Conscious beauty is a new approach to skincare
Trends in the cosmetics industry have been evolving from ‘green’ to ‘clean’ to ‘conscious’ beauty. All this poses new challenges for cosmetics brands. The global pandemic has raised the bar when it comes to skin health and effective skincare standards. At the same time environmental concerns grow, accompanied by increasing scepticism towards natural and organic ingredients, while the notion of clean beauty comes under more scrutiny.
How trends evolve
Studies published by Euromonitor International in July 2020 have shown that in 2019 the term ‘natural’ was number one among most frequently used online claims for cosmetics and personal care products. Based on an analysis of e-commerce data from 1500 retailers all over the world it has been proven that the claim ‘natural’ was observed in 3,3% of all SKUs sold online. Further down the list were ‘moisturizing’ - 3,2%, ‘no parabens’ - 2,8% followed by ‘antioxidant’ and ‘organic’. In 2020 consumers shifted their focus to brands and products that promised safety, transparency, efficacy, ethical and sustainable sourcing as well as personalisation.
The growing appeal of health and wellness products is mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mintel, 2021 will be the year of ‘beauty wellness’ as well as ethical and environmental concerns.
Natural vs. effective cosmetics
Up until recently natural ingredients were seen as cleaner and safer, thanks to which the ‘natural’ trend was among the prevailing ones. However, according to Euromonitor International experts, consumers’ engagement shifts more and more towards clean and conscious beauty, putting safety, transparency and ethical sourcing first.
Euromonitor’s report from July 2020 indicates that 40% of respondents prefer proven efficacy over natural or organic ingredients, while in skincare category only 25% of respondents value natural or organic ingredients more than efficacy. At the same time phrases like ‘eco-’ and ‘environment friendly’ gain in popularity.
Conscious consumers these days want to know more about what makes a certain product natural and where its ingredients came from. This is a challenge to cosmetics brands, who will have to be even more transparent and precise in describing their ingredients and phrasing their marketing claims. According to Euromonitor, there is a growing proportion of consumers who believe that ‘natural’ does not necessarily mean ‘better’ from the point of view of efficacy or environmental protection, so they choose a more deliberate and personalized skincare approach.
‘Clean beauty’ taken to another level
Brands that are defined by simplicity, transparency and simple packaging have become enormously successful. Clean beauty is a combination of minimalism, simplicity and safety, no matter what the ingredients are: natural or synthetic. This term was created as an antidote to the non-standardised ‘green beauty’ segment. But nowadays ‘clean beauty’ has been taken to yet another level – ‘conscious beauty’, combining ethical business with safety and the ability to satisfy the aware and mindful consumer, who is keen on avoiding unnecessary risks.
‘Conscious beauty’ is a more deliberate and methodical approach to skincare. Consumers have become more aware of their individual skin sensitivity, thus acting in a more personalized way to deal with any skin problems. But being a conscious consumer is not only about focusing on one’s own personal needs but also trying to see the needs of the surrounding environment. This means that consumers engage in a broader ethical and environmental impact analysis of their purchases, which is just as important as their personal priorities.
Conscious consumerism with regard to ethical and environmental aspects
According to Euromonitor Lifestyles survey in 2020, 47% of consumers globally believed that climate change would affect their future lives more than it affected their present lives. In 2019 this sentiment was shared only by 42% of respondents. With the challenges caused by climate change already, sustainability strategies are not just something that the niche companies do. In 2020 major players in the cosmetics industry have spent considerable resources on sustainability initiatives, like refill systems, biodegradable packaging, transparent supply chains, and sustainable development strategies.
The definition of sustainable development is evolving to include more than ethical and environmental issues because consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that reflect their own values, expecting that cosmetics companies will do more than just compensate for their negative impact on people and the planet. According to the Euromonitor ‘Voice of the Industry Sustainability Survey’, 60% of respondents from the cosmetics industry claimed that their companies were going to balance social, health and environmental issues in the future. Cosmetics brands have acknowledged their ethical and moral responsibility, which is driven by the fact that some brands have been held accountable for unethical conduct. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests in 2020 led to a huge outcry against brands that sell skin whitening products and promote fair skin as ideal, because of which big multinationals like Unilever and L'Oréal removed words and phrases referring to whitening and brightening from their claims. Sephora committed to the 15 Percent Pledge, meaning that 15% of shelf space in its US stores will be dedicated to products made by black-owned companies.
Conscious consumerism will affect all areas of the beauty industry – from product innovation to sustainable development to gender and racial diversity. Demand for effective products that meet individual skin needs will continue to be a priority. At the same time cosmetics companies will be scrutinized even more thoroughly and obliged to do business in a sustainable manner for the sake of the environment and an ethical future. So these issues are expected to remain a key part of their strategies for the coming years.