Beauty Switches to Wellness from the Cosmetic

The cosmetic is losing its monopoly of the beauty market.

Beauty buyers worldwide express an increased wellness consciousness.

Wellness discourse reveals what beauty consumers really want.



July 2015

Wellness has become a synonym of beauty. As we have previously explained , consumers believe that skin appearance can be dramatically improved by reducing stress or increasing energy. The cosmetic is no longer THE reference point.

Beauty buyers have enthusiastically embraced wellness. Wellness is the prism through which people now understand beauty. This can be seen in the appropriation of wellness terms by the beauty discourse. Words such as 'energy', 'de-stressing' resonate with buyers. They get it.

So frequently is the word beauty omitted from these discussions, that it is has become conspicuous by its absence. Beauty, especially skincare, can now be discussed, delivered and bought without the actual B word itself ever being mentioned. There is no contradiction or confusion in the minds of buyers who believe that wellness delivers beautiful (e.g., clearer, younger looking) skin as, or more, effectively than many cosmetic products.

Wellness as beauty is a bottom up development which is, and has been, 100% driven by changes in buyer behaviour and regimes. Up till relatively recently, it was the regime of certain consumer segments in the most developed markets which defined beauty. But now beauty experts in Europe, the USA and beyond report that consumers take a very holistic approach to beauty. Beauty regimes can now be defined by wellness rather than the narrowly cosmetic.

Wellness as beauty was pioneered by innovative beauty spas/ salons in cities like London, New York and Los Angeles which were in tune with changing consumer needs. The online and social media democratised this trend, popularising the wellness discourse with beauty buyers around the globe. Our research shows that consumers in less developed (Africa and Asia) markets are as likely to look to wellness as cosmetic for their beauty needs. These millions of new consumers, who are critical to the future of the beauty industry, come with different skin and haircare traditions and rituals. A striking example is China, one of the largest skincare markets, where acupuncture - which epitomises wellness - is widely used for beauty.

We can see that buyers are voting with their feet and it is up to companies to adapt their products to meet the demands of beauty as wellness. Our research shows that it has been 'new' entrants, which redefined beauty as wellness, that have benefited. The legacy companies, which were so heavily invested in the cosmetic concept that they owned, have been much slower to appreciate the implications of, and react to, changes in consumer behaviour.

Diagonal Reports has been researching consumer demand for wellness as beauty globally and tracking buyer behaviour since first identifying this trend.
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