Launched in 2014, Lottie London offered a range of affordable and accessible high street cosmetics, including sparkly lip glosses, liquid stamp liners and freckle tint. Available across a range of online platforms and stores, including its own D2C site, Lookfantastic, ASOS, Target, Ulta and Virgin Megastores, Lottie London was designed to plug emerging beauty trends and target digital millennials and, more specifically, Gen Z consumers – those currently aged 9-24.
The brand most recently teamed up with My Little Pony in the build up to the 2021 film launch in September.
“We were seeing this huge white space of being able to react to trends blowing up on social media,” Charlotte Knight, founder of Lottie London, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
“…Trends are ever-changing, and the Gen Z consumer doesn’t want to have to wait a year or more for product. They see something and they want to be able to access it as fast as possible,” Knight said.
Lottie London was established, she said, to plug trends fast with tools and accessories this Gen Z consumer demographic was looking for. “Being super nimble and agile in developing the products and bringing it to our online stores or retail shelves at super-lightning speed – that’s always been one of our points of difference and core competencies, working with our suppliers and developing products in record time,” she said.
Wing stamps and freckle pens – ‘instant gratification’ for Gen Z consumers
And Gen Z beauty needs today were increasingly expansive and diverse, Knight said. “This Gen Z consumer rocks so many different styles in one week, even one weekend. She’s changing her hair colour more times in a month than you could think possible. And they are super creative – he or she – they are all about individuality. So, it’s about providing product that’s going to enable them to express their individuality.”
And this expression, she said, happened largely online across social media channels, so Lottie London products had to inspire and engage. “We want to be front and foremost in their mind when they are thinking about their style, creativity and content.”
Many Lottie London products offered “instant gratification”, like the wing stamp liner for an instant hack to perfect liquid eyeliner flicks or the freckle pen to achieve natural-looking freckles without sun exposure, she said. “…These instant products are content gold, but they also solve a problem at the same time.”
And Knight said Lottie London’s creative team spent considerable time thinking about how to design products that enabled instant looks or solved a long-standing cosmetic problem.
But working with such speedy turnarounds and tapping into new and fast-evolving trends was not without its challenges, she said. “With the rise of social media, trends and fads come and go. And as trends erupt, getting someone’s concentration or focus on a certain thing is much more challenging. [The Gen Z consumer] is like a little magpie that moves from shiny penny to shiny penny, so we have to balance uber-trend products that we know are going to be a flash in the pan and going to be hot for a month and then not with innovative products that are hero SKUs that will be every-green.”
Operating a diversified business model across brands, retail, categories and territories – Lottie London was part of Knight’s portfolio of beauty brands including Ciaté London and Skin Proud –helped this, she said.
Lottie London’s geographical stretch was particularly key, she said, because a product trending in the UK or US would likely then trend in Russia afterwards. Currently, the brand had a wide-ranging presence in various global markets, but Knight said over the next three to five years, focus would be on deepening presence in the US and Canada.
Beauty transparency – inclusivity and sustainability key to Gen Z
Beyond tapping into the latest trends and beauty movements, Knight said every single Lottie London product also had to be “radically inclusive” and sustainable.
Gen Z consumers today, she said, were progressive and more ethnically diverse than previous generations, so concealers, foundations and setting powders had to offer a broad spectrum of shades. Products also had to be made and marketed sustainably, she said.
“This demographic cares about the planet and wants to make a difference with the planet more than any other demographic has in generations past. And they will be the generation that affects, probably, the biggest amount of change because they have to as well.”
Ethical sourcing, sustainable packaging and cruelty-free production were all critically important beauty standards for Gen Z consumers, she said, though matching some of these was tough given the expenses associated with more sustainable packaging materials.
“The challenges ahead right now for beauty, whether its Gen Z or any type of beauty, is the sustainability aspect. A lot of the suppliers of packaging hadn’t moved at the same kind of pace as the demand, and the consumer demand far outweighs where the suppliers are. So, there hasn’t been sufficient time for them to really be able to get costings at the right level,” she said.
Whilst this would likely shift over time, the short- to mid-term sustainability cost challenges continued, she said, though many beauty brands had made “huge strides” in terms of sustainability and would continue to do so. For Lottie London, for example, where it wasn’t possible to use sustainable alternatives like bamboo or corn starch materials, Knight said the brand worked hard to encourage and enable upcycling.
“It’s just going to become table stakes for any brand that they are sustainable,” Knight said.