Changing buyer behaviour is (inevitably) changing the beauty categories.

Lexicon of Beauty 2015-2025

June 2015

Beauty classifications re-organised to suit buyers' needs.

New beauty lexicon reflects the function of beauty.

Crucial beauty regimes missed because they do not slot into any industry category.

Consumers are drawing maps of the world of beauty. This development is changing how people buy and is impacting on the entire beauty supply chain – from formulator to retailer to to consumer. This new map better reflects how hair and skincare consumers look at the world. They are interested in the function - not the traditional categories - of hair and skin care products.

The change is taking place because the beauty industry and consumers are out of sync. Consumers conceptualise beauty in terms of their needs. They always focus on the outcome, for example, to achieve a “younger” or a “fairer” skin and clean and/or manageable hair. The universal starting point for everyone is “me” and “my problem”.

This is quite a different lens to that used by the cosmetic chemists in the research laboratory or their colleagues in brand or category management. Beauty consumers are far less concerned with the “wrapping” – the category classification, the technology, the channel, the segment.

Dissatisfaction with the usefulness of traditional product categories goes back a long time. Our research archives show that even in the late 1990s consumers in the USA and Europe were increasingly focused on the function of hair and skincare products. That could not have developed into a popular movement without the internet and social media which facilitated and accelerated this trend globally.

Today, many millions of beauty buyers around the world are talking to each other using a different language or lexicon. This classification is outside the control of the industry which still conceptualises in terms of legacy categories. A different buying journey has begun. An enormous market is at stake. We are talking about the needs of the billions of consumers – whether new consumers in emerging markets or changing beauty needs (by gender or age) in mature markets.

The rewards for matching needs with products are great. A historical sweep of our research reports shows a consistent trend: companies successfully enter the market by focusing on buyers' problems. These small (but agile) players now account in aggregate for a significant share of sales. Crucially, many minnows are strategically positioned for future market expansion.

The common market entry point is the uncommercialised and unbranded products / regimes which exist in the consumer- but not the industry - lexicon. Massage is the most striking example. It revolutionised skincare and represents a new mass treatment category - still largely unconsolidated. But massage was ignored and cold-shouldered for years because of the widespread (industry) observance of the square pegs and round holes rule.

This new beauty taxonomy may seem a tad complicated because it is a bottom -up exercise. But for many years we have been compiling intelligence on consumers' beauty regimes and practices worldwide which did not otherwise fit in.

The new lexicon of beauty is fully developed in our Global Skincare: Consumer Behaviour/Regimes and Market Report 2015. Contact for details

A 35 minute webinar which makes this lexicon accessible by explaining different beauty needs, cultures and regimes is available. Contact for details.