How Can Beauty Brands Innovate in Times of Crisis?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused one of the most unprecedented shifts in consumer behaviour in recent times, which beauty brands must pay close attention to in order to innovate and adapt in times of crisis.

As a result of people spending more time at home, beauty brands must find new ways to reach consumers. By tapping into the gaming world, brands can drive engagement, build brand awareness, and promote new products. Gaming is an ever-growing business, with global sales set to rise to $159 billion in 2020. Engagement with the gaming industry has spiked due to widespread lockdowns, darker nights and fears of the “second wave”, leading more people to spend their evenings at home. Givenchy Beauty, for example, has partnered with Animal Crossing, a Nintendo Switch video game. This partnership enables players to beautify gaming avatars using real-world products, bringing a new meaning to trialling at home. In this way, the fusion of video games and beauty can act as a form of self-expression, channelling themes of escapism and artistry. It is an opportunity to take advantage of technology, whilst distracting from the contemporary comparison-culture of social media.

Hygiene concerns have also impacted consumer behaviour with regards to one’s interaction with beauty retailing. The requirement to minimise contact in store has led to the innovation of safe “no-contact concepts”, such as single use sample techniques and “phygital” tools, like smart-mirrors and motion-activated dispensers. Having said this, many potential customers now prefer to stay home altogether, leading to a spike in online retail. The Pure Culture Skincare Starter Set has worked around this by crafting the custom set’s formulas from results of individual skin profile surveys and at-home tests. The results from these reflect one’s skin condition, skin barrier and levels of UV exposure, hydration, and irritation, with an option even for a microbiome test to look at the diversity of microbes in the user’s skin. With 25% of US beauty product users unsure which product is best for them, and 66% interested in customisable skincare, this is innovation can provide expert advice without requiring the consumer to visit the store.

The positive effects of lockdown on nature have increased eco-consciousness on a global scale. One third of French consumers claim to place a higher priority on the environment than pre-COVID 19. Pure Culture Skincare’s Starter Set exemplifies this trend, with its new product using formulas that are free of sulphate, parabens, phthalates, and mineral oil. The product also features prebiotics and postbiotics to nourish skin and maintain pH balance, which aligns with the corresponding trend of increased concern over hygiene, sparked by the pandemic. Beauty brands can take advantage of these concerns by adding functional benefits to their products, that might usually only be found in health departments.

The results of the COVID-19 lockdowns have presented challenges for consumers as well as retailers, with many facing furlough, reduced hours, or even redundancy. Therefore, beauty brands can offer dual-action and multi-purpose products for consumers looking to get the most out of their purchase

during difficult economic times. Skin Inc’s Hand Serum and Sanitiser Duo, for example, is designed with dual pumps for sanitiser and serum for hand care in one container. The sanitiser has a 65% alcohol content, destroying bacteria, whilst being gentle on skin. The serum soothes and strengthens skin, with a combination of vitamin B3, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and liquorice. This product is reflective of another COVID-19 trend of hand care innovations, with a particular focus on caring for skin, dried out from frequent washing and sanitising.

To conclude, beauty brands can innovate to take advantage of shifts in consumer behaviour during this time of crisis, by reaching customers through social media and gaming, selling to them with personal online retail experiences, and innovating products for the increasingly eco and hygiene-conscious consumer. Whilst global revenue for the beauty industry could fall by up to 30 per cent this year, the pandemic has arguably accelerated progress in the sector by years in terms of the innovation it is experiencing. Therefore, now is the time for beauty brands to adapt to a completely reshaped market in order to best take advantage of when the industry’s recession becomes a resurgence.

Analyst: Samuel Hughes-Penny

Sector Head: Morgan Sword

Editor: Harry Forbes-Nixon