Groomed for success

2 December 2016

Groomed for success

Groomed for success

With the help of Canadean’s Pack-Track initiative, Packaging Today investigates four of the 2016’s leading trends in beauty and looks at the leading growth opportunities, moving into 2017.

Multistep me

Alphabet creams and multifunctional beauty solutions, combining up to ten – or more – different functions, resonate with modern consumers due to their benefits in simplicity, convenience and value in comparison with their single-function counterparts. Perceptions of efficacy of these multifunctional offerings are low, however, highlighting how the performance of individual functions can be seen as diluted when several are combined into a single product. Consumers are instead beginning to turn to more focused, single-benefit products, believing that specialised items may offer improved efficacy; they are open to expanding their beauty regimes in order to achieve the results they want.

Today's visual culture places a great deal of pressure on consumers to look their best at all times, particularly as image-based social media forms of communication become more present in daily life. Consumers depend on beauty offerings to facilitate this need, meaning efficacy is being prioritised as a key purchasing motivator.

While alphabet creams originated in Asia, their appeal across the world can be attributed to the need for simplified solutions and convenience across consumer lifestyles. Multistep approaches are also receiving interest as Asian beauty innovation grows more influential around the world. It is not uncommon for consumers in Asian markets to use multiple products across each beauty category; in South Korea, for example, skincare regimes can include 10–17 different steps, according to Alicia Yoon, co-founder of Asian online beauty retailer Peach & Lily. In contrast to the demand for convenience, some consumers are now seeking to replicate such complex regimes with multiple products, as the need for simplicity is replaced by greater prioritisation of efficacy and image-based perfection.

Dependence on beauty and grooming products to enhance and improve appearance is high in Asian markets, leading the efficacy-driven approach to beauty in this region. There is also an opportunity to migrate these innovative established regimes to new markets, in which the products are already respected for their effectiveness.

The rise and migration of multifunctional cosmetics products has a number of Implications for beauty brands:

  • Multi-benefit products are still important as parts of expanded regimes, but brands can enhance product efficacy credentials by reducing the number of functions they include – particularly those with over five benefits – to avoid perceptions of ‘efficacy dilution’.
  • Product granularity can be improved with expanded regimes featuring more targeted single-function products that tackle the care and enhancement of specific features.
  • Inspiration should be taken from well-established multistep regimes in Asian markets to deliver new product formats and applications as a key differentiator.
  • Efficacy must be at the heart of product ranges through marketing and positioning to convey an uncompromised approach to results.


 Innovation spotlight: Belif

belif cosmetics

In 2015, Korean skincare brand Belif was launched in the US, stocked by retailer Sephora. The range features products not traditionally used in Western skincare in a complementary routine with up to seven steps that includes essences, gels, and daily masks. The brand ethos and marketing states that efficacy is at the heart of the complex beauty system.

As consumers become more concerned about their appearances, they are searching for products that can deliver effective results irrespective of the number of goods required. Asian beauty innovation is setting the standard around the world, and the multi-step approach is often perceived as highly effective, making this range appealing outside the region.

Multistep approaches will continue to benefit from positive high-efficacy perceptions, particularly as they are closely tied to on-trend Asian regimens. There are opportunities for brands to capitalise on this excitement and inspire ranges with formats and steps common to Asian beauty regimes, which can in turn enhance product authenticity and efficacy.



 Environmental protection


Consumers are increasingly trying to identify and eliminate appearance-related concerns that go beyond factors they can control. One result of this is greater concern regarding environmental factors that may have a negative impact on one’s appearance (such as air pollution or UV light), irrespective of how well consumers control ‘internal’ factors such as diet, smoking or exercise.

UV protection has become well established within the beauty space, seen as an essential function across all categories to prevent sun damage and ageing. This has been encouraged by the rapid growth of alphabet creams, blurring the lines between sun protection and other categories of skincare and beauty. This awareness has paved the way for concern regarding other environmental factors, leading to the growth of products claiming that they can address these concerns. This is particularly important given that the claim of ‘anti-ageing’ properties has become ubiquitous across the beauty space and encapsulates a broadening number of concerns and causes. Consumers are searching for more targeted solutions to various factors contributing to skin ageing, to which environmental damage is often linked.

With global urbanisation and industrialisation comes a growing importance on the impact of the environment on consumer health, which has given rise to more concerns over the impact of polluted environments on one’s appearance. With anti-pollution claims originating in Asia, home to some of the world's most polluted cities, this has also helped enhance the influence of anti-pollution formulations, given the interest in innovation from this region. With global urbanisation showing no signs of abating, pollution-targeted claims have the potential to become as ‘essential’ and commonplace as SPF protection is now.

Pollution can be categorised in two ways. The first is outdoor pollution, which is caused mainly by smoke, gas, and particulates from cars, industrial emissions and heavy metals. The second is indoor pollution, which accounts for emissions within the home environment, from cooking and cleaning, for example. Beauty innovation is currently focused on outdoor pollution, but there are opportunities in the future for crossover between the two. Brands could also use this multifaceted approach to differentiate within SPF coverage, such as by offering infrared protection.

