Color cosmetic trends: adapting to digital-savvy consumers

Color cosmetic trends: adapting to digital-savvy consumers

Color cosmetics are expected to do so much more than enhance natural appearance or create a glamorous look. Today, it’s also about looking your best, indeed perfect, for the smartphone camera. Social media has fueled this desire for perfection and brands are responding with innovative products and apps to appeal to digitally-aware consumers.

Enhanced mobile technologies mean that anyone can take a “selfie” using the camera on their phone or tablet. If it’s not good enough, then there are numerous tools at their disposal to improve their picture-making skills. Young women, “millennials”, are the most engaged demographic group and like to post selfies online on various social platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The need to be “photo-ready” is essential.

Beauty brands are responding with a new twist on traditional products, such as foundation, blusher, highlighter, eye and lip products. The jargon used is designed to entice women looking for HD-perfect skin through the use of words such as “photo-shopping” and “filters”. For example, Sephora’s Colorful Eyeshadow Photo Filter Palette comes in two colorways: “sunbleached filter” and “overcast filter”. Meanwhile, Estée Lauder’s Estée Edit line targets the 18-24 year old millennial consumer with products that include Flash Photo Powder and Flash Illuminator. Its Hi Lo Contour + Highlight pencil is an easy to use product that means the user can look Instagram-ready at every opportunity.

The newest trends in “selfie” make-up are coming from Asia, where beauty is not only taken extremely seriously, but to a whole new level. “Many products, such as those in Japan, are claiming to be perfect from a 10cm distance and from any angle, thanks to a blurring effect and light reflection pigments,” explains Florence Bernardin, company manager, Information et Inspiration, that specialises in Asian beauty trends. For example, Integrate from Japanese brand Shiseido is a loose mineral foundation that evens out pores to make them disappear, is non-cakey and has a “just applied” long-lasting finish. Another powder product is A’Pieu Shiny Luster Lighting Pact SPF17/PA+ by Korean company Able C&C, that provides an instant photo-shopped flawless finish and is aimed at those wanting a quick touch up when taking a selfie. It has a dual puff for different benefits: the coated side is for a light powdery make-up finish with a glow and the reverse is for covering pores and keeping make-up in place for longer. Leading Asian beauty brand Amore Pacific has Etude House Beauty Shot Face Blur SPF15/PA+, whose blendable formula creates a smooth finish and blurs out imperfections seamlessly for a flawless look. Its “baby Pixel Powder” (blur powder) is a weightless powder that ensures the color lays down smoothly while brightening skin tone.

Traditional products, such as blusher and highlighters are also getting a make-over thanks to 21st century wording designed to appeal to connected consumers. “Strobing is a new naming that is coming to Asia but as a product effect is not new at all,” affirms Bernardin. “It used to be called shading or products for 3D effect as many Asian women want to have a slimmer face that doesn’t look too flat. Similarly, light reflection has always been included in foundation to bring light to the face for a brighter skin tone. It is part of the Asian beauty ideal. I would say strobing is bringing new product formats such as convenient pencils or cushions to the beauty markets.”

Color brands are also looking for new ways to connect with consumers, including collaborations with bloggers to create new products or shades: Bernardin cites the Korean blogger Pony’s collaboration with subscription box scheme Meme.


Mobile application

In the space of a few short years, the beauty market has been been flooded with smartphone applications that specialize in helping consumers to discover make-up tips and products. And the latest technology coming from Asia has led to apps which can do much more.

One of the most straightforward apps is Shiseido’s Misette (translated as “let me see”) that allows users to share their make-up tips. Users can find the tips they want from a timeline, but can also search by facial parts, rankings or tags.

Mirror technology is opening up a whole new dimension through the ability to detect facial movement in real time. First introduced in Korea, the Laneige Beauty Mirror gives the user the impression they are actually applying makeup. Once the look is complete, it can be saved and shared on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Kakaotalk, and the cosmetic items can be saved onto a smartphone. Furthermore, the products used for the virtual makeover can be purchased directly from Laneige.

A more lighthearted, whimsical example is Shiseido’s Rouge Rouge’s digital kiss that allows the user to kiss through their smartphone. A digital campaign that corresponded to Shiseido’s 16-color Rouge Rouge lipstick in July 2016 incorporates the app that allows two people to kiss each other virtually: two lipstick marks are captured and “Kiss Monsters” appear on the screen.

In October 2016, Beauty magazine Biteki covermounted a clip-on smartphone lens. The macro lens can take close-up photos, even of skin texture and pores and can be used to check the effect of products on the skin. The wide-angled lens is designed to take a wide shot selfie using the smartphone.


Looking to the future

Beauty futurologist, Antoinette van den Berg, envisages a future for make-up that is more egalitarian and allows consumers to embrace their individuality. “Transgender is a very important new group that will influence brands to take another approach to developing cosmetics.” She believes that brands will look at this group differently and create a marketing blur, in the same way as some have when targeting older consumers. The second change will be the creation of make-up that allow people’s unique imperfections to be visible. “It may lead to a drop in sales of products for coverage, but create a new niche for transparent foundations,” she predicts.


*Florence Bernardin and Antoinette van den Berg will present at next year’s in-cosmetics Marketing Trends presentations in London, which takes place 4-6 April.

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Author: Imogen Matthews

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