The changing face of beauty

May 27, 2020 |3 min read
face of beauty brands

In the space of a few months, our day-to-day life has changed beyond recognition. For the beauty industry, just like every other industry, it has meant an acceleration of some trends, and the demise of others. In our latest video, we explore these changes and what it means for Beauty brands.

Watch: 2CV Response to Covid-19 Part 8

The changing pace of the pandemic

Already seeing strong growth prior to the pandemic, skincare is perfectly positioned to benefit further from the change of pace the pandemic has created. The 'cleanse, tone, and moisturise' mantra helps to provide structure to the day. Some women are more consciously adapting their skincare routine to alleviate pandemic-induced anxiety via intensive treatments: serums, sheet masks, the return of pore strips... More than a way to pass the time; these additions fulfil a need to look after ourselves in a way we can control. Possibly making up for the fact that our general health feels very much out of control right now.


Rediscovering our natural features

Yet as our social lives shrink to squares on a screen, it's no surprise we're all wearing less makeup; "Zoom does hide a multitude of sins" after all. But this exposes a tension between the internal and external motivations to wear cosmetics. The minority who are continuing to put their face on as "normal" do so to feel good about themselves. For many others, remote working just isn't a meaningful enough occasion to put on makeup for. But this reduction in occasions means we miss feeling beautiful, tidy, and put-together. And we are noticing it!

The disruption to regular routines has spurred women to critically reassess the role we want cosmetics to play in our lives. It has encouraged us to rediscover and become more comfortable with our natural features. Naturality, the 'no-makeup' makeup trend, was in full-force even before the pandemic. And this newest surge towards being 'natural' poses a big challenge - at a time when meaningful cosmetics occasions were already dwindling, can beauty brands drive the creation of new occasions that are relevant to lives post/with Covid-19? While there might be some immediate 'novelty' bounce-back for cosmetics given the hankering after our more polished pre-Covid selves, what is more likely is that this lockdown interlude will accelerate the trend that already existed towards a more natural look.

Women can more easily make the connection between naturality and wellbeing with skincare; now it's the turn of cosmetics brands to speak to womens' emotional need to feel good in themselves and join the dots between make-up and naturality.  This means connecting with consumers in a way that hits the mark, whether that is through product (e.g. hybrid skincare/makeup) or comms that genuinely reflect how we want to see ourselves.


Trial and experimentation

Partly out of necessity, partly out of curiosity, lockdown has encouraged trial and experimentation. Without salons, women are turning to DIY haircuts, hair dye, manicures, and even digging out the eyelash curlers instead of their regular lash lift. But, as the days increasingly blur into one, we're craving novelty and are open to experimentation. Going for a new hair colour is perhaps extreme, but softer forms of experimentation are evident in at-home highlighting products and facials, and the most innovative products can fulfil this need for novelty.

The risk of trial is low after all - is anyone looking that closely right now? The appetite for salon-quality treatments is still there as expertise is hard to replicate at home, but the cost differential could mean opportunities to expand a DIY product offer, especially as women relish learning a new skill in their downtime. And not forgetting the very British penchant for a bargain.

Finally, the lockdown has forced a change in how we shop, accelerating a move towards digital and e-commerce, which has found new audiences and allure in sectors where physical retail has remained the default. In beauty, switching to online has become the main route to trial new products. Women are missing the tactility and spontaneity provided by instore purchase, and the online winners are those who can best replicate the emotional and discovery elements of the instore experience, those that go beyond the transactional experience and plug the experiential gap left by in-store. This means reviews, tutorials, and ways to reduce risk of purchase.

At the same time, getting the fundamentals of online purchase right (search, photos, and fulfilment) are more important than ever - switching retailer is just a new tab away. With physical missions disrupted and more time on their hands, women are open to experimentation. Brands need to fight the fear to press the launch button on NPD and innovation.


Covid-19 forcing us to re-evaluate what we buy

Lots has changed in the last few months, but we're still leaning on beauty and skincare to satisfy fundamental emotional needs of self-confidence and self-care. The pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate what, how, and why we buy. Brands must reflect this new reality or be lost.