How beauty companies are embracing diversity

I. The era when diversity is appreciated

  • Consumer pool has always been diverse, but it has not been long since cosmetics companies started to accept these differences and reflect them into actual products.
  • American cosmetics brand Covergirl appointed James Charles as its brand ambassador in 2016, and this was the first male model for the brand. Covergirl also named May Musk (age 69) in 2017 as the brand model and showed that consumers of cosmetics products are not limited to certain age groups.
  • Contrary to the past when ‘respect for diversity’ was a praiseworthy act, now it became a crucial standard of evaluating a brand

II. Diversity of color

1. The evolution in the number of Estee Lauder foundation shades

  • In 1997 Estee Lauder launched DoubleWear Foundation, with about 10 shades to choose from
  • Foundation shades expanded to 20 in 2007, 24 in 2008, 36 in 2016, 38 in 2017, 54 in 2018, and to 61 in 2019. The expansion evolved over time to cover yellow undertones (Asian) and deep undertones (black).
  • Estee Lauder foundation still remains one of the most loved products by consumers to this day, and Chinese locals are not an exception.

Figure1. Sales trend of Estee Lauder & Top 5 brands in base makeup category

Source: MeasureCommerce | MeasureChina
  • Consumers often comment about shades in their review: ‘It’s worth the investment because of diverse shades (purchased 1C1)’ / ‘I have used 2W0, but this one looks more natural on my skin (purchased 2W1)’ / ‘You can achieve the best result by mixing with another shade (purchased 1N1)’.

  2. Fenty beauty: “Makeup for ALL”

  • American singer Rihanna launched her own cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty in 2017 with 40 shades in Pro filt’r foundation.
  • The brand especially focused on dark skin tones, which were hard to find from other conventional beauty brands, thus creating a foundation for “ALL”.
  • Foundation of Fenty beauty has gained overwhelming support from people whose skin color is as dark as black.
  • Fenty beauty products are also popular in China. The average monthly sales this year is 6.7 million yuan.

Figure2. Sales trend of Fenty beauty

Source: MeasureCommerce | MeasureChina
  • In addition to the foundation, Fenty beauty is well known for shading and highlighters among local consumers. Fenty beauty has introduced a variety of colors for various races in shading products as well. Some Chinese consumers have written in their product reviews that certain colors fit Asian skin very well.

III. Diversity of gender and ‘gender neutrality’

  • While in the past most people thought women were the only consumers of makeup, men’s beauty category is on the rise these days. The category shows an upward trend, with some seasonal fluctuations depending on month. It is not hard to find products that are solely targeted on men.
  • Some existing brands try to show that women are not the only consumers. For example, it is difficult to tell at a glance whether the official model of Perfect diary’s foundation is female or male.
  • Meanwhile, there are brands that sets men as their main model from the release of a product. Korean brand Giverny chose Jihoon Ju as the main model even though the main consumer are women.
  • Today, leading brands in the industry are working hard to cover a broader and more diverse range of consumers. The products that can appeal to wider range of consumers will play a key role in improving brand image and the actual numbers.
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