What Beauty Professionals Need to Know Today
Discover the most recent and relevant industry news and insights for beauty professionals, to help you excel in your job interviews, promotion conversations or simply to perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.
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Key articles and need-to-know insights for marketing professionals today:
One year ago, The Business of Fashion announced our growing commitment to covering the global beauty and wellness industries. In 2023, we created two must-read weekly beauty newsletters; published a special edition of BoF’s “State of Fashion” report with McKinsey & Company on the beauty industry, created two deep-dive case studies on E.l.f. Cosmetics and hero products; and debuted the invitation-only The Business of Beauty Global Forum in Napa Valley, California.
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In 2024, shopping for beauty is being driven by a combination of influencer-led impulse buys and practical online research. Customers are scooping up viral fragrances or blushes recommended by TikTok’s “it-girls” like Alix Earle or Sofia Richie, while at the same time doing meticulous research on skincare ingredients and products that align with shoppers’ limited budgets. TikTok continues to set off beauty crazes, which often correlate with strong sales for everything from Hailey Bieber-inspired makeup to hair oil.
But beyond the latest trending products, beauty consumers have also taken a practical turn with an interest in cosmeceuticals and hair treatment ingredients that deliver instant outcomes. “Consumers are very educated and they’re looking for efficacy. When brands can provide very clear explanations of how they deliver results, they’ve been really effective in the market,” said Sasha Radic, managing director at Jefferies.
Even with a high profile founder, a slew of influential investors and healthy wholesale distribution, the chief executive of Hair by Sam McKnight still has one pressing focus: customer acquisition. “[We’re asking] how do we get new people to hear about our brand and buy in,” said Joel Edmondson, chief executive of Hair by Sam McKnight. While the answer used to be to just spend for market share, organic social media — or even paid media — long ago ceased to be a lucrative, low-cost growth engine.
Mounting challenges from raising customer acquisition costs, reduced access to capital, inflationary pressures and sector oversaturation are stacking up. To rise to the challenge, founders are looking beyond the small screen of the smartphone to reach new audiences and streamlining their spending. They are also figuring out how to sate demand for newness and innovation while also balancing that need against a more sustainable, manageable product rollout calendar.
Hailey Bieber probably didn’t set out to be a lip gloss mogul, but somehow, that’s where she landed. In August, Rhode released Strawberry Glaze. A month later came lip tints, in berry, pink, mauve and brown, all of which are currently sold out on Rhode’s website. For her 27th birthday in November, Bieber debuted a Jelly Bean lip tint, a celebratory, sparkly gloss with a “candy-coated scent.” There was less effort to lay the groundwork for candy-themed cosmetics, but the product attracted a massive waitlist before its release and sold out quickly.
But it’s how these products are marketed — as treatments and “lip care” versus gloss, which is what they are — that explains their resurgence. Lumping lip gloss in with skincare, rather than makeup, appeals to our pathological quest for self-care and betterment. The inclusion of skincare ingredients could, for some shoppers, justify higher prices.
The second half of 2023 saw the demise of biotechnology company Amyris, which had a number of celebrity-backed brands. In 2022, revenue for its consumer brands spiked as high as $175.5 million. But by June 2023, it had plummeted to $59 million. Forma Brands, the parent company of Morphe, went bankrupt in January 2023. Of course, a great brand or business model on paper is no guarantee of real-world success. Investors have already tried to hedge their bets with smaller, more careful funding rounds, and some founders are seeking lower valuations to prevent overgrowth.
Many digitally native brands are locked in the Catch-22 of needing to enter wholesale to scale, but their margins are not able to sustain the same level of profitability if they do. Brands often fail to account for the cost of merchandising in stores, as well as the heightened price of sourcing ingredients and maintaining their supply chain as they grow. In short, small brands can’t — and shouldn’t — act like much bigger ones.
Spanish beauty and fashion conglomerate Puig has acquired a majority stake in German premium skincare brand Dr. Barbara Sturm, bolstering the group’s position in the luxury skincare market. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources close to the company say retail sales reached $150 million in 2023.
Brand founder Barbara Sturm will retain a minority stake in the business and stay on as chief product officer and brand ambassador. In a statement announcing the Dr. Barbara Sturm deal, Puig said it aimed to expand the brand internationally, growing its existing network of spas and boutiques.
Some of the most exciting projects of my career have been deconstructing faces on the catwalk for the likes of Junya Watanabe, Thom Browne and Vivienne Westwood, or applying melted plastic bags to create reptilian-like skin, writes Isamaya Ffrench. […] But as someone who likes to approach beauty in an out-there way — the outsider has always been in for me — I often get asked: “How does that, then, translate into sales?”
I often look at fashion brands and ask myself the same questions. “How have they managed to accommodate avant-garde creativity and make it work in an accessible and commercial way?” […] For every balloon dress, there are ten thousand Comme [des Garçons] trainers sold in every major department store around the world and in the case of Balenciaga, no one rocks a 4 foot shoulder pad better than Kim Kardashian on Instagram. Ultimately, fashion and beauty have to be both desirable and relatable.
I had a blast watching the new “Mean Girls” movie, writes Faran Krentcil. Actress and pop minx Reneé Rapp owns every scene, but someone else owns the brand sponsorship: E.l.f. Cosmetics. E.l.f. is the only beauty label to appear on screen, and even gets mentioned by name in a pivotal moment. (E.l.f. also released a “Mean Girls”-inspired makeup set online called “Every Day We Wear Pink,” including five of the line’s rosy best sellers.)
The brazen #sponcon reminded me, more than a bit, of the beauty content that came out of The Golden Globes on January 7. Yes, beauty brands have long paid for red carpet gold, but this season’s placements were pretty blatant product ads. Some were even helmed by independent creative directors who accompanied talent to document their “Golden Globes journey,” turning the awards show into its multiple little commercials.