Indie Beauty Entrepreneurs Ponder The Long-Term Impacts Of COVID-19 On The Beauty Industry

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 16 brand founders and executives: What do you think the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be on the beauty industry?

Lisa Hunter Rasic Co-Founder, Ivy & Elder

On some counts, I am relieved that we are so new and small. Our fixed costs are significantly lower than they are for other brands further along the curve with greater distribution and overhead. On the other hand, these are some strong headwinds for our young business as we’ve only just launched.

Sadly, I expect a shakeout of indie brands and indie retail boutiques. For those who are able to weather the storm, a DTC and online selling strategy will become even more essential. Customers who weren’t buying beauty online before are being forced to build a new habit and comfort level. I think that will have a lasting impact. 

For retailers, exceptional in-store service and a differentiated experience will become even more important. I can’t wait to be shopping again at my favorites. That personal connection—trustworthy help and recommendations—is so important and will continue to be.

Annisa Davila Founder, Kitsune Beauty

The beauty industry is made of lots of small business owners and entrepreneurs. From independent beauty brands to hairstylists and aestheticians, we are all being hit hard during this global pandemic. In terms of long-term impact, the first thing that comes to mind is that having an e-commerce presence and active online community will become even more valuable than ever before. 

If your business currently relies on selling your goods in person or at trade shows, this time of social distancing can be especially devastating. Investing in creating an online shop and putting the effort into building an online community ensures that your business can not just stay open under any circumstances, but opens the doors to audiences that were unreachable before.

Christy Hall CEO and Founder, Mikel Kristi Skincare

The long-term impact of this massive hit on the economy will be felt by the beauty industry for years. I feel that the consumers will really look at where they spend their money and start to make decisions based on added value. Do I just buy any over-the-counter skin care product to try, or do I look for products that really deliver on the results they promise even if they cost a little more? Do I really need a facial or could I replicate that process at home using products that I know are healthy and beneficial for my skin? Consumers are going to become more aware and more educated on products and procedures that work to deliver the outcome they desire.

Christine Martey-Ochola Co-Founder, Nuele

One of the biggest crises that we're experiencing is the impact that this is having on ingredient sourcing and supply chains. Depending on how long the recovery of this pandemic takes, the beauty industry will experience a massive decline in the efficiency of supply chains, starting with ingredient sourcing. 

This will have a long-term reverberation that will create a higher barrier of entry for startups and make it more difficult for smaller brands to keep up with their supply to meet demand. Beauty suppliers will see a reduction in revenue due to closed retail outlets, and there will be a need to invest in significant business development to capture new markets.

Also, a broader range of people are using this time to educate themselves on better health practices and are searching for healthier products during this pandemic. With more attention on personal health and more people developing healthier habits, we believe that there will be an increase of consumers in the natural beauty industry.

Aly Klinger Founder, BeautyFul

I think the world will be such a different place once we are allowed to leave our houses. There will definitely be a surge of women, myself included, running as fast as we can to have spa days and get back to normal. First-world problems for sure, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Then, I think there will be a good segment of the consumer base who become really interested in becoming more proficient at doing more of their beauty rituals at home from things like maintaining hair color and extensions to home mani and pedis, and even working out outside the gym.

Probably, we can also expect some backlash against modern medicine as I think so many right now feel like medicine is failing us, so I anticipate an uptick in the consumption of dietary supplements and functional foods.

Valencia McClure Founder, The Artistry of Essential Oils

We are experiencing an increased interest from consumers in what they can do to maintain strong mental and physical health, naturally. For companies such as mine that offer a holistic approach to beauty and health, I'm seeing that consumers feel there is a need for both as part of their daily wellness. When individuals look good they feel good. I don't see that going away when the crisis passes. 

I do think that, following COVID-19, there will be more of a desire for natural beauty, even more so than what we are currently seeing today. The customer experience will be more important than ever before. How will the industry ensure customers have a personal experience/relationship with our brands through social media/email marketing?

Customers will be more educated on their brands than they are today. Customers have the time now to get creative and educated on their beauty regime which will continue but will have more of a back-to-basics mentality in how they approach their beauty and health.

Jamie Morea Co-Founder, Valentia

The current crisis has served as a call to action for wellness because nothing matters without it. We are what we consume. Being mindful of the kinds of products we use, what they’re made of, and how they make their way to us is an act of agency. 

Beauty consumers are now taking a good, hard look at the ingredients on their favorite products, how they affect their body’s largest organ, their skin, how they contribute to or deplete their microbiome, and how they align with the rest of their wellness routine.

Now more than ever, customers want to know that they’re buying into a brand that curates each and every product with real ingredients, standing proud in transparency from the production process to packaging and everything in between.  

Theodora Ntovas Founder, Yasou

None of us will be the same after we get through this. I think we will have a heightened awareness on how important self-care, physical wellness and even more so emotional wellness will become in returning to a sense of joy with health spearheading this feeling back to normal. Promoting emotional, mental and physical health with an overall sense of security will become forefront in aroma and overall benefits or rather properties in what brands are offering.  

