Recently, Beauty Packaging’s Editor-in-Chief, Jamie Matusow, got the opportunity to speak with Ken Downing, Senior Vice President, Fashion Director for Neiman Marcus (NM), about the trends he’s seeing in Color Cosmetics packaging—as well as how he anticipates the future of brick-and-mortar retail.
“We’re seeing two major trends in cosmetics packaging,” says Downing; “in fact, they are polar opposites.” On one hand, he said, there’s a huge trend toward sustainability, an eco-friendly sensibility. On the other, brands are drawing consumers’ attention with packages embellished with holographic images, a frosty or silvery appearance, more space age,” explains Downing.
Another major movement in retail beauty: “Clean products are trending in a big way right now,” said Downing. “People are looking for things that are good. It’s a good moment in beauty—one that will refine itself as time goes on.”
He said the idea of ‘earth-friendly’ is carrying over into hair now, as consumers want products with no pollutants. “There’s a real movement to be friendlier to the earth; to be kind to the earth—and kind to themselves.”
Customers of all ages, said Downing, are interested in healthy products—"they want to know they’re full of healthy ingredients and that they’re having a positive effect on performance.”
A Focus on Niche
The luxury retailer is focusing on many niche brands these days as customers are requesting it. While many of these are smaller independent brands, Downing notes that some legacy brands are following suit with their own “eco” and “clean” stories.
With the customer in the driver’s seat these days, Downing says NM is adapting to what they want—from eco-friendly packaging to clean-beauty to accessible experimentation.
The luxury chain is currently carrying nearly two dozen brands that highlight eco-friendly packaging, including Prunier, Black Chicken, ikoo, Meant, Luxe Botanics, Luk Beautifood, Mahalo Skincare, O'o Hawaii, Ranavat, Seed Phytonutrients (see slideshow),
Kjaer Weis, Aether Beauty, OSEA, Juice Beauty, RMS (see slideshow), Sappho New Paradigm, Pai Skincare, Pistache.
See some of the brands mentioned in the slideshow: ‘Clean’ & Luxe Beauty at Neiman Marcus
No longer can people say that beauty counters look the same as they always have. Major renovations at NM, as well as other leading department stores, now highlight cosmetics in very different and exciting ways.
Downing says NM is no longer using glass counters to contain products—but instead, as a platform for bringing them out onto the top—and sometimes wrapping the counters below with vinyl or artwork as a “stage.”
Now, he says, it’s much easier for customers to access the products. “And beauty advisors are well-educated to talk about all the different features of the products.”
The World of Color
What about the colors of the formulations, themselves? Downing says: “As far as color, it’s very bold for this season, with brilliant blue, peachy, bronzy hues for the summer months.”
In the world of color, he says Tom Ford has led the way in bringing back strong, bold makeup color on the runway and in beauty collections. “NM customers are enthusiastic about all categories from the brand, from lip to fragrance.” Other top-sellers at NM, says Downing, include Chanel, YSL and Chantecaille. Dior, Giorgio Armani, Clé de Peau Beauté also lead NM’s Color Cosmetics brands.
The Future of the Beauty Counter
What does Downing see as far as the future of the beauty counter, and brick & mortar in general? He tells Beauty Packaging: “There’s no denying the importance of online sales, but customers still like beauty advisors and an interactive experience where they can get advice, try samples and experience the products.
He says, “The beauty counter will continue to be an interactive experience as the customers become more comfortable at counters and are able to experience products on their own.”
We can’t wait to see NYC’s new Hudson Yards Neiman Marcus store…
Photos in the Slider Above
(L) Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills remodeled beauty floor includes a new La Mer section
(R) Ken Downing, Senior Vice President, Fashion Director for Neiman Marcus
Best-selling cosmetic brands at Neiman Marcus -- Clé de Peau, Dior, Chantecaille, and Giorgio Armani.
The remodeled beauty floor at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills
Sisley at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills
Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth