’s WGSN online Beauty Live event, Clare Varga, director of beauty at WGSN, presented the key beauty ‘personas’ set to rise in importance by 2024: the lazy skinimalists; beautyversals; protopians; and universals.
Tying into the six wider big ideas set to shape beauty in 2024, Varga told attendees these cohorts provided an important “magnified lens” on target consumer groups for beauty brands, manufacturers and retailers working on innovation pipelines. Importantly, whilst these ‘personas’ varied in prominence depending on markets, she said they could each be considered universal and global for the beauty category.
1. Lazy skinimalists – zero-effort self-care necessities
The first beauty persona set to steal the spotlight over the next two years was the ‘lazy skinimalist’, Varga said.
“The lazy skinimalists are pragmatic about the time available for self-care and use smart beauty hacks to manifest more time for beauty moments,” she said.
These consumers prioritised emotional wellbeing over perfectionism, she said, considering self-care a “necessity rather than a luxury”.
Local delivery options and subscription models appealed to this group and they actively sought out “single-step” skin care routines and “zero-effort solutions”, with supplements and leave-on products aligning well with these needs.
US brand Kate McLeod addressed these needs with its offering of face stones, for example – a range of solid face moisturisers that melted on contact with the skin. Fellow US hair care brand Crown Affair also appealed with the positioning that its hair brushes offered ‘meditative’ moments during use.
Moving forward, Varga said beauty brands and manufacturers had to keep product and tool innovations “clear, simple and BS-free” to appeal to the needs and higher thinking of lazy skinimalists.
2. Beautyversals – the direct-to-avatar beauty shift
The second beauty persona set to surge in the next two years was the ‘beautyversal’, Varga said.
“Emerging from the metaverse, the beautyversals are reshaping the beauty world. It’s a real mindset that puts digital beauty products on a par with physical ones. These consumers have digital FOMO [fear-of-missing-out] and they want their beauty needs to be catered to,” she said.
Digital identities were extremely important to this group, she said, as they “lived, worked and played in phygital”. Because of this, they expected Augmented Reality [AR] and Virtual Reality [VR] to be a given in beauty, preferring virtual ambassadors and virtual services to real-life offerings, she said.
UK beauty brand The Unseen appealed to this group with its dual-reality makeup that changed under the flash of a mobile phone camera. Chinese colour cosmetics brand Kaleidos Makeup also tapped into this beauty persona with its multi-chrome highlighters range.
Moving forward, Varga said beauty brands had to keep in mind this was a “direct-to-avatar” group full of early adopters willing to try new digital innovations but also engage with physical content if it unlocked exclusive digital elements.
3. Protopians – ‘nature not narcissism’ driving purchases
The third beauty persona set to gain importance over the next two years, Varga said, was the ‘protopian’.
“Protopians are committed to building a better future on purchase,” she said. “Nature, not narcissism, shapes beauty purchases. They are looking for products sourced with respect and extended producer responsibility.”
Importantly, she said this consumer group was willing to “adapt their self-care behaviours” to reduce impact on the environment, believing small changes made a big difference. For them, aesthetics took a “back seat” to the environment, with most valuing a natural looking product instead, she said.
LATAM beauty major Natura &Co was one company that would appeal to this group, with its widespread best-practice sourcing models that respected local communities and protected natural ecosystems in South America.
Moving forward, the beauty industry had to keep in mind that this persona would carefully check corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and dig into sustainability commitments, favouring brands with accredited certifications like B-Corp. “They believe whole-heartedly in resource wisdom but also technology to preserve and advance nature,” Varga said.
4. The Universals – saying ‘no’ to normal
The fourth beauty persona set to take centre stage by 2024 was the ‘universal’, Varga said.
“The Universals are saying ‘no’ to normal. They are redesigning what beauty means by choosing brands, retailers and products that make them feel welcome, served and seen,” she said.
This consumer group wanted “full representation and the democratisation of beauty” and therefore prioritised “hyper-realness” over perception, she said. They looked for affordable and acceptable products that offered diverse properties, she said.
European beauty major Unilever would have gained respect amongst this group when it scrapped its ‘normal’ messaging across product ranges and marketing. Similarly, US brand Tula Skincare would be respected by this group for its ‘no filters’ policy.
“To connect with this persona, accept the concept of imperfect products. The Universals embrace odd-box beauty and brands like KanKan making damaged products available,” Varga said.
Beauty persona evolution – 2023-2024
Interested in how WGSN’ beauty personas had evolved? Take a look back at the company’s 2023 beauty personas to watch to get a better idea on the next two years ahead.