• 26th January 2022

Sustainability, luxury, and other emerging trends in the beauty industry

In 2021, the beauty industry saw a return to normalcy following a tumultuous 2020. The rise of E-Commerce, increasing popularity of the luxury market, and brands focusing more on sustainability meant that consumers were flocking to buy beauty products, as the industry’s market worth increased from $483bn in 2020 to $511b in 2021 according to a report from Common Thread Collective.

But what does this mean for the beauty industry going forward into 2022? From sustainable products and eco-friendly cosmetic packaging to a larger focus on luxury, the coming year has a lot in store.

Chanel leads the way with sustainable beauty range

In January, French luxury house Chanel launched its first ever sustainable beauty range: No. 1. The nine-piece refillable collection features makeup, skin care, and a fragrance that comes in recyclable glass packaging. The packaging also uses organic ink and replaces the traditional cellophane and leaflets with a QR code.
This news has come with positive responses from many across the beauty and packaging industry. Pauline Paterson, the co-founder of UK-based cosmetics manufacturer Dr. PAWPAW, told GPA Global that they “applaud” Chanel’s move to launching a sustainable line.
The beauty industry is competitive, we know this,” She said. “We are only going to achieve what we need to make a difference in the world when it comes to sustainability if we all support one another, champion those making the changes needed and encourage those that aren’t to drastically up their game, and soon.

The beauty consumer is also becoming wiser and more educated when it comes to packaging, they identify any packaging waste immediately and simply don’t like it which results in missed sales. It can have a big impact on their decision to purchase and brands who are using outer plastic, not utilising PCR options, producing non-recyclable goods and offering disproportionately sized packaging are going to have to make changes to keep up with the competitive beauty market."
However, there are also experts who believe that, while a step in the right direction, it still may not be enough in terms of sustainability. Wizz Selvey, founder and CEO of brand strategists WIZZ&CO, told GPA Global that it won’t be long until customers begin to question luxury brands on sustainability.
It's brilliant that big brands like Chanel are starting to do things with a more sustainable focus,” Said Selvey, “But how long before consumers start to ask questions about how they are integrating this into their full product line, rather than selling and promoting additional products? It should be something that's central to all their product development going forward, rather than just a trend and additional product lines, so I hope Chanel will be looking at ways they can implement this across the board.”

Consumers are redefining ‘Luxury’

The launch of No.1 could very well signify a coming trend for, in particular, luxury beauty brands. However, Selvey said that consumer trends are seeing people reevaluating what luxury really means.
“It shouldn't be a case of luxury vs sustainability when it comes to choosing beauty products, particularly from a brand as large and established as Chanel.” Said Selvey, “What we're seeing from consumer trends is that people are starting to reevaluate what luxury really means to them.”

Selvey said that sustainability is one trend redefining the luxury market, especially now following the start of the pandemic. She also said that luxury is being seen as an experience in terms of time, which may create challenges for brands if they do not offer personalisation and transparency with consumers.
Chanel have labelled their new line 'clean', which is of course a phrase that's been around in Beauty for a long time, but has come under much more scrutiny over the past year, with consumers asking 'what does CLEAN mean?' because, although you can start to look at ingredients, clean also implies carbon footprints on ingredients too: how they're grown and where they're sourced could come into question. What is their definition of 'clean'?
At the start of this year, we've already seen new rules come into play around 'greenwashing', which have been put in place to protect the customer, and help them navigate and understand what they're purchasing and should be something brands are looking for guidance on too, to learn what they need to do to become truly more sustainable.”

What is Greenwashing and how do we avoid it?

Greenwashing is a phrase used when brands inaccurately promote products as eco-friendly, green, or sustainable. This leads to consumers buying the products believing they are helping the environment, when in reality, they are being misled.
From a trend point of view, this is more of a movement really, around sustainability and transparency.” Continued Selvey, “People want to find out even more than they ever have before about where their products have come from and how. The next year will surely be about how businesses, brands, collaborations, and groups can start to help consumers choose more wisely, carefully and consciously.”

Sustainability in cosmetic packaging

This year will see brands focusing not only on sustainability in products, but also at sustainability in packaging. This is not a surprise when considering that sustainability was a key trend in packaging throughout both 2020 and 2021, from materials used in packaging to the way packaging itself is used, 2022 will see further innovation from the beauty industry.
Ben Sillence, the Director of Strategy at design agency Lewis Moberly, told GPA Global that Chanel’s No. 1 launch signifies the start of environmentally friendly packaging in the luxury beauty market.

Following the launch of Chanel’s sustainable beauty line, we see a notable trend to really address packaging in terms of its materials, the inks that are used, and its reusability. The near future will see brands look to deliver premium, sophisticated experiences using existing sustainable materials, such as paper pulp and mycelium (mushroom), that showcase their craftsmanship and quality in a new dimension.
Plastic waste is a huge issue within the beauty industry and more consumers are demanding sustainable alternatives - take Boots’ launch of the ‘Be More’ beauty edit which highlights sustainable brands to customers so they are easy to shop and purchase. As consumer demand for sustainable products increases, these trends will continue to boom as companies adapt to the evolving market.”
Aside from alternative materials to plastic, Chanel’s launch also shows the start of a packaging trend, that of refillable packaging.
Refillable containers have been an existing trend in the beauty industry over the past year, being used by many brands for shampoos, fragrances, and skincare. Its presence in the cosmetic industry, however, has been few and far between.
That said, there are many luxury brands that use refillable containers, such as Charlotte Tilbury and Mac. Chanel’s entrance into this market brings the concept of refillable containers to a more mainstream audience, marking it as a trend to expect from the beauty industry in the coming year.

How can beauty brands keep up with the trends?

Keeping up with trends is important for beauty brands, especially as the cosmetic market is so saturated with small companies and luxury brands alike. Karen Lee-Thompson, the founder of Wo Skincare, told GPA Global that brands need to be more than just aesthetically pleasing in order to captivate the modern consumer.
Beauty product packaging can no longer be just aesthetically pleasing; they have to meet the increasing consumer demand on sustainability and have extra functional benefits.” Said Lee-Thompson.
For Wo Skincare, for example, we believe in keeping things simple. We consciously decided that our packaging didn't need to look perfectly white or glossy. Without the complex pack construction or decoration, we can reduce the overall environmental impact, making the recycling process easier for the consumer and cleaner for the environment.”
The push for beauty brands to be green has been ongoing for years, but 2022 is going to put utmost importance on sustainability. This is why it is important that brands are willing to make environmentally friendly and sustainable changes, not just temporarily for a trend, but as a permanent feature going forward.
The more popular and widespread sustainability becomes, the more consumers are able to identify when brands are only turning to sustainability for insincere means. Making the change and being transparent will not only help the environment but help the reputation, sales, and longevity of luxury brands.

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Our team has over two decades’ experience within the luxury sector, and has bagged some of the biggest industry awards – including Luxury Supplier of the Year at the Luxury Packaging Awards.

If you have a project that requires our expertise, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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