In the beauty industry a lot of media attention is focussed on premium brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, Hourglass and Bobbi Brown. But it is in the mass channel where consumers are spending most of their money – just under 90% of UK volume is spent here, according to Euromonitor.
And it is in this channel where we also see canny product development and clever marketing.
So how are these brands creating success?
Beauty NPD is not always about innovative products and formulations – sometimes, providing a reliable staple can be the key to success. The Lasting Perfection concealer is Collection Cosmetics' most famous product, with one selling every 10 seconds on average. Far from ground-breaking, the concealer won consumers over thanks to its lasting coverage and affordable price point.
Similarly, Sleek's best-selling Cream Contour Kit provided customers with six well-formulated and easily blendable contour and highlight shades. Priced at £10.99, the product was an instant success.
Millions of make-up enthusiasts follow aspirational brands like NARS or MAC to learn about new trends but when it comes to making a purchase they can be price conscious. This creates demand for dupes – affordable products which closely resemble best-selling premium ones. Some make up brands, such as Makeup Revolution became famous for offering dupes of upmarket beauty brands only weeks after the launch of the original product. Last year, it launched a lipstick line with the formulation, colour palette and even packaging that was almost identical to Charlotte Tilbury's K.I.S.S.I.N.G range.
Affordable beauty brands also benefit from a creative approach to NPD. Constantly bringing out new, trend-led items can be an effective way to drive sales volume and improve purchase frequency. KIKO Milano launch themed limited edition collections multiple times a year in order to drive footfall to its stores.
These collections tend to reflect the latest trends in beauty and fashion (pastel-coloured Candy Split collection) or simply time of the year (‘back to school’ and summer collections).
Some brands have succeeded by adopting the rules of fast fashion: following trends closely and ensuring a high speed to market. Winky Lux (seen above), for example, only needs an average of 45 days to take products from ideation to release (compared to about a year for traditional brands). This allowed it to capitalise on temporary fads, such as rainbow eyebrows or matcha-flavoured products. Earlier this year, Winky Lux secured a $6 million investment in Series A funding.
As the affordable beauty industry increasingly resembles fast fashion, the key to success in this market lies in the product. It can be a reliable staple, a dupe or a trendy gimmick but most importantly it needs to appear on the shelves quickly and effectively respond to changing demand.