Sustainable innovations can give the beauty industry a much-needed boost post-COVID-19

Nerissa Low, founder of Liht Organics, is a multi-award-winning financial practitioner, a self-made entrepreneur, and a speaker in the areas of finance and personal empowerment. A firm believer of holistic development, Nerissa was awarded the coveted Women Entrepreneur Award and Singapore Prestige Class Award for Business Leadership and Excellence in 2019/2020.

While the industry is projected to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and be worth over $463.5 billion by 2027, for beauty and wellness businesses, some things are never going to be the same

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Make-up brushes and powders are seen backstage before the presentation of Japanese designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae Fall-Winter 2013/2014. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Make-up brushes and powders are seen backstage before the presentation of Japanese designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae Fall-Winter 2013/2014. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The global beauty industry suffered an estimated 20-30 percent decline in 2020 according to Mckinsey & Company as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the year saw record levels of e-commerce sales, the combination of a lack of disposable income and a reported 17 percent of people who stopped wearing make-up due to remote working and lockdowns, it wasn’t enough to compensate for the losses.

While the industry is projected to recover and be worth over $463.5 billion by 2027, for beauty and wellness businesses, some things are never going to be the same. The shift in consumer behaviour during the pandemic highlighted not only a need for digitisation in the industry, but that consumers are becoming more aware of the products they use and how they use them.

Hygiene and safety concerns, as well as global safety advice around avoiding contamination on your hands and face have meant that consumer preferences are leaning towards sprays or stick make-up products that limit the amount consumers touch their face. But it’s also the ingredients in the products that are facing scrutiny.

The shift towards non-toxic formulas, transparent ingredient labels, and minimal environmental impact meant that as the global beauty industry suffered in 2020, clean beauty rose 11 percent according to NPD. This was supported when 40 percent of consumers in Mintel’s report on COVID’s impact in beauty retail stated that the source and type of ingredients used to formulate a beauty product is important to them.

But what does this mean for businesses and a beauty industry hoping to rebound post-COVID-19, and what innovations should be considered to meet the clean and sustainable demand?

Multi-use products: Among millennials, 54 percent has simplified their skincare routines and are aiming for less products on their vanity. Instead, they are looking for products that can perform multiple functions in their daily routine. For example, brands who start innovating multi-use products like foundation with built-in organic SPF protection will have less packaging or environmental impact whilst catering to consumers’ needs.

Efficacy is still important: Consumers are still interested in products that work, so finding the ingredients that are effective should not be forgotten as brands turn towards clean beauty.

Digital engagement to reduce carbon footprint: Alongside new e-commerce offerings, beauty brands should be looking at ways to bring a unique experience online to remove the need for physical stores to reduce their environmental impact. This could be using augmented or virtual reality to allow consumers to try different swatch colours without being in store.

Ethical sourcing (and labelling): According to Mintel, 78 percent of people surveyed think companies should act ethically, but many agreed that it is difficult to know who is, and who isn’t. Brands who are ethical and provide information on their website, product labels, and in-stores can help consumers identify and relate their brand to clean beauty.

Extend the clean palette: Current clean beauty limits colour ranges to nudes, neutrals or pastels, but the beauty industry needs to find natural and organic ways to bring the same bold colours without the dangerous and toxic chemicals. Consumers are looking for the same range and brands who can give them this in a sustainable way will stand out.

With health and safety more important than ever in the mind of customers, and the beauty industry shifting, brands should be turning their efforts towards beauty products that are truly organic, safe, and sustainable. While there is optimism in the industry’s recovery, brands must be totally committed to driving sustainable innovations in the long run because like any natural and organic beauty transformation, it won’t happen overnight.

© Opinion 2021

Any opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own

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