Conscious consumerism is key for UK prestige beauty says NPD
Mar 25, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is dominating most consumers’ and businesses’ thinking at the moment, but companies and market analysts are still looking to a post-coronavirus world in which other subjects come to the fore.
With that in mind, NPD UK said on Wednesday that sustainability remains the key topic in the prestige beauty market "and will shape brand strategy for years to come”.
The market researcher’s UK beauty account manager, Emma Fishwick, said: “Sustainability is the number one topic for brands in the prestige beauty market as consumers demand a cleaner, greener approach to products, packaging, and the environment. The market has shifted substantially in the past few years and we have seen brands respond to the changing demands of conscious consumers with innovation. A notable shift is the reduction in unit sales: we saw a [5%] decline in unit sales in 2019.”
She explained that this decrease was partly due to consumers buying fewer single products and instead opting for multi-purpose, larger sized products. Hybrid, multi-purpose products are proving popular, “especially those that combine skincare and make-up benefits”.
She feels it’s important for companies to respond to what really matters for consumers and to avoid PR problems in running their businesses. Fishwick said “transparency and traceability in the supply chain, in ingredients used and the formulation of products is a priority for the beauty buyer. The problems caused by over-packaging, a reliance on plastic and the creation and disposal of waste regularly make headlines in the beauty press. Carbon footprint and waste reduction are now part of the vernacular of the beauty industry.”
What this all means for the market as a whole is that we are seeing a lot of new ideas and innovation. NPD cited Dior, Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent that have all developed refillable packaging for their super-premium lines. And it said refillable fragrances have the potential to reduce waste. Meanwhile, “Kiehl’s is using sustainability sourced quinoa husk in products, Upcircle is one of many brands repurposing coffee grounds in body scrubs and the Body Shop is using bananas that have been rejected due to the incorrect shape and size in its latest hair conditioner. REN has championed beach clean-ups and has developed the first fully recyclable pump.”
One challenge that the industry has to face up to and that is also possibly denting sales is that conscious consumers are thinking twice about buying more.
“The eco story goes beyond beauty to the wider public,” Fishwick explained. “There is a strong social media movement to buy less as demonstrated by ‘Buy Nothing Day’ in November. Amongst beauty devotees we are witnessing a backlash to the ‘beauty haul’ videos on YouTube. Throughout 2019 and into 2020, the ‘anti-haul’ video has grown in popularity. And Green Friday was launched as an antidote to Black Friday to champion sustainability over spending.”
Additionally, packaging initiatives such as Terra Cycle’s focus on recycling hard-to-recycle plastic waste, and bans on ingredients such as microbeads, are having an impact.
But NPD said brands need to go further in meeting consumers’ “seismic shift in attitudes and behaviours”. That includes pursuing carbon-neutrality and setting strong targets for cutting the volume of packaging and waste.
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