The issues involved with environmental protection offer the following considerations:

  • Accurate anti-pollution claims target urban consumers as novel differentiators and engage them with greater claim specificity. This will be an important part of product positioning and marketing.
  • Product functionality can be enhanced by differentiating between stressor types, such as indoor and outdoor pollution, air pollution, water pollution, weather, and infrared rays rather than SPF in general.
  • ‘Natural’ ingredient formulations, such as botanical actives, can convey that a product is combatting ‘man-made’ and high-chemical aggressors.


Evolving routes to customisation

Today's consumers are highly individualistic and want to ‘have things their way’ in order to reflect their unique needs, personalities and styles. This makes the ability to customise beauty offerings highly appealing, particularly to younger age groups, with this appeal declining with age. While the concept has yet to become mainstream, the constant evolution of consumer needs and technology is creating even more opportunities to engage consumers with customised beauty solutions.

Customisation still represents an emerging approach to beauty, however. This may be attributed to consumers not having the time to engage with a lengthy customisation process, or the fact that customised products are often positioned at higher price points than traditional products. This can particularly deter consumers if the perceived efficacy credentials do not justify the purchase.

In order to overcome these barriers, a focus on efficacy and creativity is essential. One of the most appealing facets of customisation is allowing the consumer to co-create alongside the brand, offering a sense of ownership of the product as well as an emotional attachment to it. Ensuring that the brand embraces consumer creativity and choices is a crucial part of the process. Similarly, providing a multidimensional offering can convey value; in this respect, technological innovation will offer an appealing route to customisation for today's digitised consumer.

In this respect, today's digitally dependent and information-hungry consumers want products that allow them to understand themselves and choose the most effective beauty solutions for the needs they identify with, now and in the long term. While many types of electronic beauty tools are already well-established on the market, it is with the combination of diagnostic tools with a customised solution that opportunity lies for enhancing product credibility and generating consumer excitement.

Innovation around customisation and digital beautycare offers brands several proposals:

  • Within beauty, women and millennials remain key consumer groups to focus on with customised propositions. Ensuring that superior efficacy remains at the heart of the proposition is essential in order to justify premium price points.
  • Brands must harness online platforms to streamline the customisation process and allow consumers to efficiently co-create their products from scratch.
  • New technologies should be developed to cater to digitised consumers, and create new, interactive and integrated solutions. Brands should take advantage of established interest in electronic beauty devices and personal diagnostic tools.
  • Consumer creativity should be embraced by allowing users to design or personalise specific aspects of their products, such as packaging and scent.


Innovation spotlight: MAPO


Currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter, the MAPO "connected" beauty mask allows consumers to understand their skin through a diagnostic skin-moisture-analysis program using a smartphone app. The wearable device also delivers a warming effect to boost the efficacy of skincare products applied to the face. A custom mask is produced for each individual using an image of the user to map their face shape.           

Consumers want to understand their specific skin requirements in order to choose the most effective skincare approach. MAPO offers a technologically validated solution that is also customised to each individual, enhancing product efficacy credentials. This appeal is highlighted in that 39% of consumers do not use digital tools to monitor skin conditions but would consider doing so in the future.

By connecting products to smartphone apps, brands are able to more easily resonate with today's digital consumer.  Credibility is also enhanced by the technological validation and integration combined with a customised ‘made-for-me’ wearable.




Looking naturally flawless and radiant without obvious signs of having used beauty products is of growing importance to today's appearance-focused consumers. This desire is evident in that over half of consumers find the ‘no-make-up’ approach in their beauty regime to be appealing. With ‘natural’ and ‘back-to-basics’ approaches permeating all aspects of consumer lifestyles, from the foods they eat to the beauty formulations they apply, growing interest in a natural appearance is to be expected. Social media is playing an integral part in driving this trend forward, placing increased pressure on consumers through image-based sharing.

Celebrities also play an important role in encouraging the adoption of this approach, as many consumers perceive their consistently ‘perfect’ images, shared by themselves and the general media, as aspirational, setting a beauty standard.

Rather than looking for a quick fix to hide imperfections using make-up and other cosmetic beauty products, many consumers are seeking to improve their overall beauty health by investing more into their care regimes, such as through multistep skincare regimens. By focusing on results from better care, combined with lifestyle changes – such as diets that promote the appearance of health – the need for make-up is reduced.

Many consumers are searching for authenticity in a society that increasingly revolves around enhanced images and pressure to conform to new make-up and beauty trends. The no-make-up approach highlights how some consumers are rejecting mainstream approaches in favour of embracing – and enhancing – their natural appearance.

Companies can take a number of conclusions from these trends:

  • Tinted and sheer offerings that provide subtle coverage and embrace the ‘naturalness’ of appearance will thrive.
  • Brands should explore clinically inspired cosmeceutical ingredients and applications that can ‘cure’ perceived flaws and physically change appearances.
  • ‘Photo-friendly’ offerings can capitalise on the current selfie trend and popularity of image-based social media by illuminating formulations that can enhance natural appearance in photographs.
  • Products should promote beauty health and natural features through beneficial care rather than concealment.


Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.