6 Indie Beauty Brands To Watch (& Learn From)
- Mar 01 2018
- Marketing & Advertising
Millennials & Gen Z are buying into beauty in droves, and these six brands are ones to watch as social media catapults them to cult status…
Buzz about new beauty trends moves fast online and on social, where products, looks, and brands can trend quickly. Beauty knows their ad-skipping audience, and leverages Instagrammability and the Influencer Effect to boost their brands. Last year, Ulta Beauty saw sales surge to $5.9 billion from $3.9 billion two years ago, while Sephora’s revenue doubled between 2011 and 2017, according to the Financial Post. Social media has also propelled upstarts and indie brands, who can appeal to young consumers with a well-curated Instagram: Kylie Cosmetics raked in $420 million in 18 months, mostly via organic marketing courtesy of founder Kylie Jenner, while sales of cult favorites like Glossier and Colourpop are up 43%, according to the NPD Group.
This focus on beauty and skincare doesn’t seem to be on its way out anytime soon. In fact, buying makeup is on the list of things that Millennials are actually doing more than Boomers, and when many Gen Z and Millennial women “splurge,” they opt for fashion, beauty, and accessories over entertainment or wellness, according to Adweek. Of course, wellness and self-care play a role in young consumers’ growing skin care obsession—which they were quick to defend when The Outline sent shockwaves through the beauty industry by calling skin care “a scam” in their article: “The Skincare Con.” The social media response was swift as skincare diehards took to Twitter to defend their beloved routines.
In the midst of this booming interest, the following six up-and-coming brands are tapping into young consumers’ beauty obsession (and several other unexpected trends) to turn heads across the industry:
One beauty brand is speaking loud and proud to the Genreless Generation, offering an inclusive line for “people of all gender expressions and identities.” Teen Vogue, Bustle, and more have applauded Fluide’s resonant message that makeup is not just for white cis females. Following Fenty Beauty’s viral success for offering a line of foundations for all skin colors, more brands are making sure that they cater to young consumers’ demand for inclusive products, too. Fluide is also getting it right on the marketing front, showing a wide variety of models repping their products. Not to mention that part of the sale of each product goes to the LGBTQ organizations, Callen Lorde and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project—adding that element of corporate social responsibility that Millennials & Gen Z are coming to expect from their favorite brands.
LOLI is taking personalization to the next level, offering mix-your-own “lotions and potions.” The line of everything from oils to infusions is all-natural and organic, a big “yes” for young consumers. Admittedly, LOLI is one of many companies cropping up to cater to Customization Nation and blend unique products for each customer. While Glossy questioned whether the trend can scale, they concluded that brands offering semi-personalized products which mix up bases rather than starting from scratch could carve out a lucrative niche in the crowded market. LOLI does just that according to HelloGiggles, offering base options and mix-ins to create personalized skin care lines at a profitable speed. This company’s probability for breaking onto the scene in a big way is also bolstered by their founder, Tina Hedges—a former big-brand exec for the likes of L’Oreal and Estée Lauder.
The athleisure obsession may have felt like a fashion-only trend, but active makeup and other workout-centric face and body products show that it’s branching into beauty. WWD said SweatWELLth is “where Gatorade meets skin care,” perhaps because their lip balm earned hype for having electrolytes—according to PopSugar. The brand’s other products include a facial mist, a “No Sweat” hydrating spray (yes, it makes you sweat less), and more. The founder of the brand told WWD, “Everyone is striving to have good health and wellness…Along with the athleisure craze, it made sense to bring out products that speak to active lifestyles.” And SweatWELLth isn’t the only brand tapping into Millennials & Gen Z’s passion for health and fitness: Other indie brands like Sweat Cosmetics and big brands like Clinique and Birchbox are selling everything from blotting papers to sweat-proof foundation.
Beauty Pie is putting a new spin on makeup and skincare subscription services, offering deep discounts on top products for a monthly fee. Racked explains that this “beauty club” charges $10 each month, but in exchange, customers can buy products “at cost”—like mascara for under $3 or an originally $32 cleanser for less than $6. Members are limited to spending $100 each month, but true beauty aficionados can upgrade to more expensive monthly options and higher price caps. Founder Marcia Kilgore is also the brain behind Bliss (which just came out with a game-changing line for spa products), Soap and Glory, and FitFlop. Despite her past ventures’ successes, she’s calling Beauty Pie her “best idea yet,” according to Vanity Fair. Kilgore sees the brand as “a luxury kind of beauty Costco” that will “democratize access to the best beauty products in the world.”
First, a caveat: The Ordinary’s parent brand Deciem is in the midst of a social media storm brought on by the company’s founder. Brandon Truaxe has taken over Deciem’s social media, airing his (and the company’s) dirty laundry—to customers’ and staffers’ dismay. Regardless, if The Ordinary survives the mayhem, they’ll be a major player in the skincare game. Known as the “Everlane of skincare,” The Ordinary was on fire (in a good way) out of the gate. Launched in late 2016, the brand’s first small line sold out immediately, and a 75,000-person waitlist racked up fast. Since then, the brand has expanded its initial offerings for young consumers, who are attracted to the high quality and low price point, backed by a clinical, brandless strategy à la Less is More. The once online-only products can be found in Sephora, and Deciem is going on a store-opening spree, according to The Cut.
Like Glossier and The Ordinary, Commodity has all the makings of a hot beauty brand: a minimalist aesthetic, gender-neutral products, an on-point Instagram game, and an influencer-heavy marketing strategy. Which is why Commodity is a hot beauty brand: The company’s fragrances and candles have seen massive success with Sephora devotees and their online sales have boomed. The key to their success? The company’s CEO told Fashionista that from the beginning, Commodity “wasn’t really a fragrance business; it was meant to be an online platform for selling fragrance…We decided to create a lifestyle brand around our own sensibilities, and that’s what we got to work doing.”
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