Genetic-profiling and virtual reality predicted as top trends for the beauty industry

Skincare informed by genetics and virtual reality in the retail space are among the top trends predicted to shake up the beauty industry as we head into 2020, according to global trend authority WGSN’s Future of Beauty report.  

“As technology and Mother Nature join forces to meet the needs of an increasingly socially-conscious consumer, our beauty habits are predicted to become all the more holistic and personal come 2020,” the report states.

WGSN’s Insight Team identified four significant movements which they believe will change the face of the beauty industry in the coming years.

1. Next generation genetics
Moving the concept of tailored beauty into a new realm, researchers believe the analysis of genetics will transform the industry’s approach to personalisation. “The desire to become more in tune with our skin and bodies means consumers are seeking fully bespoke solutions tailored to their DNA,” the report states. “A shift in consumer mind set combined with a less-is-more attitude, and a preference for investing in quality rather than quantity, is triggering a demand for products that provide long-term preventative care.”

Products of this nature are already emerging that work “below the surface” to help clients gain deeper skin health. For example, Samsung’s portable device Lumini allows users to take a selfie and send it to an app for under-the-surface analysis while Skintuition from Cambridge Consultants is a multispectral technology that exposes what is underneath the surface by looking at blood, oxygen saturation and melanin levels, while tracking changes over time.

Researchers predict that beauty treatments that use in-depth analysis of medical history and DNA will boom, while big brands will approach genetics in the form of in-store procedures, much like Selfridges with its Facegym treatments which use currents running over the surface of the face to tighten skin.

2. The all-clusive consumer
Emerging markets are driving a cultural shift in the needs and wants of the beauty consumer, combined with increasingly racially diverse populations around the world, say researchers. “Demographic change, sparked by migration and the purchasing power of ethnic consumers, is seeing even established markets change with pace, demonstrating an intrinsic need for an evolved offering that recognises that one product, or approach, does not fit all,” says the report.

As a result, brands are working to develop ranges and campaigns that service a more diverse set of skin needs and tone, such as Maybelline, L’Oréal and Rimmel London who have all championed the rise of male make-up stars and genderless beauty. “Generation Z is increasingly rejecting gender conforming identities, with a growing number of men embracing the transformative power of skincare and fragrance,” the report states.

The category of menopause skincare is also progressing, with brands Phyomone and Stratum C developing ranges that meet the needs of those going through hormonal ageing, while Mexican brand Bissu honoured deaf women in a sensitive nail polish campaign which highlighted the important role hands play in communication.

3. The always-on assistant
Researchers believe the consumer journey will be elevated by interactive technologies, which will enhance both online and real world experiences. “Developments in beauty that create a more bespoke approach to product creation will require a rethink of the physical retail space, while the augmentation of artificial intelligence (AI) will overhaul product discovery and customer assistance in the online environment,” the report states.

Virtual reality could revolutionise customer learning, researchers say, with L’Oréal experimenting with it as a training tool for haircare professionals and Charlotte Tilbury having launched its Scent of a Dream campaign with a virtual reality-based marketing campaign, which transported the consumer to a glamourous party in space with model Kate Moss.

It’s believed that retail spaces will also need to offer new services to help drive footfall to stories, focusing on education, events and entertainment. For example, Panasonic’s smart mirror uses image analysis to assess skin and create 3D-printed customised make-up, while also virtually applying make-up to the image so users can see what it will look like on them.

4. Nature hacking
As consumers pursue a more sustainable and ecologically sound lifestyle, the industry is responding with a conscious gravitation towards products and techniques that echo that desire for clean living, researchers say. Now, 75% of millennials are looking for sustainable offerings from their beauty brands and Greenpeace’s Detox campaign has encouraged brands to eliminate all toxic chemicals from products and production processes by 2020.

“Environmentally friendly ingredients and manufacturing methods are at the forefront of ‘natural’ innovations being explore by global brands,” the report comments. “Plant colouring is being adopted as an alternative to harsh chemical dyes…[and] processes and packaging are undergoing extensive new developments.”

For example, refillable make-up products such as cushion compacts are growing in popularity while many are offering discounts on new products in return for old bottles that have been brought in by consumers.

You can find out more about WGSN here.