Beauty without the beast


Vegan beauty is now well-and-truly entrenched in mainstream channels, with larger brands and retailers recognising the importance of this trend.

Vegan cosmetic product launches increased by 175% from July 2013 to June 2018 according to Mintel.

Staple skincare ingredients, such as glycerine, collagen, gelatine and retinol are all traditionally derived from livestock – or their by-products, in the case of honey and beeswax. As with innovations such as Beyond Meat's bleeding plant burger, cosmetic manufacturers are also looking for plant-based alternatives.

Primark unveiled a vegan cosmetic line this summer and brands such as Elemis, Kat Von D Beauty, Charlotte Tilbury and Millie Bobby Brown (seen above) have all launched vegan beauty ranges.

We have unpicked three of the main drivers of success for vegan beauty brands:

Understand the consumer
The fundamental appeal of vegan beauty lies in the fact that vegan products support a lifestyle based on wider ethical values that appeals to millennials and Gen Z consumers in particular. Success lies in ensuring products match these values. We are seeing evidence of growth across product categories from a whole spectrum of brands; from start-up Nailberry’s vegan nail polish to My Clarins sub-brand range of skincare.

Marketing strategies must also illustrate an understanding of this consumer; effective use of social media is imperative for a digitally native target audience and brands should focus on marketing that draws out an authentic brand story – such as Unilever-owned brand Hourglass’s ‘Eye to Eye’ campaign, designed to show humanity in the eyes of the animal.

Clear communication
Vegan, organic, natural clean, cruelty-free, carbon neutral are all terms used in this sector, with no laws controlling the use of terms. This can lead to `greenwashing', where brands use trending terminology to draw in consumers. In this crowded and confusing market, focusing on clear communication is key. The new Harrods Beauty Hall has a dedicated space for vegan beauty and Boots is using editorials to educate consumers on vegan brands. Official certifications such as the Certified Vegan logo and explanations of ingredient lists at the point of merchandising can also guide consumers thorough confusion encouraging trial and loyalty.

Consistent packaging
It is vital that packaging reflects the holistic ethical approach that consumers are demanding by considering animal welfare and the environment that animals live in. Retailer Lush exemplifies best practice in this area with their `naked' stores in Manchester, Milan and Berlin and their new vegan cosmetic line that has no plastic packaging.

We believe the future of beauty will have a distinctly vegan flavour. Brands, retailers and landlords that can develop exciting new products and environments with strong and consistent communications, branding and packaging, will be the ones who benefit.

Jessica Williams