Apr 26 2018
This past weekend, tens of thousands descended onto New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for an event that was once described as “Coachella meets Sephora” and a “YouTube-fueled, teenage extravaganza.” Both a festival and experiential retail experience that takes place in cities across the world, Beautycon is becoming a well-known powerhouse in its industry for its ability to bring together a gathering of brands, content-creators, and young beauty-enthusiasts in celebration of all things beauty. Tickets, which more often than not sell out before the event even begins, range from $59.99 for general admission to $1999.99 for a Beauty Insider pass (two night stay at a Manhattan hotel included). According to founder Moj Mahdara, who we spoke to last year, it’s all about the community: “Our community is redefining beauty inside and out. We empower our audience by providing a space where everyone is valued and included, can talk about experiences and share. We own, celebrate, and share beauty with our community and the world.”
With their Los Angeles Festival experiencing its largest turnout ever over the course of two days last August, the New York Festival followed suit this year, expanding to two days for the first time. It was a weekend of panel discussions with faces like Paris Hilton, Lucy Hale, Laverne Cox, and MakeupbyMario, traditional and digital celebrity meet-ups, brand activations, opportunities for experiencification shopping, and surprise drop-ins that included Hillary Clinton herself. We were there, soaking in the latest trends in beauty and making notes on what was drawing in young consumers the most. Here’s a breakdown on the trends currently shaking up the beauty industry as seen at this year’s Beautycon:
Beauty + All-Natural
More than three in five Gen Z and Millennials tell us they’re more likely to buy a health or beauty product with an all-natural label—and that percentage goes up even higher for just females. It’s no secret young people are a conscious consumer group and more than ever they care about the types of products they are putting on their faces and bodies. Even Laverne Cox echoed the sentiment on the Lifetime Glam Masters panel, speaking to how she had to make the switch to gluten-free cosmetics after finding she was allergic. Through an arch of greenery with a “Be Well” sign, attendees could find a crop of new brands toting their all-natural offerings with clean ingredients. The health and wellness area was a new addition this year, and featured beauty brands like Vow Beauty, which proudly states they are phthalate, paraben, alcohol, fragrance, dye and cruelty free, bioClarity with plant-based skin care, and Feather & Bone which offers face wash in tablet form with all-natural ingredients.
Beauty + Being Woke
As we stated before, young consumers are a conscious group. In our now Post-Woke World, they have the reigns on some of the country’s biggest social and political movements—and they expect brands to be right by their side. With the majority of Gen Z and Millennials telling us they always or sometimes buy from brands that support causes they believe in, it’s becoming more evident that brands can no longer sit on the sidelines when it comes to the issues of today. Beautycon has never been shy when it came to supporting social movements, and this year it didn’t hold back when it came to making their positions clear on some politically-charged topics. Not only did Hillary Clinton make a surprise appearance, giving interviews and posing for selfies with fans, but an art-filled selfie wall dedicated to victims of gun violence was also prominently on display at the event. If their views on gun control weren’t clear, an accompanying sign stated “we stand with the victims of gun violence and commit to helping find a solution.”
Beauty + Instagrammability
If you were at Beautycon this year you know one thing is for sure—Instagrammability is going nowhere. Thanks to the power of the perfect social media shot, Instagrammability has become a currency for brands and finding the perfectly picturesque is a rising motivator for young consumers. Many brands, big and small, made sure to incorporate an Instagram-worthy photo-op to their experiences, often offering free products in exchange for a shout-out on the platform. From a vintage car to photobooths with props to too many floral oases to count to a swing within an elaborate cloud-filled backdrop, there was no lack of opportunities to pull out smartphones and start racking up the likes. Beautycon itself made sure to give attendees the opportunity to find their angle, setting up vanity lights to compliment selfies throughout the venue.
Beauty + Customization
Gen Z and Millennials are a unique group—and they want their products and services to reflect that. A little less than three in five tell us they are interested in buying products that are customized to their tastes and made specifically for them, and beauty is one industry that has embraced this desire. Along with Instagrammability, brands at Beautycon used customization to bring consumers to their booth, offering them the personalized touch when it comes to products that should be unique to them. For example, essence cosmetics, which let attendees create their own lip gloss for just $5 and Lifetime, which offered a wall of nail polishes that could be personalized with names for free.
Beauty + Inclusivity through Diversity
Inclusivity through diversity is not only a growing trend in the beauty industry but a feature that The Diversity Tipping Point generation expects. Time and time again, we see beauty brands that are succeeding and failing due to their ability to meet the needs of a wide range of young faces, and Beautycon wasn’t about to go the latter route. According to founder Mahdara, inclusion is not a focus but what they stand for: “Our community appeals to everyone, no matter the gender, shape, race, religion, or ethnicity. We are all about loving yourself and your own unique identity.” Along with integrating a new area for Korean beauty this year, the event partnered with BET Digital to become more inclusive than ever before. They produced makeup and hair tutorials with Black influencers for women of color and gave those same influencers the stage during panels. Actress Zendaya also made headlines for speaking at the event about “colorism in Hollywood:” “I am Hollywood’s acceptable version of a Black girl and that has to change. We’re vastly too beautiful and too interesting for me to be the only representation of that.”
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