The beauty industry is glowing up. Limited shades and lengthy ingredient lists have been replaced with inclusivity and transparency. Additionally, as social media continues to present a bottomless supply of new beauty brands, consumers have become increasingly selective and demanding about what they’ll use to liven up their look. In fact, influencers and the internet might no longer be enough for a beauty brand to stand out in today’s oversaturated market.
With the rise of independent beauty brands like Kylie Cosmetics, Glossier, and Pat McGrath Labs, legacy labels have had to fuss with their strategies to keep from fading. Once the lifeblood of color cosmetics brands, Instagram interactions declined for the first time last year, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty US. To combat this, legacy brands turned to eye-catching acquisitions and digital developments to stay fresh. Estée Lauder, for example, acquired social media savant Too Faced and along with L’Oréal, experimented with augmented reality to take its products to the next level, supporting 50% of all AR activations across all brands tracked in Gartner L2’s study.
Though many beauty upstarts have relied on the power and popularity of their influencer founders, their star power may be stalling as consumer choice becomes more and more sophisticated. US makeup sales rose by just 4% in 2017—a slowdown from 14% growth in 2016, according to NPD. The more social media continues to project new names, the more challenges beauty brands, both old and new, will have to face.