I spent such a fun couple of hours last week at Mintel a global market intelligence agency that turns out consumer and market research reports across all kinds of sectors. Naturally, I was there so see their legendary beauty stash!
The biggest surprise to me, as we carried boxes up from the basement, was learning that in order to have access to products all across the globe, the agency employs local shoppers. They’re paid to know the local beauty market like the back of their hand – everywhere from Brazil to Japan and beyond – and pick up anything new or innovative. Often Mintel provides them with a list of products to buy if they think they see a trend emerging – they need the products to back up their in-depth reporting.
Trend prediction isn’t an easy thing to do – you can’t sit in one country and rely on the internet to see trends emerging. Trends can come from anywhere – the team at Mintel might notice there is a particular wording on packaging that more than one brand is using. Each product they receive is photographed and logged to minute detail – ingredients, logos and of course, claims, and over time, a picture of trends emerges. This is highly useful to brands and new start-ups (and why they pay for the Mintel reports) because it allows them to be at the very beginning of a trend with some concept of how that will develop.
As an example, we looked at the trend of sport make-up, a trend identified by Mintel as Active Beauty indicated to be emerging in 2017. As a non-sporty person, it was news to me that women are asking for cosmetics that will see them through a work out. Previously, the options have been waterproof or long-last and not products that you can sweat through and they stay in place. So, because Mintel identified demand (through global consumer research), brands can pick up on that and develop products accordingly. Strangely, that same evening, a whole box of ‘sport’ make-up arrived at my door, so look out for the review.
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Going through products from other countries (I could have stayed all day!) patterns emerge – I have pictures of Korean brands, Sulwhasoo and The History Of Whoo with expensive and ornate palettes: different but the same concept. In Asia, trends happen quickly because of the ease of turnaround but local knowledge will indicate to Mintel whether it will stay niche or possibly be the beginning of a global trend. Look out, by the way for a Brazilian trend for ‘bomba’ – currently an addition, or booster, to shampoo, but the emergence of boosters is something we are all seeing right now.
I guess you don’t really think about all the behind the scenes data and research that goes into producing beauty products. A good example of global trend shifting is in countries where there has been a relaxation in wearing veils – where this happens there is a big surge in eye make-up trends. There is no such thing (or rarely) as a ‘surprise’ hit in beauty world. It’s all researched to the nth degree, particularly by bigger brands.
So, while all the razzmataz is in the finished product for us as consumers, it’s great to get insight into what’s happened in the background, before we ever set our eyes on the next unicorn palette. And, a great part of this is people who shop beauty for a living. Who knew?
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