From ‘aspirational’ to ‘inspirational.’
The majority of people who would like to see diversity in beauty/grooming advertising say they feel this way because it “reflects real life” (68%) and “shows that there are different ways to be beautiful" (56%). What’s more, almost half (47%) of beauty consumers say they have looked for/bought from brands with diversity or inclusivity in the last year and a quarter (24%) have shopped with beauty brands that are minority owned.
Indicating further desire for change among beauty brands, almost three-quarters of adults agree the beauty industry plays on women’s insecurities (73%) and society’s idea of beauty is too rigidly defined (72%). This points to opportunities for beauty brands to evolve away from these negative perceptions by inspiring and empowering consumers.
“Beauty marketing is increasingly shifting from ‘aspirational’ to ‘inspirational.’ Successful brands recognize that demonstrating a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion - whether through employment, advertising and/or product development - helps drive inspiration and empowerment,” said Clare Hennigan, Senior Beauty and Personal Care Analyst, at Mintel. “Brands have the opportunity to make a real impact by integrating different types of beauty diversity in a way, and at a place and time, that is truly authentic to them. For example, waiting until Pride Month in June to promote gender-neutral products could be perceived as a marketing stunt instead of a brand value. Brands that stand to win are the ones who have committed to diversity as an ongoing practice and genuinely listen to their audience to determine how those efforts are perceived.”
Perceptions of diversity vary
However, understanding consumer perception of beauty inclusivity is complicated and nuanced, notes Mintel.
Indeed, half (52%) of consumers who use beauty products say affordable products indicate that a brand is inclusive, while 48% say a wide range of shades makes a brand inclusive. Two-fifths (39%) feel that when brands represent diverse groups in advertising that makes them inclusive. But inclusivity indicators also vary by life stage. For example, 55% of Baby Boomers  say brands with products that meet a variety of age-related needs are inclusive, while only 32% of Gen Z  agree. And 40% of Gen Z think brands that offer gender neutral products are inclusive compared to only 25% of Baby Boomers.
When consumers consider whether or not a beauty brand is inclusive, it is heavily dictated by whether the brand satisfies the consumer’s own needs - how accessible the brand is to them personally - underlining the importance of understanding core audience values and needs. “This approach has led to some brands developing hyper-personalized, inclusive products like the L’Oréal Perso, which is said to launch in 2021 and uses AI to create personalized skincare formulas. At the same time, other brands are exploring inclusivity through a minimalist or universal approach. Skincare brand Humanrace markets itself as ‘suitable for all humans.’ Whatever the approach, brands that are able to align their inclusivity efforts with the needs and expectations of their target audience will have greater commercial success,” concluded Hennigan.