According to the panel of experts, one thing is clear: the pandemic has only intensified the importance of innovation.
“The finding that innovation has become more important than ever during a time when new product launches virtually stopped is an interesting & important insight,” said Nora Hamelin, founding partner, The Beauty Makers and TBM Brand Lab. “It reinforces that the cosmetics industry is resilient, dynamic and ever-evolving, which is really encouraging as industry professionals come together in support of post-pandemic rebound & growth.”
Experts included in the conversation included, Ambra Orini & Nora Hamelin, founding partners, The Beauty Makers & TBM Brand Lab; Aurélie Cailleton, brand manager, Goldwell; Tamara Soengas, brand manager, John Frieda; Esteban Vidal, CEO & owner, Sabon Spain; and Vera Mainer, CEO, Casmara Cosmetics.
Rapid, Radical Changes
Covid-19 caused an almost immediate shift in cosmetics business models. Rapid changes in consumer buying behavior affected “development plans for new products, marketing strategies and even the structures & business models of companies,” according to Casmara’s Mainer. Companies have needed to “adapt quickly to the new consumer and to new trends, which have been emerging rapidly and dynamically since then.”
Goldwell’s Cailleton agreed: “Last year we faced unprecedented changes. And I must say that I admire the ability of professionals in the hairdressing sector to face challenges, adapt and continue with even more motivation, if possible, to learn and grow,” she said.
At John Frieda, Soengas explained that “launches have been adapted. We’ve tried adapting messaging to fit the current situation. We have also needed to find new ways to reach the consumer to make up for the absence of visits to point of sale,” she said. “Innovation has been vital to adapt quickly to these new consumer needs.”
“Overnight, the consumer has changed their way of buying, their tastes, their habits and their preferences,” said Mainer. “Thus, now the new product innovation process must be much faster. Knowing how to listen to the consumer and being able to respond quickly to their new needs is what has made the difference.”
Exactly What They Need, When They Need It
“A new, unprecedented slogan has emerged from the pandemic that touches cosmetic companies everywhere, which we carry with us day-to-day: ‘offer the new consumer exactly what they need, when they need it’,” said Mainer. This new philosophy forces companies to be even more demanding and innovative to effectively address the post-pandemic consumer, she said.
New Emerging Problems
“In a very short time, new skin-related problems have arisen due to the pandemic situation and new daily habits—such as the use of the mask, greater focus on hygiene, increased stress, or sedentary lifestyles,” said Mainer. This changing dynamic has “marked new concerns and new trends that companies need to know how address for a consumer now much more informed, more demanding and, above all, more aware of the environment and sustainability,” she said.
“The pandemic has accentuated the importance of product innovation because it has accelerated the digital consumption of consumers, who are increasingly better informed about news and trends,” said Sabon’s Vidal. “Companies have to adapt very quickly in order to remain competitive. Before the pandemic, innovation was already a key factor to stay in the market. Now it is even more so.”
Soengas continued, “The consumer has had more time and resources to seek more information about products, especially cosmetics, which helps them to be more discerning at the time of purchase. This is where brands have had the great challenge to learn how to approach them and provide them with all the information in the forums they frequent.”
Cailleton emphasized that Goldwell’s “motto #CreativityNeverStops perfectly illustrates that a passion for hair and creativity are our driving force, no matter what.
“The key lies in never stopping, continuing to create, innovate and adapt our ways of communicating,” she said. “We have managed to evolve together towards a more digital world in all areas and over time it will end up consolidating.”
Adapting and Learning
“Over the past 12-16 months, we have seen an industry both adaptive and enduring, doing what beauty does best: innovate to meet the consumer’s changing needs while driving emotional connection,” said The Beauty Makers’ Orini. “These learnings ensure cosmetics brands have the awareness and agility necessary to successfully serve the post-pandemic consumer.”