In Brands, Exclusives, Insight, Retail

Affordable, high quality, on trend, and fast to market, beauty is officially keeping up with fashion’s fast phenomenon.

Kylie Cosmetics, Be For Beauty, Winky Luxy, Deciem, Wet n Wild—chances are you have either heard of or shopped from these brands. And if you haven’t, it won’t be long. Why? Because they are leading the movement towards affordable luxury with super-speedy, short lead-product cycles.

Consumers have developed an insatiable demand for beauty. Our recent research shows that shoppers are purchasing multiple products of the same genre at the same time, with a desire to use them of course, but also to share their swag on social media.  It’s a “more, more , more” mentality that delivers a “spend, spend, spend” reaction. Frankly this is just what stores need right now, and they need to act fast in order to stay in the game.

But quality must not be compromised. Yes products are no longer in the traditional production stages (it’s now weeks, not years, from concept to launch), but there is still an expectation of luxury and high quality. This is forcing brands to rethink their timelines.  At the frontier of these fast-beauty players are e.l.f. Cosmetics, who have adopted this lightning-speed production line since it launched in 2004.

Remy Klein, Marketing Director at e.l.f., explained, “While the speed of the beauty industry has increased over the past few years, e.l.f. has been a pioneer of on-trend, fast-cycle innovation since the company was founded over 14 years ago (launching first as a DTC e-commerce business). e.l.f.’s founders built the integrated business and flexible supply chain to be able to deliver with speed, understanding the importance of bringing beauty enthusiasts the high-quality products they desire now, all at an extraordinary value. Leveraging this model, we have continued to improve our speed and operations over the years, now with the ability to take an e.l.f. product idea from concept to online launch in as few as 13 weeks—staying on top of beauty trends that move at an incredible rate today.”

This is having a natural impact on distribution, and which retailers brands are choosing to partner with. It’s never been more critical to consider these factors, as these fast-paced and on-trend products have to be more accessible than ever before.

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has been proactive and is taking on Boots and Superdrug to become a destination for beauty with a major makeover of their beauty offerings—new and exciting brands in a convenient setting. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as the beauty industry is set to reach £27 billion by 2020, with annual spend set to soar from £73 to £487 per shopper. Expect more brands (like Essie and Tweezerman), two limited-edition Birchbox boxes, its own vegan line, and beauty advisors on hand for assistance.

Even beauty blogger and presenter Nadine Baggott (of The Beauty Know It All) recently admitted in one of her YouTube videos, “If I lost my job tomorrow there are a lot of things I wouldn’t go into a department store to buy, I’d go to Boots, Superdrug, Waitrose, or Marks and Spencer.” Supermarkets really are becoming the new destination for beauty.

The flip side of the phenomenon is industry experts warning against poor quality, sustainability, counterfeiting, manufacturing and labor. Of particular note is the current conversation on “dupe” brands—those who seek to copy their higher-end, higher-priced muses. Copycatting is nothing new, we’ve seen it in the fashion business for years, with Academy Awards-inspired dresses filling the rails of high street stores before the final acceptance speech and high-fashion catwalk looks from NY, Milan, and Paris in the windows of Zara, before you can say “What a wonderful Fashion Week, darling.” But what must be considered before fingers are wagged, is that stock bottles, lids, and packaging are the only option available to smaller producers, and that making something that’s covetable more attainable due to a friendly price point, broadens the conversation, strengthens the trend, and ultimately drives revenue in the beauty market.

So it’s safe to say it’s a very interesting time in beauty. We can’t help but wonder, how steadfast will “fast beauty” prove to be?

Photo: James Graham via Unsplash

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