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Breaking Through the Noise: Translating UK Beauty Brands for Success in the USA

November 1, 2022
November 1, 2022
Spring Studios

Certain countries are renowned for their game-changing approach to beauty: we’ve all waxed lyrical about the appeal of French pharmacy, trawling the aisle for products that promise to give us that seemingly effortless Gallic glow. We’re all familiar with the multistep dedication to skin that characterizes J-Beauty and the playful, trend-led novelty of K-Beauty. And these are all movements that have captured the hearts and minds of US beauty lovers in recent years.

British fashion, British film, and British music have all made waves stateside over the past few decades, and yet it feels that “B-Beauty” or “Brit Beauty” (whichever coinage you wish to use) hasn’t yet quite achieved the same fame or traction.

Although there are a wealth of amazing, internationally successful British beauty brands out there, we’re yet to see these standout players recognized under a united “Brit beauty” banner, because the reality is, what makes British beauty brands great cannot be distilled to a homogenized characteristic or singular proposition: all of these brands are independently and eclectically notable in their own right—which is, in many ways, “very British.”

In lieu of a formulaic playbook, Spring has drawn on our years of experience partnering with UK beauty brands to define a set of 5 key principles and insights that Brit beauty brands can leverage to translate themselves for success in the USA:

1. Reflect the rich multifacetedness of Brit Beauty

When looking to leverage “brand Britain,” it’s critical to not be too predictable, or fall foul of tired clichés. Instead, Brit beauty brands should celebrate the rich melting pot of cultures, personalities, ingredients, and influences that make up the UK today.

While London as the epicenter of Britishness is still very telegraphic for a US consumer, the modern portrayal is much more multifaceted, taking cues from adjacent categories such as fashion and music in terms of how the vibrancy and energy of the city is portrayed.

2. Brit beauty is an attitude

Many homegrown beauty brands are tapping into their unique British character as a means of cutting through, recognizing that British provenance isn’t purely limited to geography—it can also inform a brand’s attitude.

Whether it’s quintessential British wit and whimsy, creative daring, or classic British pragmatism, UK attitude has proven fertile ground for beauty brands.

3. Celebrate British beauty luminaries with compelling founder-led storytelling

Over the years, the UK has produced a veritable roster of beauty powerhouses: from British models and tastemakers who have inspired iconic beauty looks, to talented scientists, hairdressers, and makeup artists who have shaped the beauty agenda on both sides of the Atlantic.

The creative vision, expertise, and entrepreneurial spirit of these British beauty luminaries clearly resonates with US consumers—something to keep in mind when developing your founder story, as a means of defining the role of Britishness and bringing authenticity and personality to your brand.

4. Connect via shared UK/USA values

Although in the UK and the US we speak a common language, it would be naïve to assume that our cultures are also the same. As a result, when translating your brand and communications to appeal to the US market, it’s helpful to start by identifying key values that you and your brand hold in common with US beauty fans. From our experience, there are several ways you can approach this:

  • A shared beauty mindset
  • Collaboration with US talent that embodies your brand ethos
  • A shared belief in the importance of “clean beauty” credentials

5. Cult products can transcend geographies

The UK is home to some truly innovative beauty brands, and yet for some, the role of Britishness in their positioning and communications is more discreet. Rather than lean into provenance, or attitude, or a Brit founder, they choose to let their products do the talking and connect—first and foremost— via a universal consumer need.

Click here to download a copy of the full report and unlock case study examples of the 5 principles in practice, together with exclusive insight from Millie Kendall OBE, CEO of The British Beauty Council.


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