From The Editor's Desk

Has the cosmetics industry hit an innovation rut?

By Simon Pitman contact

- Last updated on GMT

Has the cosmetics industry hit an innovation rut?

Related tags: Innovation, microbiome, blue light, Personalisation, Personalization, multi-tasking, Trend, Sustainability

One of the best ways of measuring future industry trends and innovation is a trip to in-cosmetics Global, an event that shines a light on what the next generation of products will look like. But this year, pinpointing something truly new was hard to do.

Every year, after the doors to this event close, the Cosmetics Design editorial team group together to share notes and determine what was hot, and, more to the point, what was really new at the event.

During our meeting this year, the team looked hard at one another, each expecting the other to have hit on a significant trend that had been staring us in the face during the three days of the event in Paris, but we really struggled to come up with something truly new.

Innovation is designed to meet ever-changing consumer demand

The nature of our industry has always been that innovation is extremely fast paced, driven by a consumer desire to try out new products that address specific issues that ultimately enhance the appearance.  

For this reason innovation is and always has been crucial to success in our industry, so forecasting what is the next big trend is essential to staying ahead of the competition with a razor sharp business strategy to tackle what is coming up next.

Last year the defining trend seemed to be microbiome skin care and the year before that blue light was the talk of the town, but, despite still having plenty to talk about, after this year’s show, we could not come up with an overriding trend.

We agreed that issues such as sustainability had only grown in importance and seemed to be making even more of an impact on the sourcing of raw materials, together with the development of ingredients and formulations, than ever before.

Personalization and multi-tasking

Getty Images innovation 2

We also singled out that products targeting personalization and multi-tasking products as longer-term trends that are still making a significant impact, an area that I will discuss in more depth later on in this article.

But whereas there was still an abundance of interesting ingredients and technology launches at the in-cosmetics Global event, almost five months on from there is still little that screams of being a brand new trend that is set to redefine any specific category or aspect of the industry.

But perhaps the reason for all this is the fact that the industry and the product offerings have become so fragmented in recent years.

Industry is facing unprecedented product category fragmentation

In fact, the industry has been pulled in so many different directions, exemplified by the ultra diversification of product categories, that it is simply getting harder and harder to breaks new ground.

About ten years ago, industry analysts were talking about the micro-segmentation of the skin and hair re categories, as more and more products were launched on to the market to target different types of functionality.

Roll the clock forward and that trend has now morphed into personalization , which has continued to provide significant opportunities for both ingredients developers and brands alike, by developing formulations and products that cater to very specific needs.

But whereas a decade ago the term being used was micro-segmentation, the industry seems to have cranked things up to something that can be likened to hyper-segmentation.

It is getting harder to pinpoint distinct trends

And maybe this is the very reason why it has become increasingly difficult to pinpoint current industry trends, because personalization has bombarded us with so much that is novel it makes it almost impossible to determine which, of thousands of innovations, is actually making a real impact.

Clearly the innovation has never stopped. In fact the pipeline of new products with incredible and unique claims continues to grow exponentially, but is personalization about to morph into something else again, providing a new twist for innovation?

The multi-tasking trend that I mentioned earlier in the article could be the next step in cosmetic and personal care innovation. Multi-tasking in some ways repackages the multiple individualized personalized products that are cluttering up people’s bathrooms, by developing one product that tackles a long list of hair or skin care issues, while saving time, money and adding convenience.

This latest twist underlines the fact that, having been wooed by products with high levels of innovation, no consumer wants to give up all that choice, which means R&D teams are going to be kept on their toes and the innovation pipeline will continue to buzz. 

But, as a kind of disclaimer, all of this means that forecasters and industry analysts will be challenged in determining more specific trends. 

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