Mintel’s top 2023 trends: Beauty offers ‘no rules environment’ for experimentation

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

© phokin / Getty Images
© phokin / Getty Images

Related tags: trends, Personalization, metaverse, Skin care, self-care, Sustainability

There are opportunities for beauty brands to help counter fatigue through self-care, provide experimentation and empowerment and support consumers as they seek to reinvent themselves and express their individuality, according to Mintel.

Earlier this month, Mintel revealed its predictions for the top trends that will drive global consumer markets over the next five years. Cosmetics-Design Europe caught up with analysts Simon Moriarty and Andrew McDougall to get their takes on how the beauty industry can harness these trends.

Me mentality: a shift away from beauty norms

The first trend identified in Mintel’s 2023 Global Consumer Trends report​ was that consumers were refocusing on themselves after spending the last two years putting their own needs on the back burner and adopting a community mindset.

The pandemic disrupted many of the daily routines and habits that mold a person’s identity and consumers were redefining who they are and realizing they do not need to be the same person as they were in the past. Brands could help them take center stage as they navigate through this period of invention, said Mintel.

Simon Moriarty, director of trends, EMEA, at Mintel, said that beauty and cosmetic brands were well placed to help people accentuate and flatter their unique features and encourage them to move away from traditional beauty standards and expectations.

“Bold makeup, colorful hair dye and more of a focus on the ‘me’ will appeal to those who want to show off their individuality and creativity,”​ he told this publication.

Looking further ahead, Mintel predicted that people would use the metaverse to develop unique identities and that this would result in “fragmented identities”​ where consumers build out and express different parts of themselves on different platforms.

From a beauty industry perspective, the physical and the digital were both important, and the future would be about adapting to the “mixed service”​ going forward, said Andrew McDougall, director of beauty and personal care research at Mintel.

“How we engage and interact will need to be fluid in the new environment too. Experimentation drives engagement, and technology will usher in the next generation of experience, whether in the store or in the home,”​ he said.

He added: “As online and offline formats continue to merge, technology will allow for the replication of experiences across channels with simple approaches, from RFID to digital avatars and the metaverse.”

Power to the people: beauty could offer “no rules environment”

Closely related to ‘me mentality’, the ‘power to the people’ trend was all about companies adapting to a new model in which the consumer is the co-creator of brands.

Brands could encourage consumers to be the creative center of product innovation and leverage emerging social platforms to interact with brand champions and gather information on how their products are used, perceived and talked about, said Mintel.

“By bringing consumers into the creative process, beauty brands can foster loyalty,”​ noted Moriarty.

He said the beauty space especially could be celebrated as a space of consumer empowerment, with people wanting to experiment in a ‘no-rules’ environment; particularly around areas such as gender expression.

“We will also see continued growth in the sector - not just new formulations, but new purposes - think sunscreen for hair, or scented nail polish,”​ he predicted.

Hyper fatigue: opportunities for ritualistic self-care routines, relaxation and pleasure

The third trend identified by Mintel stems from the effects of the pandemic, the rising cost of living, the energy crisis, geopolitical unrest and the climate crisis. All of these crises were taking their toll on consumers, causing fatigue and a sense of being overwhelmed, and consumers were also concerned about the impacts of increasing technology usage and screen time, according to the report.

Beauty brands were well placed to help consumers counter this fatigue through relaxation and pleasure, said Moriarty.

“Beauty and cosmetics brands are in a strong position to help people take a breath, slow down and relax - focusing on ritualistic routines, the pleasure of pampering and self-care, and providing guidance to consumers around how they can adapt their beauty regimes around their day-to-day responsibilities,” ​he said.

Moriarty also said that a particular opportunity existed within ‘affordable luxury’ - in bringing pleasure to the mass market.

McDougall agreed that when faced with stress and upheaval, consumers look to find ways of lifting themselves up and that beauty was the perfect product category to support that.

In responding to this opportunity, however, he warned against taking an impersonal approach.

“It’s critical to ensure that all consumers feel seen and spoken to. No longer will a singular approach to wellness be acceptable. The concept of community self-care will gain popularity as people recognize the importance of helping one another as a way to help everyone live better and feel better,” ​he said.

International localism: sustainability efforts to shift to local commitments

With so much global uncertainty, Mintel said it had observed a movement towards protecting local resources and boosting local business. Brands were increasingly linking localism with sustainability and transparency and were moving beyond a simplistic definition of local to one that translated as “beneficial to the local community”​.

“Localism will come to mean supporting communities where the product is manufactured rather than where the consumer is located. Indeed, empowering communities across the world will play a significant role in consumers’ interest and brand loyalty,” ​wrote the report’s authors.

As such, sustainability would continue to be important, but consumers would be looking for evidence that global brands take their local commitments seriously.

For example, eco-conscious consumers would demand the traceability of raw materials and more transparency around how brands are conserving local resources. Consumers would also want proof of a brand’s ethical credentials, which could go beyond environment-friendly positioning and include corporate practices too, predicted Mintel.

Moriarty said that beauty brands who were able to refocus their sustainability initiatives on saving local habitats and resources would be in a strong position.

“As with all sustainable claims, however, transparency is essential,” ​he added.

Intentional spending: claims must stack up

The fifth trend highlighted in the report also links with the current global and financial uncertainty. Mintel observed that consumers were refocusing on what value means to them and spending more intentionally as a result as they tried to make smart choices without sacrificing their quality of life. It said this would go beyond making budget-friendly choices to considering how factors like flexibility, durability and sustainability play increasingly important roles in the value equation.

In this cost-conscious climate, Moriarty warned beauty brands to be careful how they approached pricing so as not to alienate previously loyal consumers.

“People are drawn to eco-friendly products but are reluctant to pay for them - more so in today’s cost-sensitive environment. Focusing on long term benefits and value beyond cost (convenience, wellbeing) is essential,”​ he said.

Mintel also predicted that as the market became more saturated with added-value claims, consumers would grow more skeptical, and claims would be put to the test.

In the beauty industry, this would be particularly applicable in the Beauty Rx or ‘at home treatments’ space, which has accelerated in recent times.

“As the hunger for more efficient and potent products and treatments grows, consumers will look further and deeper to find proof that their money is being well spent. The rising influence of professionals and the democratization of science serve to educate consumers and make more information available to them,”​ says McDougall.

This article gives top line insight into the consumer behavior trends that Mintel predicts will shape the beauty market in the next few years. These trends will be explored in greater depth in Cosmetics-Design Europe’s coverage of Mintel’s 2023 Global Beauty Trends, which will be published shortly. 

Related topics: Market Trends

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