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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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tle:  What are the key factors that have contributed to the rise of the independent beauty brands by female consumers?

1. Abstract

The beauty industry today is no longer dominated by multi-million pound companies such as Estee Lauder as it once used to be. The rise of the independent beauty brands has seen a great shift in the focus and the desire of beauty. Consumers are now not only concerned about their beauty products as a whole, but also their wellbeing and lifestyle too.


Currently, there is a lack of reporting on what is driving consumers to be more attracted to niche, independent beauty rather than global names in the industry and this study has been carried out to try and break down these factors. Investigation into the different factors has been carried out by asking avid female beauty or have experience in the beauty industry their opinions and thoughts towards the current shift within the industry.

2. Intro

2.1 Topic Introduction

The beauty industry has an estimated sales worth of $445 Billion (Sorvino, 2017) and with a considerable amount of brands entering the market, there appear to be no reasons as to why it would slow down any time soon. The beauty industry today consists of some very successful names, such as Johnson & Johnson and Unilever, who for example made an estimated $58.2 billion from sales in 2016. (Business Insider). These names may be of knowledge to someone who is not necessarily involved or interested in the beauty industry, due to their global size. Owning brands from Dove to Marmite.

However, as of the last five years there has been a soaring amount of new independent beauty brands, whom are now coming into competition with what used to be the market leaders. The sole difference between independent beauty brands and conglomerate owned brands is that exactly, that these brands are not owned by giants such as Procter & Gamble and are more often than not, started and owned by the same persons. This rise and shift of attention towards these new, niche brands has been created by a variance of different factors such as price, quality, placement and promotion and throughout this paper, the analysis of why the rise is continuing will be explored. This paper is focused on female consumers solely, due to the fact that the male industry has grown tremendously, but for different reasons and that therefore would lead to a greatly different study just in itself.

3. Chapter 1: The Beauty Industry

The beauty industry today consists of hundreds of different brands, originating from all over the world, some of the most recognisable brands being, Estée Lauder, L'Oréal and Dove. Not only is it made up from many brands it also has a great amount of different product areas; Skincare, Make-Up and Fragrance to name some of the largest. Not only are there different product areas, there are also greatly different price points too, with a Nivea moisturiser costing just £4.29 from high street store Boots (, is a considerably cheaper option to the luxury beauty brand La Mer, pricing their moisturiser at £220 per pot. (

Although this is the point that the industry has evolved to today, it was founded particularly different to what is currently is. Originating thousands of years ago, beauty was organic, natural and pure, for example insects, earth minerals and food were used mainly for lip, eye and skin tints. Gradually throughout time, materials progressed and more sustainable items emerged, such as essential oils, henna and kohl which are still used heavily in today's industry. Historically different beauty trends were created from the use of these products, especially from Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt and the Italian Renaissance. Although these trends tended to stay within their countries and era's due to lack of communication, it seems that similar trends have become re-lived in today's industry, by the introduction of new beauty brands and their focus on niche, clean and natural beauty for example 'Fresh Beauty'.

Considering the last 100 or so years of beauty and the industry that has been created, Mark Tungate discusses the rise of it through his book Branded Beauty (2011). Firstly and maybe most importantly he discusses the impact of Helena Rubinstein, a cosmetics entrepreneur, who ultimately created the concerns that people have today with their skin. The way in which Rubinstein helped to market her product was to identify problem areas and to advertise that her product would simply 'put them right'. Inside Branded Beauty the quote by Lindy Woodhead explains how, she wrote "She was the first beauty specialist to classify skin as "dry", "normal" and "oily". She later expresses that this would have presumably made the beauty conscious 'terrified'. (Tungate, 2011.p.23). Rubinstein's 'Crème Valaze' was launched in 1905 and the concerns that they were aiming to target are just as prominent in today's beauty launches. (See ad pics?). Not only did Rubinstein become one of the first beauty entrepreneurs, she launched one of the first independent beauty brands, described as 'hawk-eyed' she saw the importance of how her products were marketed. She insisted on the right department stores, trained staff, advertised counter space and most importantly the way in which her products were packaged and displayed and who would be using and promoting them.

