Despite the UK returning to growth after a double dip recession, the global economic climate is still looking gloomy with consumers becoming increasingly careful with their spending. For premium beauty this is a challenge that offers two choices: either create offerings at lower prices or increase perceived value for money and therefore prices. In skin care, this latter option appears to be working, with premium anti-ageing experiencing a robust 8% increase in value in 2011 and being expected to see similar strong growth continue to 2016. However, with commercial mass brands such as the UK’s Superdrug featuring high-tech technologies and offering them to consumers for a fraction of the price, what next for luxury beauty companies?
The answer appears to be bespoke services which, as previously mentioned by Euromonitor International, could hold the future for super premium skin care. In the UK in particular, luxury consumers appear to be searching for products to stress their individuality as well as seeking unique experiences. An increasing number of new technologies are thus being developed in the country, with these enabling consumers to discover the correct skin care products for their unique needs.
The Organic Pharmacy in London offers the first in-store DNA skin care test, which was developed by geneOnyx and analyses skin from a simple saliva test before offering tailored recommendations. The anti-ageing service costs £295 for a one-hour consultation and personalised skin care prescription. A global launch of this service is planned for early next year. With UK growth outpacing that of the larger premium anti-ageing sales areas in Western Europe, namely Germany, France and Italy, the country is becoming a focus area for premium companies. Players such as La Prairie for example launched subsidiaries in order to further strengthen their position in the UK. Similarly, the Ioma Beauty Diag machine is present in Harrods’ beauty hall and offers tailored recommendations from over 800 potential formulations. This analyses the skin after taking a series of multiple pictures and, in a few minutes, provides the customer with a skin care prescription.
Taking the service experience one step further, some brands even started offering these services on a complimentary basis as part of their customer service. Murad is a cosmeceutical brand created by Dr Murad and for example offers its customers a complimentary skin analysis, using its YouthCam skin analysis system to help tailor product recommendations to the individual. Similarly to the Ioma machine, this takes a series of pictures of the customer’s skin and highlights any issues. With strong science values as part of its brand heritage, this service is well aligned with Dr Murad’s philosophy on beauty and the service it provides in terms of premium anti-ageing skin care.
Natural brands are also jumping on the customised services wagon, with natural skin care player MyChelle Dermaceuticals launching a complimentary skin care analysis system called Visia Complexion Analysis System. This is available in Whole Foods Markets outlets both in the US and the UK. Taking this trend a step further, customers are advised to return at two- and four-month intervals for follow ups, visits that are also expected to prove the efficacy of the recommended products. This kind of initiative will be very welcome among consumers who are sceptical regarding the efficacy claims of anti-ageing products.
These new technologies offering customised recommendations are tapping into increasing demand for more personalised and closely-targeted products. This trend transcends beauty categories. In skin care, however, this trend is nothing new. Clinique’s skin type 1, 2 or 3 system was launched over 10 years ago, with Clinique being perhaps one of the first brands to exploit this type of demand. With the UK showing the greatest potential of the top five sales countries in premium anti-agers across Western Europe, the country is the best starting point for companies to road test these services. Promoting these services and encouraging repeat visits can help brands to further showcase the efficacy of their products as well as to cultivate loyalty and a personal relationship with consumers. However, the main benefit that these services offer to brands is the ability to stand out and distinguish their brand and skin care specialism in the face of multi-functionality.