Against a challenging economic, social and environmental backdrop, we present five areas that will impact product development for beauty businesses by 2023. The following pages explain these areas, explore the opportunities they present, identify early adopter companies, and outline what you should do to succeed. The areas are:
Each January WGSN produces the Big Ideas series of reports (one for each of our platforms – Fashion, Lifestyle & Interiors, Beauty, and Food & Drink), which highlight the industry-specific trends you need to know now, so you can start developing products and services that will resonate with consumers in two years’ time.
The five trends in our Big Ideas reports evolve from the broader themes explored in our two annual flagship forecasts – Future Innovations, which showcases the creative and cultural directions that will shape the next two years, and Future Drivers, which chronicles the social, economic and political factors that will affect businesses in 2023. Big Ideas takes shape alongside our Future Consumer forecast, which is published in January and outlines the key consumer profiles you will need to engage with over the coming years.
These reports are produced by WGSN’s global team of experts and analysts, ensuring they have broad relevance across all regional markets. Our trends are validated by data, industry examples and our unique STEPIC methodology (encompassing developments in society, technology, environment, politics, industry and creativity) so you can apply them with confidence to your product development.
The five need-to-know Big Ideas for 2023
Push for Progress
The urgent need for ethical, inclusive and sustainable change will drive consumers to seek proactive products and business practices that actively improve the world. Transparency will be non-negotiable.
Beauty consumers will prioritise efficacy and efficiency as they look to make smart purchases that don’t harm the planet. The skinimalism trend, which champions simplified skincare routines, will unite frugality and sustainability in hybrid products.
Beauty and health will be one and the same, with products and treatments formulated to support physical and mental wellbeing. Cellular beauty will combine science and therapy.
Beauty consumers’ newfound tech-ceptance will create ‘beauty moonshots’ in product design. Advances will focus on new bio-engineered ingredients and enhanced potency and delivery methods.
Beauty communities and customer collaboration will increasingly shape product development. Consumers will migrate to brands with shared values, which treat networks and co-creators equitably.
In 2023 products will need to be fit to function in a trading environment where collective activism has increased and industry practices are being continually challenged on environmental and social grounds.
Regulators, investors and consumers will coalesce to demand services, systems and products that accelerate regenerative change and deliver inclusive and equitable outcomes at a local and global level. Proactively designed products that do more good will stand out to consumers as markets become inundated with products designed to do less harm.
As we put the turmoil of the pandemic behind us and economies return to growth, it’s important that the lessons of 2020 are acted upon. Brands and retailers must seize the opportunity to reset or be held accountable as the beauty industry recreates itself as more ethical, inclusive and sustainable. In 2023, a brand that doesn’t participate positively won’t participate at all, as beauty consumers look to invest in products that support their needs and the needs of others. Standing for something other than the bottom line will propel brands to the forefront of much-needed radical change, and complete transparency will be non-negotiable. Products must help heal the world, and be created by processes that boost biodiversity and leave no footprint behind. Now is the time for progressive transformation.
Tatabi Studio’s IKI design concept reimagines the classic toothpaste tube as a refillable shape, demonstrating a need to disrupt and subvert longstanding product expectations
Brands must become activists, inspiring and helping consumers to do better while creating an eco-optimist mindset that protects, celebrates and supports humanity. Products that give back to the environment, rather than just take less from it, will be expected, as regenerative design becomes the norm. Businesses must protect the planet for future generations and the future of beauty, too.
Klorane’s anti-pollution haircare line uses aquatic mint, which has an ability to purify polluted freshwater. It means the shampoo does not contaminate the water as it is rinsed away down the drain.
Dow has saved $500m thanks to its Valuing Nature goal, proving that working with nature – not against it – delivers financial rewards.
Supply chain tracking technology will be essential for all businesses to securely and efficiently prove their actions on a local and global platform. This transformative approach to traceability will become the industry blueprint, empowering brands to become more trusted in an increasingly discerning society.
By 2023, the ‘refillution’ will be in full effect, with ‘bottles for life’ and milkman-style delivery services becoming an easy and affordable everyday habit, such as Meiyume’s new jar with removable inner cup, which allows the weighty outer jar to be refilled quickly.
Brands that stand for humanity will be the new leaders, setting a standard for the industry’s accountability around its impact on the world. Financial implications for brands that fall short will be commonplace, as investors look to lend more positively. The Halo Collective is a newly founded group fighting to end discrimination against Black hairstyles. Unilever is the first company to commit to the group’s code, pledging to protect workers with afros and dreadlocks. In 2023, brands that prioritise the protection of people and planet will see profit follow.
