New trends and end of eras

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Isn’t she a beaut! The front cover of April 2018’s Natural Beauty News is all about the phenomenal male grooming category, which is at last achieving some tangible disruption in the world of natural beauty. Jam-packed with insightful opinion pieces and trend watches, this latest issue is a bitter-sweet one for me; it opens the door on a flurry of new growth in the market, but it closes on my much-loved stint as Editor.
I’m sad to say goodbye to the publication after so many years at the helm, especially one that started out in life as a nugget of an idea I had over 10 years ago, but I fully understand and support the team at Diversified’s decision to lead their editorial from in-house, especially now that they have Rosie Greenaway on board at NP, who is doing such a fabulous job.
It’s been a real pleasure working with both my Diversified family and colleagues in the wider industry, and I, of course, remain a strong advocate of the natural beauty sector and all that it stands for. It also goes without saying that my wings are now free to explore new territory ‘conflict of interest’-free, so if any brands in the beauty sphere require anything editorial, I welcome you to get in touch.
So long NBN, I wish you well.

Keep calm and slow down

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Once a year, around the month of November, great minds from the natural beauty sector assemble at Diversified HQ in Brighton to attend the Natural Beauty News round-table. It’s a humbling experience to be part of, to witness the merging of expert opinions, to hear the knowledgeable speak from their perspectives, and to ascertain what new terrain our much-loved industry is embarking on.

What I found most revealing this time around as Chair of the round-table, however, wasn’t the table’s desire for boundary-breaking innovation or their impassioned views on regulation, but instead a more self-effacing and introspective look at where to go from here.

There is no denying that the industry is indeed moving forward. The Soil Association continues to record around 20 per cent growth each year, with its number of applicants increasing on average by 51 per cent annually. But of course, these statistics are only reflective of certified organic growth. As good an indicator as they are, what if organic isn’t the future of natural beauty at all? What if the focus is on sustainability, instead?

The natural beauty industry has been marching to the beat of the certification drum for so long now that perhaps we’ve forgotten to tune in to the rest of the orchestra alongside it? Taking responsibility for our own health and beauty, and striving for an environmental, financial and ethically sustainable future, were the key points that seemed to truly resonate with all of the round-table panellists.

It’s good to keep innovating, and definitely necessary to keep looking outside of our own sector for new, pioneering ideas, but not to the detriment of our existing creations. Particularly when retailers are telling us that 80 per cent of their yearly sales are made up of ‘hero’ products.

Instead of following the mainstream beauty timeline, where new launches are old news within three to six months, we should be slowing down, taking our time, and investing our energy and marketing skills in educating consumers. If the future of the industry is founded on sustainability, then ‘Slow Beauty’ seems to be the obvious next step.

New product development is what the consumer thinks they want, but it’s our job, as a sector, to show them what they really need. And that is ecological, justifiable, effective, viable beauty. If you get it right the first time, then there’s surely no need to keep reinventing the wheel.

New ingredients, evolving applications, and innovative preservatives are always going to be at the forefront of an industry that is ultimately driven by a desire to look good. And there is no denying that it’s the exciting, fresh beauty inventions that entice customers through the shop door. But it’s not always necessary to be out with the old, and in with the new. Or more to the point, out with the local, and in with the organic.

 

Mirror mirror on the wall

 

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It’s official, the ideal age for a person according to the people of Britain is 36. New research brought to us by a recent YouGov survey shows that the majority of the 1,700 people who took part in the poll view middle age as having the highest prestige, status and everything else deemed to be good and worthy.

I’m a little unsure, however, as to what this new-found information means for me, personally. Either it’s fantastic news due to the fact I am sprinting towards my now enlightened 36th birthday faster than I can shout “wrinkle at six o’clock!”, or it’s all downhill from here…

The survey goes on to reveal that 29 is the average ideal age for physical health (I’m definitely doomed there), and for wisdom, it is 51 (I’m working on it).

