While they innovate, indie brands are expected to remain the targets of growth-seeking beauty giants. - Photo: Biglike Images / © shutterstock.com

"In the digital era, make-up brands have been confronted with a paradigm shift," said Nicolas Cordier, CEO of Make Up For Ever in a speech at the inauguration of Strand Cosmetics Europe’s new production site. "These new brands have successfully established a more direct link with consumers, and the revolution continues with the rise of DTC Brands – such as Kylie Cosmetics - which sell directly and only to consumers."

Newly-launched brands, such as Kylie Cosmetics and Huda Beauty, gain momentum by recording triple-digit and quadruple-digit growth rates, confirms market research firm Kline in the recently published second edition of the Beauty’s Most Buyable Brands: Analysis of Booming Independent Brands in the United States report. Indeed, Kylie Cosmetics is expected to make more than US$ 400 million in sales only through its website.

Brands focusing on makeup, such as ColourPop, Gerard Cosmetics, and Dose of Colors, lead the rankings of social popularity due to the aesthetically-pleasing content they provide and their unique product offerings. However, indies make waves across various categories from natural concepts from Tata Harper and Coola Suncare, to male grooming provided by Brickell and Bevel, to gender-free makeup provided by Milk Makeup.

Millennials and Generation Z are a crucial marketing demographic for the indies,” comments Naira Aslanian, Project Manager at Kline. “These innovators resonate with experimental consumers who are searching for the next best product or ingredient to bring out their individualism and uniqueness. With so many choices out there, the tech-savvy generations look for tutorials, tips, and reviews to help them make decisions about trends, brands, and even ingredients. Indies’ digital prowess, combined with the fine-tuned focus from beauty products that cater to consumers’ personalized needs, results in some of them growing three to five times the rate of the market.

To build close connections with their consumers, these brands utilize innovative and often low cost strategies. For instance, they transform their admirers into stars: Say Hello To Sexy Legs regularly reposts content from its fans who feature its products in photos. Some go as far as asking consumers to create products alongside the company, such as ColourPop, which virtually invites millions of fans into its lab as product development specialists to inspire the creation of new products.

Several trend-setting retailers, including Sephora, Ulta, Bluemercury, Target, and Urban Outfitters, take notice of the heightened consumer interest and give these brands a louder voice and broader reach by bringing them to their shelves and websites. In 2016, a brand like Say Hello To Sexy Legs launched in the market and entered QVC and Sephora in the same year.

According to Kline, these disruptors are expected to continue innovating with their products, packaging, and design, appealing to the generations that are open and receptive to new ideas and concepts. While they innovate, they are expected to remain the targets of growth-seeking beauty giants.