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            17 / 02 / 17

            Innovation in beauty must go beyond product development

            • Beauty and the digital world are inextricably linked to one another. Just as #nomakeup is taking over in the social space, so too is there a shift within beauty to embrace the natural look, which places skin as the hero. Meeting consumer demand is more vital than ever for companies trying to retain a competitive edge. As the skin becomes more central, beauty brands are harnessing the latest skincare technology to create products with quasi-magical properties, which will make you look younger for longer, or claim to have bottled botox. But what is the cost of innovation? Is product development sufficient, or does the way that beauty brands engage with consumers need to shift too?

              In meeting this consumer demand, The Ordinary, Deciem: The Abnormal Beauty Company's new skincare brand, is challenging the existing assumption that luxury skin is a luxury. Brandon Truaxe, the company founder, passionately opposes industry inertia in which brands attach extortionate price tags to re-packaged, familiar ingredients that masquerade as revolutionary technologies. It is significantly named as it sells these effective ingredients at more ‘honourable’ prices; while Chanel’s Hydra Beauty Serum, containing Hyaluronic Acid (the holy grail of skincare) costs £59, The Ordinary sells their Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 for £5.90.

              In an increasingly competitive landscape, The Ordinary offers a powerful example of how brands must operate with transparency and integrity to secure consumer loyalty – selling 30,000 units in the first two weeks, it has also gained huge advocacy online, with many influencers feeling compelled to promote the range in unsponsored posts, brimming with optimism about how this company will revolutionise the beauty industry. #notsoordinary and #glowingskin are just two of the positive hashtags attached to the products.

            • The Deciem message also clearly resonates: ‘Beauty doesn’t rinse off’ and ‘Beauty is between you and you’ are company statements that have been played back to the brand by approving consumers online. As the industry shifts towards celebrating natural beauty, Deciem can legitimately champion this dialogue because consumers can appreciate that they are not offering empty promises.

              Deciem is about innovation, in both its product development, which is wholly scientific, and its consumer engagement, adopting an authentic, engaging and often humorous voice across its multiple platforms (their Instagram feed is populated with animated monkeys ‘employed’ at Deciem and accompanying monkey emojis). The company has successfully cultivated a multi-faceted online personality – it offers high-quality products, champions an honourable cause to empower women to feel beautiful, and provides light-hearted humour.

              The Ordinary range is not a gimmick. As the company seeks to expose innovation stagnancy in the industry, it benefits from both a positive brand image and the indirect attention it garners for its ground-breaking ranges, NIOD and Hylamide. Just as generic pharma bought a different angle to the industry, previously dominated and extorted by heavily branded products, we might very well witness The Ordinary transform the landscape of functional beauty, with its stripped back aesthetics and lack of of frills and fanciness – watch this space.

              Led by our Digital Forensics team, Pulse is a weekly series exploring online culture

              Image sources: London Beauty Queen and Imgrum

              • Article by Anna Wilmot