Beauty has always played an important role in human behavior. The concern for a good image has always prevailed as a constant. Different cultures throughout the ages have focused on the need, mainly for women, to reach the standards associated with each moment.

But beauty is, of course, cultural. And we are moving towards a culture of beauty that embraces dimensions not accepted to date. A conceptualization in which everyone is welcome. accommodating all genders, races and conditions (people of color, obese, vitiligo, bald, gray or wrinkled…)

Beauty is a big business worth billions, but it’s also an area of growing social interest. With an ever-expanding range of products and also specialized medical services, the beauty, aesthetics and diet industries have become the subject of great concern both for the environmental impact of the chemical industry in the manufacture of products and for the safety of people when receiving treatments.

Like many other industries, beauty brands are diving into activism today, but they must not forget that it is not about marketing and they are obliged to show honesty and responsibility if they really want to secure their future.

Although, in general, the activism of beauty brands has been more through charitable donations than political statements, some like The Body Shop pioneered the fight against animal testing 10 years ago. The difference right now is that many of the new cosmetics brands have made hyper-visibility and radical transparency a core part of their strategy. But it doesn’t work to move into activism only when it’s beneficial to the brand.

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If we talk about sustainable beauty, then the brand, its meaning, its purpose, its values and its behaviors are the main protagonists. And the reason is none other than conscious consumerism that continues to grow in all sectors and in particular within the world of beauty, with consumers valuing purpose-oriented and sustainability-oriented brands.

A survey by Harper’s BAZAAR UK noted that more than 60% of people are willing to spend on brands that offer natural products, while 55% showed interest in eco-conscious brands. Another report, in this case from Marketing Chart, shows that 37% of consumers look for products with environmentally friendly packaging, while 29% buy those brands that promote sustainable practices.

In today’s world, environmental issues are at the forefront of the media, so it stands to reason that consumers become more eco-conscious and favor brands that share their values.

But for brands, talking about sustainability goals isn’t enough. They need to highlight their efforts and take tangible action. Customers are looking for acts, not ads. For example, L’Oreal, Olay, Estee Lauder and L’Occitanhave pioneered this by introducing bags, capsules and refillable products in all their brands. But steering large companies towards sustainability is not easy, so new brands, more agile by nature, have an opportunity to make a difference and make a breakthrough.

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On the other hand, a concept of beauty emerges that moves from perfection to acceptance. Diversity and inclusion, increasingly present in networks and campaigns, are a necessity for those brands that understand that their business is no longer about aesthetics and are closer to personal fulfillment. Dove understood this perfectly, as early as 2004, when it launched its “Real Beauty” campaign, which celebrated diverse bodies and reached $2.5 billion in sales. And the figure has not stopped growing, almost doubling in 2020.

Let’s also think that Generation Z has already broken the gender barrier; They perceive it more fluidly than previous generations. According to a recent study by The Innovation Group, 56% of Gen Z say they ignore product labels based on gender.

Some brands like Maybelline are turning to male experts to help normalize men’s use of makeup, a new customer acquisition platform for Western beauty brands.

Inclusive communication is 25% more memorable for customers, so brands that stand for a more real and authentic front are set to continue to grow. But, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not about communication, it’s about culture. Including diversity in the companies themselves will help steer the brand toward greater authenticity.

Beauty brands are facing new challenges in this post-pandemic world, such as disrupted supply chains, uncertainty of customer bases, and declining in-store purchases. If they want to survive, they can’t forget the most basic thing: putting customers at the center. Only if they are able to understand their motivations and needs will they be able to remain relevant and chosen.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward