Marketing data and analytics company Kantar worked with its DX Analytics proprietary toolkit and applied AI and analytics to big data (search and social) to identify emerging beauty and personal care trends.
The company reviewed almost 90 billion searches over a period of five years across more than 100 countries and discovered an overarching consumer need for "holistic beauty accelerated by technology".
“We analysed search engine data for around 250+ topics spanning across multiple areas – ingredients, products, concerns, routine, treatments, sustainability and application area,” explained Serene Wilson, Digital Analytics Global Insights Lead at Kantar.
“We considered search data from the last five years across the globe. We then overlaid human insight and Kantar's trends framework to identify growth opportunities for brands across markets, languages, and categories.”
Wilson said Kantar found opportunities for brands to cater to consumers’ emotional, physical, social and spiritual needs while delivering on their personal care promises.
“For example, with the rise of the health and wellness movement, skincare continues to go from strength to strength – as consumers seek complexions that exude health and vitality,” she explained. “In this context, tech is pushing the vitality agenda further.”
As a product example, Wilson highlighted Johnson & Johnson’s 3D-printed, personalised skin health supplement, which launched under the Neutrogena brand earlier this year – capitalising on the growing ‘inside-out’ approach to beauty.”
Trends in the ‘physical realm’
In terms of the physical realm, Kantar found that more consumers were conducting searches around boosting their health and wellness by using plant-derived ingredients.
The company found that although searches around makeup continued to be big, interest in colour cosmetics has clearly declined. Whereas skin care grew because more consumers placed a focus on achieving a healthier-looking complexion by using skin care products.
It said that the inflection point was the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when consumers became more interested in the growing health and wellness movement.
The research also revealed that consumers were increasingly knowledgeable about high-performing ingredients, and actively sought out products that are derived from plants and driven by science.
Meanwhile, key trending ingredients – such as retinol and niacinamide – focused on exfoliation, acne treatment, immunity, wrinkles, and skin elasticity.
The success of these ‘hero’ ingredients that were first found in facial care products had now migrated into body care products.
Kantar noted that brands such as Naturium and Paula’s Choice were now offering ‘powered-up’ body care products like niacinamide serum body wash, skin-renewing retinol lotion, and brightening vitamin C body wash.
Trends in the ‘social realm’
Kantar's research also revealed that beauty and personal care consumers are now pursuing something more meaningful and being more intentional about what they spend their money on.
An ever-growing consumer cohort expects that all products they buy will align with their values, which can include a variety of factors such as inclusivity, ultra-clean ingredients, sustainability claims, climate consciousness, social impact, and reviving traditional practices that are rooted in ancient wisdom.
Kantar highlighted beauty brands that are on a mission to reduce plastic waste in beauty, such as vegan makeup brand Axiology, which only uses 100%-recycled and recyclable packaging.
Trends in the ‘spiritual realm’
Kantar’s research also discovered that there is growing interest in activities and experiences that stimulate the senses in new ways.
It said that this could include physical experiences that triggered chemical reactions in the body: for example, ASMR, shamanism and psychedelic therapies.
As an example, the company highlighted German brand Noesa, which claims to ‘harness light power to stimulate cell renewal, repair and growth to improve skin’s defence mechanism and overall health’.
It also noted that innovation didn’t just come from new product launches. Application methods and techniques that stimulated the senses were important too, such as the crystal facial rollers that have gained popularity in recent years.
Trends in the ‘emotional realm’
And finally, Kantar’s search engine research and analysis also showed an increased consumer focus on custom-built personal care that has wellbeing capabilities and can provide some sort of ‘relief’.
It said the bigger interest in wellbeing potentially stretched to highly specific topics, such as providing women with beauty products designed to work with monthly hormone fluctuations. As an example, Kantar referred to French brand Typology that offers serums that cater to each week of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
It also gave a special mention to specific, technology-led curation particularly for skincare, with a rise in products that are customised to skin-related needs, such as skin care brand Proven, which uses AI to customise skincare through their skin genome platform.
What’s coming next?
According to Kantar, beauty and personal care brands will now need to focus on delivering on the ‘holistic’ promise aided by AI and other breakthrough technologies to provide a new level of personal care.
In terms of the ‘physical realm’, brands will need to “provide vitality” by catering to specific needs through thoughtfully designed formulas that are also efficacious and gentle.
Within the ‘social realm’, successful brands will need to demonstrate that they are conserving consumers’ ecosystems while also giving back to society.
In the ‘emotional realm’, successful brands are “actively fostering a higher sense of worth by rejecting harmful outdated norms”. Kantar shared that the emphasis is now on “how we feel, rather than how we look.”
In the ‘spiritual realm’ there is now a need for beauty and personal care brands to “stimulate the senses”. Successful brands are drawing on the growing interest in healing practices and ancient wellness techniques to provide consumers with a way forward in anxiety-riddled times.
“We expect the trend of beauty accelerated by tech to go from strength to strength,” concluded Wilson.
“As consumer understanding of mental, physical health and the science behind it continues to grow – data will be at the centre of it all. Coupled with the advancements in AI, we expect precision skin care to go to the next level as demand surges for personalised solutions that are targeted and deliver results.”