The beauty wholesale industry is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace, thanks to influences from Asian beauty, product exclusives and newness, the merging of the beauty and wellness spheres- and trends spawned from creative startup and growth stage brands. In fact, even one-time, solely direct-to-consumer brands are entering the world of wholesale beauty. Here’s an in-depth look at beauty’s transformation...
Beauty Trend 1: Faster Cycles of Newness
Consumers have come to expect fresh marketing and products with ever-rapid frequency... and startup and growth stage beauty brands are delivering. Small and nimble with tightly-edited assortments of limited SKUs, these brands have the ability to disrupt the merchandising calendar with ease. Many brands continue to use traditional delivery calendars, however, the weeks and months are peppered with intermittent product drops (including surprise limited/special-edition products) and capsule collections (including collaborations with beauty influencers of note).
“The Gen-Z customer is loyal to products, not brands. She wants theatre, animation and innovation: new, new, new. Now, now, now.”
SARAH BROWN, JOURNALIST, THE BUSINESS OF FASHION
Beauty Trend 2: Beauty and Wellness Blur Lines
Beauty brands and consumers are merging the categories of beauty and wellness, to the benefit of retailers across the industry. The integration of the categories have introduced brands to new wholesale clients and markets while effortlessly opening the door for savvy product extensions. What’s more, the merging of the industries protects retailers’ beauty earnings. For example, cosmetics sales decreased by 4% in the first quarter of 2019. Retailers may still see strong beauty sales by bridging the gap with creams, tools, powders and a slew of other products within the wellness space.
Beauty Trend 3: DTC Brands Moving into Wholesale
A DTC beauty brand pattern is beginning to emerge. Brands such as Glossier and Kylie Cosmetics see staggering success with their wholly-owned channels (primarily e-commerce), and then slowly begin to dabble with the wholesale industry.
Kylie Cosmetics exploded with sales, thanks in large part to her sizable Instagram following. Her products were initially available online or through limited-edition pop-up shops. Fast forward to 2019, and the successful beauty brand has an exclusive deal with Ulta Beauty where their products are sold both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Contributing to the trend, Thrive Causemetics, another previously DTC-only beauty brand, is selling a limited-edition capsule collection for the holidays- exclusive to Ulta Beauty.
Meanwhile, DTC hit, Glossier, inked a deal with Nordstrom for special Glossier Pop-In Shops at select Nordstrom stores. The companies are joining forces to sell the “Glossier You” fragrance. Nordstrom is a sound partner for the beauty brand with a reputation for attracting one previously DTC-only brand after another, including Reformation, Away, Greats and Good American. When DTC brands sell through retailers, it’s a popularity and sales boost for wholesale partners and an effective strategy for reaching new audiences for brands.
“Fragrance is an extremely personal category — one that people understandably prefer to discover in person — and department stores are the largest channel for fragrance, making up nearly a quarter of all U.S. fragrance sales.”
EMILY WEISS, CEO, GLOSSIER
Beauty Trend 4: Asian Beauty Influence
Asian beauty products and brands are having an unwavering influence on the world of beauty. With no signs of a slowdown, the Asian beauty industry is creating major trends left and right- some of which are being adopted by Western heritage beauty brands. For example, Lancôme offers a cushion compact, a Korean product, encouraged by celebrity makeup artist and Lancôme creative director of makeup, Lisa Eldridge, after a trip to Asia.
Referred to as the “Asian-ification” of beauty by Nicole Tyrimou, beauty and personal care analyst at Euromonitor International, Western companies would do well to learn more about traditional Asian beauty product ingredients and rituals. It’s equally important for retailers and brands to collaborate with Asian beauty brands - Japan, China, South Korea and others - as well as Asian beauty influencers and celebrities; creative opportunities and inspiration abound.
“The Western market has long been influenced by emerging beauty trends from Japan, but we are increasingly looking to China and South Korea for developments in skincare. They are driving innovation in the field, from BB creams to serums, brightening creams, dark spot correctors, face masks and anti-aging products. Asian consumers are some of the most discerning globally and tend to spend more on beauty products than those in the West, which tends to translate to Asian brands investing in higher quality ingredients within their products.” DANIELA RINALDI, GROUP COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, HARVEY NICHOLS
Beauty Trend 5: Retailer Exclusives
Finally, retailer-specific product exclusives are increasingly becoming a regular practice within the beauty wholesale sphere. One of the unintended consequences of the omnichannel experience is that consumers have little to no incentive to shop popular beauty brands from specific retailers. With just a few clicks and scrolls, shoppers realize that so many different shops carry so many of the same beauty products- even the same exact colors and fragrances. Product exclusives are the solution. Difficult to obtain products elevate the excitement around the brand while driving targeted traffic to select wholesale clients.
Goat milk beauty brand, Beekman 1802, has an excellent approach, offering DTC exclusives and exclusives for specific retailers. The beauty brand is seeing 60% YOY holiday season sales growth and projects $100 million in retail sales come 2021.
“Every customer would have access to the same products and that became a challenge if the wholesaler saw the same product at [another retail partner like] QVC for a better price. It also gave the customer no incentive to buy the product from us directly.”
BRENT RIDGE, CO-FOUNDER, BEEKMAN 1802