The Three Systemic Shifts Shaping the U.S. Beauty Landscape

The Three Systemic Shifts Shaping the U.S. Beauty Landscape

Across the broad fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) landscape, you’d be hard pressed to find an industry that’s more driven by market trends than the beauty industry. And when we stop and take an in-depth look at what’s going on in the beauty space, we can see that trends are re-writing the basic foundation of the industry.

There was a time, not too long ago, that much of the beauty industry was based on physical appearance. Today, a series of overarching consumer trends in other sectors area having a dramatic influence on the beauty industry. Yes, appearance is still a component, but three systemic shifts are the key drivers shaping tomorrow’s beauty market:

  • Natural
  • Personal
  • Connected


When we look at sales trends in the total beauty and personal care categories, the true opportunity lies within the natural arena. Comparatively, overall sales in beauty and personal care are down about 1% and 2%, respectively. Growth in products claiming to be natural is slowing, as consumers are gravitating toward products that deliver cleaner, simpler ingredients. Transparency-minded shoppers are looking for specific and functional beauty products.


The same shoppers who are redefining what healthier, natural beauty products look like are themselves younger, more racially, culturally and ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan consumers. Simply put, there is no one beauty shopper.

More than any other FMCG category, cosmetics shoppers want to identify with cosmetics brands. The brands that have been most responsive, building more inclusive product and messaging with a wider array of skin tones and colors, for example, are winning. In fact, the number of colors available on shelves in facial cosmetics alone has grown 22% over the last five years. This development growth has outpaced the general pace of new product development for cosmetics by 7x.


Given widespread mobile connectivity, it might come as no surprise that consumer spending on beauty products has shifted online faster and greater than nearly every other packaged goods category. In fact, nearly one in three dollars spent on beauty products in the U.S. today is spent online.

Americans spent over $12 billion on beauty and personal care products online over the last year. Notably, that $12 billion in spending represents 30% of dollars flowing through online channels, up from just 24% a year ago. That’s also the biggest shift among major FMCG categories.

This growth is built on the combined appeal of convenience attributes (replenishment services, subscription options, etc.) and myriad brand and product offerings on increasingly shoppable social platforms, fostering significant discovery options for choosy consumers.

To win in the future, brands will need to throw out their old playbooks. Consumers are as focused on the transparency of the company and their practices as they are on what goes into the products they make. The beauty brands—really all brands—that will be successful, will be authentic and true, flexible enough to be relevant to a wider array of consumers, and harness the digital tools and platforms to achieve this at scale.

For additional insights, download our Future of Beauty report or join our March 28 webinar.