Essentially, with the help of other successful beauty entrepreneurs, Elizabeth Arden & Estee Lauder, Rubinstein's concept of the skin needing these creams and solutions, it has left beauty consumers constantly searching for eternal youth, as explained throughout Branded Beauty. Estee Lauder, being the most innovative with her advertising, focused on using emotional buzz words like 'youth', 'radiance' and 'natural'. Proving that this was a successful focus for the company, she used 'Youth-Dew' her female fragrance to cement her success.

4. Chapter 2: The Beauty Consumer

For many years, 'the beauty consumer' consumed products purely for to solve skin issues and for conscious reasons, and consuming was primarily for the wealthier segment of the world. Helena Rubinstein famously stated that "Some women won't buy anything unless they can pay a lot". (Branded Beauty, 2011.p.24).  

Today's beauty consumers are on a quest for niche, natural and new products, which independent beauty brands seem to be actively providing for them. There is much more progress in creating new products, rather than searching through the past. Hoffmann states in Independent Luxury when discussing creating luxury companies, "several established luxury companies and creators were once disruptive and rebellious against the mainstream". (2015.p.49).

Considering what todays beauty consumers are wanting from products, there proves to be a shift in the focus of conglomerate owned brands, with the focus moving towards the more niche brands. A beauty journalist when interviewed about her preferences between indie brands and larger considering what brands to buy from explained, "I think it does have something to do with our generation being more compassionate, you want to buy something that does good, whether it be from eco-friendly packaging etc. You don't want to buy something from a big conglomerate that does nothing". (Perrin, 2018).

Throughout interviews of current beauty consumers there appears to be a pattern forming of what the consumer is looking for from beauty brands, which no longer appears to consist of these larger brands who 'haven't kept up with the times' (Perrin, 2018)

Fragrance is a prime example of beauty consumers seeking for a change from mainstream brands and eagerly exploring new alternatives. Trend forecasting platform WGSN explored the power of the niche fragrance with their report 'The Beauty Buzz: The Influence of Niche Fragrance'. Explaining within the report that there are over 800 niche fragrance brands today, having a 36% increase from 2011-2015, due to the consumers understanding the authenticity of the independent brands and expecting something unique. (WGSN, 2018).

Today's beauty consumers are becoming far more conscious with their buying, which is beneficial for niche and indie beauty brands, whom tend to pride themselves on being natural, transparent or innovative. Tungate (2011) explains where this 'trend' as it is often referred to evolved from, The Body Shop. Speaking about the originally independent beauty company, which is now owned by L'Oreal, he described the background of the companies idea, 'It seduced a generation infused with the values of the late 1960's'. (p.224). By showing its consciousness and rights activism, it connected to it's consumer on a more emotional level, which it seems that traditional brands are failing to do today. Further to this point, Mark Rey, President of Shiseido reported from the 2017 WWD Beauty Summit that traditional make-up brands had fallen by 1.6%, however the independent beauty brands were up by 42.7%. (Kestenbaum, 2018).

5. Chapter 3: The Marketing of Beauty

The beauty industry has seen a tremendous amount of change over the last 100 or so years. Historically, there have been many controversial opinions of the industry and its marketing, those opinions being anything from the usage of make-up to the models used to promote it. The marketing strategies have noticeably changed quite dramatically in the beauty industry, as previously it was enough to just have a single page spread in a fashion or lifestyle magazine to promote the brand or it's new beauty product. However, today it is far from that as the expectations that beauty brands are now expected to fulfil are substantially higher than before.

Within Tungate's Branded Beauty, the review of how different beauty entrepreneurs marketed their beauty creations shows great example of how mandatory the right kind of marketing it. In the mid 1800's, advertising was described as "fancy language designed to fool naïve consumers into purchasing dubious goods" (Tungate 2015) and was not seen to be appreciated at that time, especially within the United States. (p.77). Over time this view seemed to adjust with the growth of one of today's largest beauty companies, L'Oreal which is estimated to be worth $134.2 billion (Forbes, 2018). The company which was created by controversial figure, Eugene Schueller, saw him take a different approach to most with his marketing, "Tell people they're disgusting, they don't smell good and they're not attractive" (Tungate, 2015, p.56). Although this showed a blunter approach, Schueller still understood what he needed to execute in order to grow his independent beauty brand into an empire. He advertised his product 'aggressively' to ensure his product 'Dop' would be everywhere, using print media, radio advertising, billboards, bus-sides and competitions throughout the late 1930's. (p.59). Add about marketing

