The COVID-19 pandemic was coined a ‘black swan’ event back in April 2020 by an expert consultant who said the crisis would shape consumer trends for the next decade. More than one year on, industry was certainly feeling the effects of last year’s sudden and global shift, with many responding through smart product developments and retail offerings.
But Melanie Welsh, co-founder of UK-based business strategy agency Strat House, said more money and time now had to be invested in consumer-first beauty innovation.
“It’s going to be about holding your nerve and the belief that if you make something that is more precisely focused around consumer needs, that will pay dividends in the long-run,” Welsh told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
When beauty became digital ‘overnight’
When COVID-19 first took hold, beauty and many other industries were propelled into a business model that “became entirely digital overnight”, Welsh said.
“I think the beauty industry coped remarkably well. It proved itself to be resilient, incredibly innovative and consumer focused. Businesses tackled things with astonishing energy.”
On top of this digital shift, Welsh said COVID-19 had also accelerated a shift in how consumers thought about and interacted with beauty products. Consumers started to relish the joy of beauty, focusing on the routine and process of using products rather than just the result, she said, and this, along with the digital transition, offered plentiful opportunity for beauty innovation moving forward.
E-commerce still ‘massively undersaturated’
On the digital side, Welsh said: “The majority of people agree that there’s still a lot to do in terms of that shift to digital for beauty brands. E-commerce is still massively undersaturated.”
Beauty businesses had to re-learn how to “work that consumer journey” – a journey that looked very different to pre-COVID, she said. “It’s not going to be enough to focus on the beginning of the funnel anymore.”
But, she said the transition to digital didn’t just impact marketing; it fundamentally changed the way beauty brands and manufacturers had to think about innovation.
“…Everything has shifted to digital and the impact on product development is quite profound when you think it through …….