3 paths to beauty innovation

September 5, 2018
4 min read

The global beauty industry is changing rapidly with beauty innovation now expanding into different areas and breaking new ground. At this year’s Cosmo Tech Expo in New Delhi, India, Mintel took a look at the different paths to innovation in the beauty industry, uncovering the key trends and opportunities for brands to stay ahead of the competition and to remain relevant in the area of product innovation and new product development.

Here, we discuss three classifications of innovation and how beauty is playing out in these different areas:

  • Category Creators: Defining new categories or segments with blurring
  • Category Changer: Changing or disrupting the norms with format changes
  • Category Sustainers: Sustaining or growing the category with limited edition buzz

Category Creators: Blurring

Category blurring has been happening in the past couple of years and is something that will continue in the years beyond. Manufacturers are assessing their portfolio range and looking at how to blur the lines between products, and in some cases, create new products altogether in new blurred categories. This aligns with Mintel Trend ‘Extend My Brand’ which highlights how brands are expanding into new categories and demographics to find new business as well as intrigue consumers.

An example of this is the Beauty Blend Superfood Smoothie launched by Juice Generation in the US in 2017. A range that can be drunk as well as used as a face mask, these superfood smoothies are delivered in a recyclable box, housing the frozen portions of ingredients which can be mixed in a blender with water or juice. This is potentially a concept that could work in India as well as three in five urban Indian women prefer to use natural or organic beauty products, according to Mintel research.

Category Changers: Format Changes

Disruption for some beauty categories can be the introduction of different formats. A format change can reinvent a category and provide new usage occasions.

For instance, US-based indie skincare brand Smoothie Beauty launched a series of face masks which came packed in pouches with transparent windows on front-of-pack to promote its use of fresh ingredients. This unique format gives consumers two-to-three uses, requiring them to keep the masks refrigerated and consume them within a set number of days. Smoothie Beauty capitalised on product format to gain traction among consumers looking for natural and fresh skincare products.

Another example of this trend includes R+Co’s dry shampoo, an innovative powder-based, non-aerosol format which includes a mess-free and convenient pump spray applicator—ideal for consumers on-the-go.



Smoothie Beauty Face Masks


R+Co Dry Shampoo


Category Sustainers: Limited Edition Buzz

Across Asia Pacific, the limited edition buzz of certain products has really hit home with consumers, particularly young Millennials who crave to be in-the-know of the coolest new products and experiences.

As seen in Mintel Trend ‘In the Know’, limited access, mystery and secret locations and products garner exclusivity, turning consumerism into a game. Being able to leverage this effectively is key to winning with consumers.

In Japan, for example, Integrate, a mass positioned makeup brand from Shiseido group, introduced a limited makeup range that retailed in Lawson. Exclusive to the convenience store chain, all products are small in size and sold at the affordable price of just US$5, providing a reliable, convenient option for consumers who want speedy, easy-to-use makeup. The limited range leveraged the strong brand image of Shiseido and wide coverage of Lawson’s network and consumer base.

What we think

Beauty is rapidly changing and brands need to stay ahead to remain relevant. Innovation in beauty is now broadening, with the lines between categories blurring as consumers are taking a more holistic approach to health and beauty. Niche consumer segments are becoming increasingly important with lifestyle changes, cultural shifts and value systems, shaping purchase decisions more than ever before. What’s important is that beauty brands remember not to underestimate the familiar, that simplicity remains key, and consumers should always be placed first.

Jane Barnett
Jane Barnett

Jane Barnett is Head of Insights for South APAC at Mintel. She is responsible for the delivery of key insights to clients in both a servicing and consultative manner.

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