Special Edition: in-Cosmetics Global Pre-Show

Cost-of-living beauty: Brands must earn a ‘deserved place’ in shopping baskets, says Mintel

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The perceived value of a beauty product is now more important than ever for consumers, but it's not just about price [Getty Images]
The perceived value of a beauty product is now more important than ever for consumers, but it's not just about price [Getty Images]

Related tags 2023 beauty trends Consumer trends cost of living crisis Value retail e-commerce premium beauty sustainable beauty in-cosmetics Global

Long-lasting products, mood-boosting offerings and engaging experiences are more important than ever as consumers navigate the ongoing cost-of-living crisis globally, says the head of beauty and personal care research at Mintel.

Whilst global consumer price inflation was set to fall to 6.5% in 2023 from an average of 9.4% in 2022, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, consumers and industry continued to face the challenge of navigating costs. And for beauty, this meant value would remain a key word and topic this year, according to Andrew McDougall, director of beauty and personal care research at Mintel.

‘Sensible’ spending in beauty and personal care

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, McDougall said: “As the spotlight of value becomes even brighter amid the current cost-of-living crisis, beauty and personal care brands will have to prove to consumers that their products have a deserved place in shopping baskets.”

Brands benefitting from “high levels of loyalty” were best placed to do this, he said, but there were other angles companies could take beyond relying on consumer loyalty.

Targeting other means of value, like long-lasting or premium products as consumers looked to “spend money as sensibly as possible”, were some options to consider, he said.

All the while, he said sustainability remained important for consumers. “The proportion of eco-conscious consumers is still on the rise and therefore brands that prove ethically sound and transparent will benefit from providing consumers with a better understanding of the impacts that purchase habits can have.”

Beauty value is not just about price

Clearly, McDougall said, value in beauty and personal care was not just about price. Convenience and quality were also “key pillars” influencing consumer spend in the category, with several important areas of opportunity from a trend standpoint, he said.

Products or beauty routines centred around mood enhancement, for example, continued to be important to invest in because amidst the “ongoing income squeeze”, he said. During the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, he said consumers had turned to beauty as an “affordable means to life their mood” and so developing “uplifting” products and contributing to post-pandemic self-care would be key across numerous categories, including sexual wellness, hormones and wellness at every life stage.

Consumer engagement and community-building were also important when investing in consumer touchpoints to drive perceived value, he said. For retailers, this meant innovating and investing in then shopping experience to remain attractive to “value-centric consumers”.

“There are opportunities for using the latest technology, such as AI and AR, to improve the experience both in-store and online through virtual try-on and professional consultations as consumers increasingly look for customised beauty solutions,” he said.  Looking ahead, McDougall said it would be interesting to see how consumer engagement and connection was incorporated into shopping in a “seamless and complimentary way”.

Innovative opportunities in beauty ingredients

Ahead of the upcoming in-Cosmetics Global tradeshow in Barcelona – one of the biggest annual meeting grounds for every part of the beauty and personal care supply chain – McDougall said there were some interesting areas of opportunity for ingredients and packaging to consider.

Beauty consumers were increasingly interested in the ingredients behind beauty and personal care products, he said, and this was largely driven by a desire to understand efficacy and ensure they were safe to use. “Consumers recognise a gap in their product knowledge and expect brands to help them fill it with easy-to-understand, honest information. Not only do consumers want to know what is included in their products, they want to understand the rationale for its inclusion.”

Safety, health and efficacy, he said, were therefore three areas of opportunity for ingredients to speak to “clearly and concisely” because it was what consumers were considering closely.

Additionally, he said consumer awareness of active and natural ingredients boded well for beauty, though brands would have to go the “extra mile” in validating effectiveness. “As the market progresses to include new eco-innovations, including bioengineered ingredients with environmental benefits, brands must keep efficacy top-of-mind while speaking to additionally desired ingredient attributes,” McDougall said.

Promise in beauty packaging

On the packaging side, the market expert said there was plenty of promise in taking packaging beyond its traditional glamour and fun side.

“Post-pandemic, consumers are also seeking experimentation, social responsibility and even value from brands in traditional retail venues as well as online and via e-commerce. This means package manufacturers must deliver physical, emotional, visual, digital and even environmental attributes that mesh with beauty and personal care consumers’ changing lifestyles and purchasing capabilities to remain fresh and relevant.”

Packaging also provided a great platform to inform and communicate better with consumers, he said.

“Packaging remains not only a constant but an integral part of the beauty and personal care consumer experience, whether through eco-responsible structures and materials, dispensing systems that ensure 100% product evacuation or close to it, messaging about eco-attributes, or communication of a brand’s core values.”

Looking ahead, McDougall said brands and package manufacturers ought to, therefore, “embrace next-generation package technologies” that connected with consumers at retail level, in the home or in “any and all channels” they used or preferred.

McDougall was due to dive into this more in Barcelona during the Market Trends programme on the first day at in-Cosmetics Global, with a presentation on ‘the beauty of science and its role in satisfying a more engaged consumer’.

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