Beauty marketing is seen virtually everywhere today, especially that of conglomerate owned beauty brands. Previously, it had seemed to be enough for these large beauty brands to use whomever they wish to model whatever product they would like to promote. However, the likes of Estee Lauder, who pride themselves on being 'the global leader of prestige beauty' (Estee Lauder, 2018) approached a supermodel, Kendall Jenner (21 years old) to be the face of their Anti-Aging Eye Masks which unfortunately, did not appeal to their target market. A 22 year old Beauty Journalist from London was asked whether she preferred to buy from independent beauty brands or these larger brands such as Estee Lauder, referring to companies such as the following she stated "I think that I actually trust bigger brands less. I think that's because, smaller brands realise that to capture the millennial market hey need to have more integrity, which is something that the big brands don't have." (2018).

Over the last 5 years the usage of social media marketing has become one of the most powerful tools especially for new, independent beauty brands and has allowed them to become more globally recognisable. Independent brands tend to be more niche, personal and less tangible, but most importantly, "Indie beauty brand founders often care for their products like they would care for themselves" (Beauty Independent, 2018).

'Indie' Beauty brands as they are often referred to pride themselves on listening to their customer's, creating unique formulas and changing the standard of beauty that consumers have previously been used to.

Brands such as Glossier really took Instagram as their platform to connect with their consumers and have since created a community like space for them. "Glossier is really the first socially-driven beauty brand" (Emily Weiss, 2017). This platform, of free marketing is a great bonus to any brand, large or small, however for Indie beauty brands it is a necessity to help them compete against these large, powerful beauty brands and to express their unique selling point to their consumers.

90% of beauty consumers responded yes, that they followed the current brands that they buy from on social media, in particular the platform Instagram, where cosmetics brands M.A.C has over 18 millions followers. (Instagram, 2018).

6. Research Methodology

6.1 Chapter Overview

6.2 Overview Of The Research Approach

Whilst looking into secondary research for this topic of independent beauty, there seemed to be a real paucity of research in terms of the consumers views and feelings towards the industry, my research aims to change that and to add some valuable findings from within the industry and to shed some light on the factors that are fuelling the continued growth of it.

The research that has been carried out for this study consists of primarily qualitative research, with semi-structured interviews being the main source of information. The interviews are made up of approximately 20 questions, with them occasionally leading onto further questioning. The second method of research was by a structured survey that was targeted only to the appropriate participants, being females aged 18-60. This approach to research and findings enabled the questions that were being asked to become more insightful, by allowing the participants to expand on the topics and questions that were being brought to them. Again, the survey questions were semi-structured and allowed the person taking it write a few of their own personal views and responses. There have been specific questions that have differed depending on the participants occupation and experience, the younger/student participants were asked questions more focused on their shopping behaviours and the drivers that are leading them to become these powerful beauty consumers. Similarly, the industry experts that were interviewed were asked questions more focused on their experience within the industry and the changes that they have noticed in terms of pricing, marketing, design and the industry as a whole.

6.3 Aims & Objectives of Primary Research

6.4 Primary Research Methodology

The reason why this particular research structure was chosen was due to the main focus of the research being to enable the participant to answer the question but to expand it further with their own opinions, views and feelings towards the topics. Each participant was asked about their background, views of the industry and their brief shopping habits at the beginning of the interview, this is to find out primarily, where their feelings and loyalties towards the industry lay, but also what they are more inclined to buy from within the industry.

The interview participants were also asked to choose between independent beauty brands and global beauty brands when shown images and descriptions about the brands and to define why, which

7. Results

8. Analysis & Discussion

8.1 Conclusion

8.2 Future Direction

Creating a platform for these independent beauty brands to thrive in, by using them as the main source of recommendation for skin issues and treatments rather than using huge global

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