Now that I know I am soon to be experiencing the best year of my life, I feel inclined to make the most of it. Or best of all, I should pay no attention to it whatsoever. According to Fiona Klonarides, founder of The Beauty Shortlist, 2016 is in fact the age of “yearless beauty” where age is irrelevant.

This alternative take on the zeitgeist is a reflection of the ever-expanding range of products and brands that have been entered into the 2016 Beauty Shortlist Awards that focus on nurturing skin health, embracing natural beauty ingredients and not pigeon-holing consumers into buying from limited categories. At the time this Beauty Buzz column was being written, Klonarides was in the thick of the judging period, and stated that “this year there are more products that got ranked 10s by the judges than ever before in the past five years, the standard has shot up and it’s a year of game-changers.”

And it seems Klonarides is not alone in her age-resistant stance. Newly emerging paraben-free make-up brand Wild About Beauty, co-founded by make-up artist Kim Jacob and TV personality Louise Redknapp, has the mantras ‘wearable affordable beauty’ and ‘ageless radiant skin’ at the forefront of its branding.

Even the larger players are changing the way consumers shop for their products, and ultimately view their brand. The Organic Pharmacy, for example, allows its online customers to choose whether they wish to shop by category, shop by concern, or breaks it down even further to shop by what’s new, types of treatments, the changing seasons and promotional campaigns.

The vast majority of shoppers will still want to stick with what they know, and search for the likes of anti-ageing skincare or sun protection, and we are a long way off retailers and brands alike doing away with this type of categorisation. But recognising the shifting sands of consumer shopping habits and adapting with them is the smart (and some may say only) way of moving forward and ultimately growing as a retailer.

Once upon a time the word ‘antioxidant’ couldn’t be used in beauty without the words ‘age defying’ accompanying its every appearance. This past month I’ve been trialing Organic Pharmacy’s Antioxidant Lip Balm – a rich nourishing balm infused with shea butter, pomegranate and vitamin E. I’ve really enjoyed the way it leaves my lips feeling soft, moisturised but non-greasy, and I find myself re-applying it at every opportunity. Not, you understand, because I think it will turn back the time on my ageing (soon-to-be) 36-year old lips, but because the ever-so-slightly grainy texture keeps them buffed, while the rosehip scent is utterly gorgeous. I wholeheartedly recommend it. And not just for those of you in your mid-thirties either.

If you fall short of the dream age of 36, fear not. Apparently, people aged between 18 and 24 said it was 27. It was 34 for the 25-49 bracket, 40 for those aged between 50 and 64, and 42 for the over 65s.

So what the survey is really telling us is that there is no dream age at all, just an ever-changing perception of utopia…

NBN hits the press…

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Well it’s official – the first edition of Natural Beauty News has been written, designed and packed off to the printers. All 32 glorious pages of it conceived with the organic beauty industry in mind, and packed full of riveting features, interviews and trend forecasts. Don’t worry, it’s out in March, so you won’t have to wait too long to bag your copy. But for now, here’s a front cover teaser of our fab first interviewee, Kate Humble.

Let’s start a revolution…

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It’s the year 2016, and I’m inciting a retailers’ revolt. Well, sort of. When you stock nothing but the best on your shelves in the first place, there’s no need to begin slashing prices to entice customers through the door. Instead, have faith in your product, have faith in your customer, and most of all have faith in your own judgement. So the message in my latest Beauty Buzz column is simple. Just don’t do it…a sale, that is.

Natural Beauty at its best – watch this space!

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This month saw the launch of the fabulous 2016 Natural Beauty Yearbook. Packed full with interesting insight, forecasts and trends, I am proud to say that it is yet another ‘job well done’ by all of the team at Diversified.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to the next phase of this publication’s life – the biannual Natural Beauty News supplement, which will step into the shoes of its retiring Yearbook sister, and pick up the pace with the first edition set for March 2016.