Why Inclusive Beauty Matters


The move towards a more inclusive health and beauty industry really started gaining momentum in 2017 with Fenty beauty’s “inclusive beauty” campaign and the industry has come a long way since then. Whilst there is still room for improvement, many brands are starting to effectively listen to their shoppers. The marginalised groups finally being addressed by the industry include the BAME community; men; non-binary’s and the often-overlooked women over 40.

BAME communities have often been neglected by brands despite the moral and fiscal advantages of inclusion, i.e. the black haircare industry - valued at $2.5 billion. Despite the vastness of the market Mintel found that whilst black women are the most likely to wear their hair naturally, they are the least represented in natural product ingredients that would be kind and sensitive to the skin. Companies looking to address this problem include Afrocenchix, with their all-natural, vegan and fair-trade hair products tailored to the needs of afro hair and The Waterless Company with their range of waterless activated solid shampoos and conditioners, which promise and deliver non-residue results. These products allow those with tightly coiled 4B hair to avoid the ‘powdered wig’ effect post application and provide accessibility to those without water. This coupled with the cheap product price tips this company as providing one of the most inclusive ranges of 2020.

In Accenture’s recent research, 42% of consumers said they would pay 5% more to shop with a brand committed to inclusion and diversity. Whilst 29% would switch to a more enlightened retailer than the one they buy from currently, so it is in brands best interest to ensure their products provide sufficient choice for all.

Another cohort beginning to be recognised is men, who historically have been particularly underserved by the cosmetic and skincare industries. The desire for increased authenticity has led to an explosion of the male ‘skinfluencer’ on social media, Instagram seeing the hashtags #maleskincare and #menskincare reach a combined 120,000 posts last year. Google searches for men’s skincare routines also rose by 400% over the last five years and skincare companies are recording record profits in the billions, growing 16% year-on-year. To cater to this trend, beauty companies like Maybelline and Covergirl have announced male brand ambassadors.

According to a white paper released by Ipsos this year, we have globally seen a 6%-point increase in liberal attitudes since 2013, even Russia, one of the most conservative countries in the world, has seen a 9%-point rise in support for LGBTQ+ rights. This global shift towards inclusion translates into shopper behaviour and brands are responding, with “Boy beauty” and gender-neutral products. Companies like Asos, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Clinique, and others are offering makeup for men, while start-ups like Context and more dominant brands including MAC, Tom Ford, and Marc Jacobs have all launched gender-neutral makeup lines.

From gender, we move onto another underserved demographic: women over 40. Last year 40% of women 50+ didn’t ‘feel seen’ according to L’Oréal Paris research, whilst 70% of women over 40 felt that they were not seeing enough perimenopausal and menopausal product targeting. This shopper demand will see the end of ‘anti-aging’ products and the rise of the specific – catering to the more precise needs of women over 40 – including an increase of representation, as 74% of Boomers currently perceive this as lacking for their age group. To see the truth in this, we need look no further than the “Fabulous at Every Age” issue of Harper’s Bazaar that featured Gigi Hadid...a model at the grand old age of 21. This group is worth marketing to, as Gen X’s are highly engaged users and use more products than Generation Z. 2020 is set to see this change, with new launches from L’Oréal Paris, Clarins, Trinny London, Korres and Boots No7. Range.

As we enter the 2020s, we do so in a world that is more connected than ever, with social media facilitating a shop anytime, anywhere retail landscape. As shopping through digital marketplaces becomes the norm, our global diversity has never been more apparent and if the BLM movement has taught us anything, recognising this through tangible change is an important message for both retailers and marketers alike.

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