Maison Made is the first luxury skincare brand to be certified as biodynamic, through Demeter Association Inc. It limits production rather than manipulating crops and land to over-deliver
Aveda uses Wholechain technology to verify its Madagascan vanilla, collecting data from its supply chain via QR codes and phones, tracking the bean's journey from farmer to formulator
The aquatic mint used in Klorane’s new anti-pollution haircare line protects hair, scalp and the environment by not contaminating water as the shampoo is rinsed away
Unilever is tackling the ‘first mile’ of its supply chains. Geospatial analytics, satellite imagery and AI pinpoint which farms and plantations supply its mills in areas at risk of deforestation
Dermalogica’s online course trains beauty professionals to read body language and facial expressions and improve their listening skills, to help support clients' emotional wellbeing
Income insecurity and recession will have been experienced by many by the time we reach 2023, leading consumers to reassess their priorities and needs.
Frugality will be embraced as a life skill – one that can be mastered, shared and celebrated as a new form of smart consumption. To appeal to this mindset, it will be imperative to develop products that can be made and used efficiently, and that enable self-sufficiency, aligning with your core consumers’ values and interests. The motivation to be more frugal and less wasteful will not only emerge from financial constraint, but also from a newfound interest in DIY, and as a way to better sync with the seasons, the environment, or with a community or locality.
As beauty consumers continue to reassess their priorities and needs, brands and retailers must empower these newly confident and self-sufficient shoppers to make smart decisions for their pockets and the planet. In 2023, value will increasingly be equated with efficacy and efficiency. Buying well and making judicious and thrifty choices will be celebrated and respected. Products with proven results will be the new measure of value for money, irrespective of price tag, while products that enable sustainable consumption will be in high demand. Brands must ensure consumers can enjoy guilt-free use of their favourites. Items must come without the fear of creating more waste, and celebrate the satisfaction of frugal choices.
Frances Prescott’s collection of three luxury multitaskers includes the facial Tri-Balm which cleanses, exfoliates, and moisturises in one step
Skinimalism (the trend for simplified skincare regimens and products) will evolve from limitarianism, uniting frugality and sustainable design. Enhancing efficacy and efficiency, the skinimalist approach will streamline routines, with hybrid products blurring lines between categories and reducing the need for multiple products.
US brand Merit will soon launch a "well-edited" collection of essentials, centred around The Minimalist complexion stick. Neither a concealer nor a foundation, it replaces both in make-up bags. Live Tinted’s revolutionary Huestick in five inclusive shades can be used as a lipstick, eyeshadow, blush and colour corrector.
Evolving beyond copies of cult favourites, 'dupe culture' will enable financially pressed consumers to find affordable or more sustainable alternatives with similar results, offering accessibility and authenticity. Brandefy is a community-powered beauty dupe platform and app where users review and find comparative products, including vegan or fragrance-free versions. With around 30,000 monthly active users, it saw 330% year-on-year growth in accounts in 2020. Supergreat's community of "real beauty fans" shares product reviews and routines via short videos.
Efficacy will be a key purchase driver for frugal-minded shoppers, as they equate proven results with value for money. Informed consumers will question product claims and favour evidence over brand name, especially for high-price products. New beauty app Myrror helps consumers understand a product's effectiveness through its Personal Progress Tracker and Product Validation Tool, which compare and evaluate skincare. US skincare brand Proven is backed by "the world’s largest skincare database," The Skin Genome Project, which carries data on the effectiveness of more than 20,238 skincare ingredients, more than 100,000 products, and more than 8m user testimonials.
Live Tinted’s Huestick, which comes in five inclusive shades, is a lipstick, eyeshadow, blush and colour corrector all in one. Packed with hyaluronic acid and vitamins, it has attracted a waitlist of more than 10,000
Launching in early 2021, Merit's edited collection of essentials centres on The Minimalist complexion stick. Neither a concealer nor foundation, it replaces both to streamline beauty routines.
Supergoop’s Daily Dose SPF 40 sunscreen-serum hybrid is packed with skincare go-tos vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, plus a healthy bacteria said to encourage collagen production and fight the effects of blue light on skin
Supergreat is a community of "real beauty fans" sharing routines, reviewing products and shopping daily drops, gaining over 20,000 Instagram followers since its launch in 2018
The Skin Genome Quiz helps Proven create tailor-made formulas that ensure consumers "won’t waste time and money trying out products that may or may not work"