Strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory recently declared this year as the dawn of “The Great Re-Engagement” for retail. Now their Beauty & Wellness Futures 2022 report is seeing a similar revival for the beauty, health, and wellness realms.
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The futures consultancy’s predictions for 2022 sees consumers trust in science increasing, emphasizing proven efficacy and safety, and substantiated sustainability claims amidst a turbulent world. “We are speeding into the age of the expert,” says The Future Laboratory co-founder Martin Raymond. “For beauty and wellness, this equates to research, testing, proof points and facts that will foster understanding, trust and positive sentiment among audiences.” This movement is driven by global drivers identified by The Future Laboratory such as a new post-pandemic, health-focused mindset and increasing trust in research bodies and field experts, as well as biotechnology enabling eco-conscious innovation—all of which will shape the way consumers engage with brands in the coming years.
It not only means a shift in relation to influencer marketing, but also the clean category as a whole. “The expertise, evidence, and certification that we are going to see is just making sure that it's not equating clean beauty with natural, but with brands, formulas, ingredients, and products that can quantify the effectiveness and impact of their products and are striving to innovate,” Kathryn Bishop, Foresight Editor at The Future Laboratory, tells BeautyMatter. Limiting the exhaustion of natural resources and ensuring product safety are another top priority in the evolution of the clean beauty category, hence why biotech will only further proliferate over the coming years. It’s also a redeeming moment for tried-and-true synthetic ingredients. Trending ingredients, in tune with themes of future resilience, include robust raw materials such as the Myrothamnus flabellifolia plant and microalgae from the desert of Sahel.
Greenwashing claims have understandably eroded consumer trust, so claims around product efficacy and ingredients need to be verified. That verification will also extend to the influencer marketing realm—a term now redefined as the “realfluencer”—as promoting a product needs to be backed up with evidence of its benefits, rather than pure hype. Here brands can step in by educating their ambassadors on the science behind why their product works, with in-house product creators and cosmetics scientists stepping out of the laboratory and into the spotlight, echoing the success of content creators such as Dr. Dray or Lab Muffin Beauty Science. “Coming through Covid, we have this wave of trusting in science and qualified experts,” Bishop comments.
When it comes to what those qualifications are (product efficacy, sustainability, ethical working practices), Bishop notes that all three work in unison; however the weighting towards one specific side is consumer dependent. Regardless, credibility via certification to help instill consumer trust is important, as people look to purchase efficacious products with expert backing, proven to be produced under sustainable and ethical conditions, over marketing-hyped variations.
The pricing of the products themselves has also been shaped with our times. Due to current inflation, companies such as UK drugstore Boots and Unilever are ensuring product prices remain stable, even if it is a financial burden for the brand to bear. “Brands are going to need to start digging into their civic duty to maintain consumer sentiments for the challenges ahead,” Bishop notes. This includes structural changes in supply chains due to climate shifts or other disruptions.
In short, being a beauty brand in 2022 entails a commitment to file the (B Corp) paperwork, providing evidence for a sustainable supply chain internally as well as externally, and being a trusted companion to consumers—be it through multisensory activations and gamification in the metaverse, all the way to ensuring price stability at any cost. It may be a case of “sink or swim” in the (hopefully plastic-free) waters, but the tides show no sign of turning anytime soon.
Amidst consumer desires for exciting avenues into optimal health, skincare brands are adopting cryotherapy techniques and formulations for SKUs with a chilling kick.
Trust doesn’t only relate to brands, but professional services as well, with salon and spa spaces having emerged as an important social anchor throughout the pandemic, and beyond.
Perhaps a fitting metaphor for resilience, skincare and active ingredients companies are utilizing desert plants, be it the Myrothamnus flabellifolia or “resurrection” plant or microalgae native to the Sahel desert.
The online world has had an especially strong pull on the fragrance industry, with companies creating scents emulating the (crowdsourced-determined) smell of the cyberverse. Others are harnessing the power of audio-based branding to lock in positive product memories and brand affiliations by experiencing it in unison with an auditory cue. Everything from the style of music chosen to how the experience is delivered will need to be in cohesion with brand identity.
Individual purpose and brand identity translation need to be a key consideration when trying to crack the metaverse. Merging sustainability, social, or community efforts with these activations are proving fruitful, as are unexpected combinations such as merging the gaming and metaverse in fitness appliances.
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