Dew Gibbons + Partners



Studio, Beauty

Madrid is famed for its joie de vivre, with an insatiable (and late night!) appetite for food, music, art, and love. So it was a fitting venue for the 6th InnoCos Beauty Summit, which we attended last week.

No product category is more intimate for consumers than their relationship with their chosen beauty brands. Beauty can put a spring in the step as well as a glow in the cheeks. Both were evident at this two-day summit.

Euromonitor set the global scene with a market overview, highlighting key trends in the industry: the influx of ideas and products from Asia, the rise of strongly regional players in developing markets, cross-category products, and an increase in more personalised and niche offerings at the top end.

Innovation is InnoCos’ raison d’être and a diverse range of speakers looked at the drivers unleashing innovation in their businesses and supporting the above trends. Three things stood out: agile company behaviour, disruptive ideas, and technology – and ideally a combination of all three!

Graham Cross, Director of Commercial Alliances and Supplier Innovation at Unilever, talked about how working in cross-functional teams helps uncover hidden gems and puts the consumer at the start – and heart – of product development. Similarly, Dr Thomas Förster, Corporate VP R&D of Beauty Care at Henkel, reported on how the company’s drive for sustainability motivates product design and employee behaviour. The result? Multi-benefit and leave-in products that require less packaging and water – and are hugely popular with the consumer to boot. A win-win all round.

The disruptors were also out in force. We were treated to presentations by leaders from Spiezia, the first ever total brand to be approved by the Soil Association, Canadian men’s cosmetic brand ForMen, and Studio10, a make up range targeted at the over 35s to perfect older skin. Craig Dubitzsky, of oral care challenger brand Hello Products, FaceTime’d in to discuss how his range of friendly, bright orange and green curvy, natural products is setting the cat amongst the pigeons in the blue and red world of dental brands. This brand’s approach is 360º and everything has to be just right – the heavy click of the lid, the hand’s feel of the packaging, and every touchpoint up to and including social media presence. Disruptive and inspirational.

Technology was a constant thread. Sponsors Modiface and Techkon brought cosmetic apps to the table. Modiface is a leader in the world of augmented reality makeup applications, which enable consumers to see makeup on their face virtually – in 3D real time. Techkon’s ColorCatcher elevates skin tone matching technology to a whole new level of sophistication, enabling beauty companies to precisely tailor their offer to suit. Apps like these were also at the heart of inspiring presentations from Angela Cretu of Avon’s Africa and Middle East Division and Caroline Grange, International Digital and Ecommerce Director at Make Up For Ever. But the technology is only a new type of means to an end.

Avon’s aim is to empower women through beauty. In addition to its new online catalogue and representative online support tool, its anti-Domestic Violence app alerts the police or family about an attack by shaking a smartphone – it’s had over 47,000 downloads in Turkey alone.

Make Up For Ever has put digital at the heart of everything it does. As a cult-followed beauty junkie brand, they wanted the boldness and savoir-faire of their retail shops and makeup academies to seamlessly carry through to online. The process involves integrating all back office systems and training all staff, from the shop floor right through to finance, in the importance of the omnichannel experience. And the feedback from their 'prosumers' on social media, in-store, and online informs the whole product development process. Technology helps to deliver great brand experiences.

It felt really appropriate that delegates visited the iconic El Corral de la Morería, a flamenco show and restaurant. The dance and music was mesmerising. The singers, dancers, and musicians were in total harmony, wholly focused on capturing the mood and meaning of the songs. None of the show was just for show – every heel and finger click served a purpose to tell the song’s story.

Discovering and conveying the brand and product story is what drives us too – particularly in beauty. It’s not enough to create some pretty packaging or have a whizz bang piece of tech in your kit, it’s about using all of that to articulate a compelling narrative that beguiles and bewitches.

For further reading see our:
Thoughts on: The Language of Luxury