The retail return and ‘taboo’ beauty: NielsenIQ spotlights trends and topics to watch for 2023

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Beauty for 'taboo' topics like acne, menopause and sexual wellness will be one important trend to watch in 2023 [Getty Images]
Beauty for 'taboo' topics like acne, menopause and sexual wellness will be one important trend to watch in 2023 [Getty Images]

Related tags trends 2023 2022 NielsenIQ beauty trends retail Menopause sexual wellness sustainable beauty celebrity endorsements

The return of in-store shopping, growth for ‘taboo’ products and demand for at-home salon treatments are just some of the industry trends we can expect to see this year, says NielsenIQ.

CosmeticsDesign-USA caught up with Anna Mayo, VP of account development for NielsenIQ’s beauty division, for an exclusive interview about her expectations for 2023. Here’s what she revealed…

New trend predictions for 2023

. The return of in-store shopping

Global events in recent years had forced more businesses to operate online, but Mayo stated that there was likely to be a backlash to this and more shoppers would be searching for in-person experiences in 2023, especially at beauty specialty stores. “While online shopping is certainly here to stay for beauty, it has stabilized at about 30% of beauty sales,” ​she revealed. However, she still expected TikTok and other social media channels to drive trends and product popularity this year.

. ​Taboo topics step into the limelight

According to Mayo, areas of beauty and personal care that were previously avoided would see increased focus this year. “Consumers are demanding solutions to issues that were previously swept under the rug and not up for discussion,” ​she said. Menopause support/embracing aging, acne acceptance/acne patches, sexual wellness and men's cosmetics were just some of the areas she expected to see NPD and growth.

.​ ‘Skinification' of other categories

Hair care, body care and color cosmetics products would start using ingredients and attributes that were traditionally associated with skin care, said Mayo. “They will move to include ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C in products other than face care,” ​she said.

. ​Salon treatments at home

Mayo said the current inflationary economy had forced many beauty consumers to think twice before they scheduled salon appointments, so there would be an increased need for products that offered salon-quality results. “Specifically gel manicures and high-end hair dye, as in-salon treatment prices have risen so much,”​ she said.

How 2022 trends will evolve in 2023

Mayo also revealed ways that industry trends from 2022 were likely to continue to evolve this year.

. Clean beauty focused on sustainability

The clean beauty movement would transition from an emphasis on ingredients to a focus on sustainability instead, she said. “Consumers are expecting the ingredients in their products to be clean, but are also looking for companies to take steps to promote a more sustainable industry. Interest in plastic-free, biodegradable, refillable, reusable packaging is all on the rise.”

. Increased criticism of 'greenwashing'

Conversation about 'greenwashing' and skepticism around brands using clean claims just as marketing would continue to grow, ​said Mayo. “Chemicals like phthalates and sulfates were universally labeled as 'bad' when certain products may have quantities or variants that are actually beneficial or needed. The conversation will be open to more nuance,” ​she said.

. Sustainability in packaging and supply chains

Mayo also expected that consumers would want to know more about the entire journey to manufacture a product. “There are questions about what is happening further up the supply chain, i.e. the sustainability of natural ingredients versus synthetic when synthetic may be gentler on the environment,”​ she said.

. ​The future of celebrity brands

In 2022, celeb-launched beauty and personal care brands ruled new product innovation and were an area of growth, she said, but these brands would likely need new tactics if they wanted to stick around in 2023. “Currently, they top $720 million in sales, with sales up by +37%, but so many are new, so we will be watching to see if this growth continues as the novelty of the new brand dies down,” ​said Mayo.

. More 'Made for Me' solutions

The beauty and personal care sector would also continue to see the growth in specialized products and movement away from mainstream solutions such as for 'normal' skin or hair, she said. “Consumers are looking for more bespoke solutions that feel made for them,” ​said Mayo. “The cost of truly personalizing a beauty product is too high for it to be mainstream, but the use of product quizzes and continued development of specialized solutions (i.e. menopausal skin care) will be a place to find growth.”

. ​The impact of inflation

Inflation had caused a slowdown in unit sales for the industry in 2022, but on a dollar basis, sales were still growing due to price increases. “High-income and younger consumers have not been too impacted, but lower-income and older have cut back on purchases,” ​said Mayo. “So far, this higher-end growth has been able to make up for the cutbacks among lower-income consumers, but it is still to be determined if that will continue this year.”​ 

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