When COVID-19 hit, most industries were forced to adapt and make significant changes. The beauty industry was no exception. Before the pandemic, for example, many cosmetic consumers shopped for their beauty products in brick-and-mortar stores. Now, a lot of beauty purchases are made online. We have also seen the shift to a minimalist approach to beauty, focusing on skin health and wellness as a beauty regimen in lieu of a heavy makeup look with searches such as “minimalist makeup looks” and “foundation with sunscreen” trending still today.
All of these changes necessitate innovation. What many beauty brands forget, however, is that innovation and industry disruption begin with the manufacturer. If you are trying to innovate in the beauty space right now, it’s crucial for you to partner with a manufacturer that can help you develop new ideas based on changes in consumer demographics and behavior. Most importantly, your manufacturer should be able to respond to new trends with speed and agility — getting products to market despite supply-chain issues.
It can be easy to limit the involvement of your manufacturer based on preconceived notions. If you want to outperform competitors in the beauty industry, however, you need to shift your perspective and see them as a key industry partner that can help your brand innovate and adapt.
How Manufacturers Help Beauty Brands Innovate
If there is one key takeaway from how the pandemic has impacted the beauty industry, it is that today’s beauty buyers are more educated than ever before about the beauty products they consume and what they want from the companies they engage with. Gone are the days when customers purchased products for the sake of “looking great.” Modern consumers want to feel good about their purchases from the inside out, and they want products that make them look and feel their best. This is part of the reason we have seen so many beauty brands zeroing in on clean beauty.
One of the most important lessons you can learn as a beauty brand is that your manufacturer can either make or break your ability to effectively innovate. Manufacturers that have worked in the beauty industry for a long time can help brands identify new trends and produce products that align with those trends. Also, manufacturers can help brands keep a pulse on industry influencers and the conversations consumers are having that can inform the direction of your next move. Manufacturers touch more products across all brands, making them a great source of knowledge.
Considering the fact that innovation and newness represent 20-25% of all new growth each year, it’s crucial to partner with your manufacturer to drive innovation. Innovation builds revenue, improves brand recognition, and positions your brand to outperform competitors in a saturated market. If you don’t partner with your manufacturer in innovation, you risk falling behind in the market or, even worse, disappearing completely.
How to Choose an Innovative Beauty Manufacturer
If you are hoping to work with a manufacturer to innovate in today’s beauty marketplace, it can be difficult to know which qualities to prioritize in your search. After all, you need a manufacturer that is a good fit for your brand and can help you distribute products quickly to respond to consumer trends.
Here are some of the most important qualities to look for in your manufacturing partner:
- The manufacturer focuses on research and development.
If you are struggling to find new ways to innovate, you need a manufacturer that understands market research to identify opportunities for your brand. Manufacturers can help you with white space mapping to figure out customer needs that are not being met and help you develop products with those needs in mind. If your brand is not in a position to create new products, your manufacturer may be able to help you find ways to add innovation to your existing portfolio. Also, if you have seen a decline in business recently and want to uncover new ways to reach customers, your manufacturer can use custom formulation to innovate your brand’s collection and find the best way to move forward.
- The manufacturer prioritizes speed to launch.
How quickly your brand can respond to shifting trends largely depends on your manufacturer’s ability to help you create new products. If new trends develop and your brand can’t distribute a product to meet that trend, you will miss the innovation window. A true manufacturing partner can help equip your team with the tools to help you respond to trends, adapt your products, innovate, and create game-changing products that people will love.
- The manufacturer works outside of the “comfort zone” and stays open to new trends.
Your manufacturing partner should never be afraid to move outside of your brand’s comfort zone to discover new trends. In fact, one way to ensure that your brand stays relevant for a long time is to innovate when possible, especially if you have market research to support changes. Importantly, innovation doesn’t require you to create new products all the time. Rather, you can innovate by adding value to consumers through improved digital experiences, improving product packaging, or re-imagining a current product.
If you are hoping to reach more of your audience or find new ways to engage your customers in the beauty industry, start with your manufacturing partner. A manufacturer can help you innovate in new ways or find existing opportunities to disrupt the beauty industry. Once you find the right beauty manufacturer, your brand will be able to discover new trends, improve your products, and outperform competitors in a rapidly changing space.
Mark Wuttke is Chief Growth Officer at Cosmetic Solutions; founding Alumni Advisory Board member of the Global Wellness Summit; founding Beauty Initiative Chair of the Global Wellness Institute; founding editorial advisory board member of Organic Spa Magazine; and mentor and regular industry leadership speaker at Florida Gulf Coast University and Cornell University.