Disruptive Concepts Rewriting the Rules in Beauty: Part II

May 2017

Niche labels effectively exploit consumer megatrends to drive innovation and fill gaps missed by legacy brands. Several new entrants embody qualities that target healthy and clean living, and personalised and experiential features. Their force is facilitated by digital tools, such as app-based diagnostics, and social media to voice their story, especially with retailers previously sceptical on their potential. Hi-tech ventures are the new M&A targets for players seeking to renew their portfolio.

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Niche brands have potential to undercut legacy premium labels

Several niche labels compete on functional quality at relatively low price points when compared to premium legacy brands. This may hit a nerve, as consumers realise that product quality does not always justify excessive mark-ups. Essentially, niche brands are using their “honesty” as a weapon.

Personalisation follows multi-SKU customisation

Digital diagnostic solutions and blend-it-yourself products are driving personalisation with the help of an “authoritative voice”. Consumers can better match product choices to their personal needs. Where personalisation is not yet on a brand’s portfolio, focus should be on a product’s “hero” effect to consumers.

The competitive edge from green and clean claims is fading, as they become pervasive

As eco-friendly claims proliferate, they become a given. Brand owners need to go a step further by adopting fully-fledged green and clean labels, such as water-efficient solutions, and packaging conducive to cutting waste, such as refillable options, and dispensing solutions that utilise the pack’s full content.

Health-based beauty solutions take multiple facets, beyond dermocosmetics

Niche brands are driving multi-dimensional remedies in dermocosmetics, with the launch of probiotics-based solutions and a comeback of traditional remedies such as TCM, Ayurveda and Andean herbal mixtures. Brand owners may need to lobby for regulations to protect “honest” solutions from rivals exaggerating their claims. Consumers, while discerning, generally remain unable to make technical distinctions for a fully-informed purchasing decision.

A boom in hi-tech startups piques the interest of beauty players in forging alliances

While acquisitions of high-equity brands facilitate value creation, partnerships with novel start-ups before they even bloom allow the larger partner to pool financial resources and strategic know-how to help the start-up to grow, while reaping the benefits from the onset. The advantages extend to granting the start-up owner the autonomy needed to operate without too much interference.


Key findings

Search for Authenticity: A Focal Point in Niche Beauty

Trend-setting brands set tone for the wider beauty industry
Personalisation a precursor for small-scale brands to extend lines
“Green, clean and sustainable” part and parcel of holistic beauty
Digital engagement connect niche brands directly to consumers
Strength of niche beauty reinforced as niche-only retailing flourishes
Cross-industry niche innovation thrives as focus turns to wellbeing
Niche labels propel the growth of non-conformist Western beauty

Case Study 1: Deciem

Deciem: Focus on customisation with multi-SKU brand empire
Steering brands towards “hero” status delivers value

Case Study 2: LOLI Beauty

LOLI Beauty: All-rounder in “green”, “clean” and sustainable beauty
Green packaging and water efficiency would fortify brand’s ethos
Heighten credibility with strategic alliances, do not go overboard

Case Study 3: Glossier

Glossier: Start-up grows, leveraging beauty enthusiasts’ insights
Glossier’s natural digital inclination facilitates entry in new markets
Glossier’s vertical integration opens up potential for personalisation

CASE Study 4: Beauty Pie

Beauty Pie: You get what you typically pay for…for a lot less
A sustainable price model?

Case Study 5: Mother Dirt

Mother Dirt: Use of probiotics reinforcing unconventional beauty
Pioneers leverage success of probiotics beyond the beauty industry
Mother Dirt faces challenges to stay relevant and sustainable

Case Study 6: Pryaderm

PryaDerm: Traditional preparations infiltrating mainstream beauty
Seek partnerships with a beauty player sharing a similar ethos

Key Takeaways

Niche labels redefining the beauty industry’s new world order
Beauty industry evolution: Three pillars


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