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Beauty, Branding

Three Ways to Capture the Casual Beauty Consumer

It’s easy to forget, with all the noise about 10-step Korean Skincare routines and contouring, that the majority of women are fair-weather beauty consumers. Beauty subscription box Birchbox’s research found that around 75% of women are what they call ‘beauty casuals’, with the remaining ‘beauty junkies’ typically spending at least four times more on products per year. Research carried by Ipsos for Sally Hansen found that 54% of US women surveyed wore makeup less than twice a week, 17% never wear it at all.

This matches conventional 80/20 marketing wisdom that the top 20% of consumers make up 80% of category spend. So all that beauty social media chatter talking about the millions of beauty SKUS available? A lot of people are simply not joining in.

What Birchbox also discovered, however, was when they focused on attracting and engaging the ‘beauty casual’ consumer with education and special offers, she doubled her beauty product spend in less than a year, trading up to higher priced brands. So ‘beauty casual’ consumers can present a truly lucrative prospect for brands.

But even as a seasoned beauty junkie myself, the amount of choice available can be overwhelming, not to mention the fact that as a busy working mother there’s no time to be pondering an hour-long routine in the morning, I need to look good, fast. So for someone who’s never been into beauty at all, how incredibly daunting it all feels!

Looking at the practicalities of all consumers’ lives – the need to dip into beauty at different points in the day such as last-minute meetings, before the school run or after the gym – it’s clear that products need to be of minimal fuss and of maximum effectiveness. Recent figures from Mintel’s US Ingredients and Format Trends report bears this out: the skincare formats US female skincare users are most likely to have tried or be interested in trying are on-the-go products, such as exfoliating wipes (81%).

So just how can brands make beauty more accessible and user-friendly to those who find the “beauty junkie” approach all a little bit too full-on and want products to work for their busy, complex lifestyles? And which brands are *really* hitting it out the park?


Sam McKnight

1) Multifunctional magic

They say there’s nothing new under the sun in beauty and that’s certainly true when it comes to multipurpose beauty products. Dr Bronner’s Pure-Castile soaps claim 18 cleaning uses: “face, body, hair, food & pets, the dishes, laundry or mop”! But now there’s a new generation of products emerging that actively work to reduce the stages and length of beauty routines, without compromising on efficacy. This is about going beyond multipurpose: not simply cleansing OR moisturising OR colorising, but actively performing multiple functions.

In colour cosmetics, in addition to BB, CC and DD creams with their coverage, perfecting, UV-protecting and even anti-ageing benefits, other products are working harder too. GLAMGLOW’s GlowPowder Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Glow Palette hydrates as it shades, bronzes, highlights and contours. Sally Hansen’s Color Therapy is an intensive nail treatment combined with nail colour and Giorgio Armani’s Eye & Brow Maestro eye lines, shadows and sorts brows.

In skincare, queen of easy glamour, Charlotte Tilbury’s Multi-Miracle Glow is a cleanser, mask & balm that can moisturise, cleanse and revitalise, as well as give gloss to the body and face. Lixir’s Universal Emulsion is a day cream, night cream and priming serum with UV shield and Farsáli’s Unicorn Essence antioxidant serum primer.

In hair, dry shampoos have been reinvented, not only in reducing white residue and catering to more hair colours, they now have styling functionality too. Hair by Sam McKnight’s Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo absorbs excess oil and is a recognised styling product in its own right: volume, texture and even hold. Purelogy’s Colour Fanatic Multi-Tasking Hair Beautifier promises 21 benefits including conditioning, instant detangling, heat protection and breakage reduction.



2) Fabulous formats

Whether it’s the dressing table, bathroom or in someone’s purse or gym bag, no beauty casual consumer (or anyone on-the-go for that matter) wants to have a giant amount of kit – not just literal number of bottles but also applicators and tools. Mintel’s research found that c.30% of female skincare users were prepared to pay more for products with built-in applicators or dual – or more – packaging (containing multiple products). To meet this need, beauty brands must actively look to make products either applicator free or easier and cross-innovation in formats between categories can prove a particularly rich source of inspiration.

Built-in applicators are a mainstay of colour cosmetics but increasingly other categories are starting to incorporate them. Yes To Cotton Anti-Pollution Oxygenated Foaming Cleanser solves the problem by incorporating a built-in cleanser brush that helps to deep clean, exfoliate and massage, as does Tan Luxe Instant Hero Illuminating Skin Perfector with its built-in sponge applicator. VO5 has also recently released a Frizz Free Serum Wand – hair serum in a mascara-type bottle.

Sticks and pencils have been around since forever but today’s generation of products elevate them to the next level. Nudestix has all types of makeup in pencil form, housed neatly in a waterproof, stylish tin. Skincare is now taking up the solid baton, with Milk Makeup at the vanguard, boasting a full skincare routine in stick format – Matcha Cleanser and toner, Watermelon serum and Cooling Water de-puffing eye treatment. And mass is catching up like Olay’s Glow Boost White Charcoal Face Mask stick. Even hair care is getting in on the action like R+Co’s DART pomade stick.

Wipes also prove effective away from facial skincare. New brands like goodwipes and RECESS offer biodegradable, natural on-the-go products for intimate cleansing and OUAI uses them for its portable Anti-Frizz Hair Sheets. They look a rich opportunity for further functional consideration, particularly moisturisation.

Other beauty casual-friendly format innovations include Jo Loves! perfume paintbrush and Trinny London’s interchangeable, stacking face makeup products for finger application. And lastly, miniaturisation in general. Not only does it make the entry point lower for a less confident beauty consumer, they are less likely to sit unused at home. A whole host of brands are now making dedicated full-size miniatures for sale from skincare La Mer and La Prairie through to lipsticks and palettes from MACUrban Decay and Huda Beauty.


Pai Skincare

3) Simple clarity

And finally, and this might be the hardest for legacy beauty brands to take on board: simpler is almost always better. People generally are confused by jargon, by ingredients, overwhelmed by complexity. If I end up staring at INCI lists baffled, a beauty casual consumer will walk away entirely. Mintel’s research backs this up: female skincare users ranked simple usage instructions (58%) and short ingredient lists (53%) as the most important packaging features. If it ever was suitable to have boswellox as a feature on the label, it certainly isn’t now. Sarah Brown of Pai Skincare tells it like it is: “That means listing ingredients in plain English, not using pseudoscience to describe products, generally presenting things as they are, warts and all.” Hear hear.

Sara Jones, partner + client services director

Published in Global Cosmetic Industry