Novel beauty innovations have always attracted the attention of the media, but the coverage and frenzy surrounding the BB/CC cream phenomenon has been unprecedented. Boosting the US ‘other facial make-up’ category with growth rates of around 30% in 2012, according to Euromonitor International, these ‘cult’ beauty products have transformed the global innovation landscape. While combining primary benefits from three different categories – sun care, skin care and colour cosmetics – their all-in-one concept is nothing new but is simply a different interpretation of an ongoing trend.
In recent years the approach taken by many brands has been towards a more holistic view on products. The threat of a potential slowdown in Brazil and China, coupled with pessimistic forecasts for Western Europe, has driven beauty brands to look for a competitive advantage by adding unique value to their offerings. This has also been driven by increasing consumer demand for more sophisticated products. Furthermore, cautious spending and increased lack of time increases the desirability of products with multiple benefits which can simplify beauty routines. The popularity of multi-functional offerings is resulting in sun protection, anti-ageing and foundation moving beyond prevention and correction to universal solutions which promote skin enhancement and a healthier appearance.
While all-in-one solutions have been around for some time now, such as Olay’s Total Effects which was introduced back in 1999, the emergence of BB/CC creams in developed markets has epitomised the trend for multi-functionality, delivering a convenient, time-saving but, more importantly, value-for-money solution. While originally hailing from the skin-loving Asia Pacific market, their appeal has been partly due to the ongoing tendency for novel concepts from the East transferring to Western markets, similar to the trend for offerings with brightening properties in skin care and the oil invasion across hair care and skin care. Furthermore, BB/CC creams’ trendy image and accessible price points have been the key factors behind their success.
Their popularity has not only doubled the growth of other facial make-up, under which Euromonitor International classifies BB/CC creams, but has also given rise to a range of product lines with the BB label. There have been concealers and bronzers, lip glosses and even BB creams for hair, showcasing how the two double letters are becoming synonymous with multi-functionality as brands appear to be giving a BB label to every multi-functional product. However, the overuse of multi-functionality and BB labelling could result in a blurring of the actual benefits of these products and what they offer. This could also potentially pose a threat to other lines within a brand and create further confusion among consumers as to what their exact purpose and added value is. Furthermore, the entry of BB creams in eye, face, body and hair care will eventually defeat the purpose of saving time and money, with the result being the same amount of product used and time spent as before. If this trend continues, the credibility of products using the BB label could become damaged.
The rise of holistic products has benefited some categories more than others. While BB/CC creams have been experiencing a strong upsurge, weaker growth in facial moisturisers and sun care, coupled with static growth in anti-agers, may well be the result of the plethora of such multi-functional products in the marketplace. If we look at colour cosmetics, foundations have also benefited from the multi-functionality trend, boosting facial make-up’s growth globally. The addition of anti-ageing and moisturising benefits has helped create products that offer a lighter texture, provide coverage and have stronger credentials. In contrast, tinted moisturisers, despite embracing the multi-functionality trend, now face the danger of becoming obsolete as the combination of coverage, sun protection and skin benefits in BB/CC creams barely differs from tinted moisturisers, but the popularity and buzz surrounding them is much greater.
At the same time, all-in-one offerings could also be a good strategy for targeting younger consumer groups and offering an intermediate solution when time and money are tight as many premium brands price them lower than their foundations and anti-agers. Furthermore, with many of these products also marketed as novel, consumers are willing to experiment, making first-time purchases easier to achieve. As a result, multi-functionality, which is now becoming the norm, and the BB/CC cream fad is expected to not only continue but intensify, with both mass and premium players seeking to capitalise on this latest beauty trend.
While multi-functional products are highly sought after by consumers, stressing the primary benefit of a product remains crucial. Many beauty brands segment their offerings either by skin type or by emphasising a key benefit so as to provide specific guidance for consumers. For example, the Nude Magique CC cream collection from L’Oréal Paris, although by default multi-functional due to the ‘CC’ tag, promotes its specialisation by targeting different skin concerns, such as dullness, redness and fatigue, thus helping consumers to identify which product is the right one for them. As this intensifies, targeted multi-functionality, although a contradiction in terms, may well become the new norm as companies increasingly widen the range of benefits, either to create more specialised offerings or reach a wider consumer base.