I’m not sure if I’m articulating as well as I would like, but all that is happening around us right now is scary, tragic and has left us feeling insecure, sad and helpless. So, we will need to rebuild and promote joy, security and health to return to a good place again. In addition incentives, promotions and giveaways will become important since many people are going to be tight with money so this will help.

Teresa Norvell CEO and Founder, Intoxicating Beauty

Long term, the beauty industry will get through the COVID-19 crisis. Our industry has had a history of bouncing back after recessions and other financial downturns. However, it may not be easy. How quickly the beauty industry will bounce back will depend where you are in the industry.

Brands selling products will experience delays in replenishing their SKUs and launching new ones due to the disruption of the supply chain, lack of sourcing ingredients and packaging. Also, the cancellation of trade shows, expos, markets, conferences, etc., will have an impact on sales, brand awareness and trends. We are already feeling the impact of this.

Since many spas and salons have had to close so suddenly, beauty service workers such as aestheticians, hairstylists, nail techs, etc., may have the hardest impact. There may not be as many jobs available for them when things get back to normal. High-end beauty brands may also experience a long-term decline in sales due to the surge in unemployment.

But I’m optimistic about the long-term effect on our industry as a whole. Beauty customers can still be reached by selling products and services online. Brands can offer online events, chats, Instagram Stories, live streams, etc., to tell their story, educate and stay connected to their customers. Brands that are currently being sold in drugstores, grocery stores, Walmart, Target, etc., may see an increase in sales since these stores were opened during the crisis. They may even gain new customers who were forced to purchase new products at these stores if the other stores they usually shop at had to temporarily close.

Since this is a health crisis, brands who are selling hygiene products such as soap, hand and body wash, hand sanitizer, deodorant and toothpaste may have less of an impact, and could see an increase in sales. Once this crisis ends, customers may feel the need to purchase healthier and safer products, which could lead to an increased demand for clean beauty products. Also, since there’s been such a positive impact globally on the reduction of pollution due to our social distancing, sustainable beauty brands could be higher in demand too. 

Finally, I think self-care will be needed more than ever after we get through this. When our society is back up and running, I feel men and women will want to do things that will make them feel good and promote self-care to de-stress, even if it’s something as simple as taking a long bubble bath, putting on their favorite face mask or getting their nails done.

Joni Rogers-Kante Founder and CEO, SeneGence International

The brands of today must, in a way, reflect a lifestyle through moral expectations and contributions to the benefit of all who are involved in the development, manufacturing and use of the product. These are the conversations that are happening online and these are the brands of the future.

With so many people at home on their computers, beauty brands with products that work and have significant influencers representing their well-rounded products will become or remain the leading brands in the long term.

The savvy consumer wants to feel that whatever product they're spending money on will fulfill the claims advertised. Conversations about popular products are far more extensive and not limited to the product itself. “Well-rounded" means the product not only works, but it exceeds expectations in performance.

Additionally, consumers want their purchases to contribute to the benefit of society or advance a cause that is important to them. Products must be globally responsible, environmentally-safe and contain naturally recurring raw materials. The very soul of the company must be for a higher purpose: to help men and women support and care for their family, fulfill dreams without limitation, and offer flexible hours that allow one to fully enjoy family, travel [and] life. 

Stacia Guzzo CEO and Formulator, SmartyPits

I think it's anyone's guess right now what lies before us, but I do think that many brick-and-mortar locations may have a hard time recovering from this crisis. Brands may have to adjust their channels and marketing strategies as more business shifts to online sales. No matter what, I do think many businesses will see this as a pivotal turning point in their business.

Evelyne Nyairo Founder, Ellie Bianca

At the end of the year 2019, we sat down as a team and drafted our 2020-2021 fiscal year strategy. We identified our targets and set our goals accordingly. We had a sales planning meeting with our distributor, Purity life Health Products, in Mexico where we conveyed our strategy on how we would expand across Canada. We also met with our key retail partners and created our marketing and promo calendar, including key beauty events for the year. Internally, we developed a new product launch schedule for the products we would be launching in the course of the year.  

In February, we attended the Biofach/Vivaness trade show in Germany and, surely, we started to get excited about the potential of taking our brand across the world. We had also pegged some of our targets on external demos at our retail stores such as Whole Foods, Nature’s Fare and Blush Lane, among others, in a bid to engage with our clients. However, COVID-19 brought everything to a screeching halt. And, just like millions of other businesses, we had to stop. 

Perhaps this lockdown was the earth’s way of crying out for kindness. If you observe, you can see that the earth has been healing. Air pollution is slowing down due to limited air transport. Before, I was constantly on the go. Now, I have come to appreciate the little things like time with my cat, and I can see that, equally, my cat likes it when I am around. 

We haven’t sat back with our arms crossed. Instead, we went back to the drawing board and strategized on how we can be a part of the solution during this pandemic. We are proud to announce that we formulated an all-natural hand sanitizer that is kind to the skin that will be launching in the next few days to be on the forefront of fighting this disease.  

The pandemic has taught us to build deeper relationships. We have seen how our retail partners, our clients and distributors have rallied around us in a strong way. We foresee this being a change in how we do business. We are certainly optimistic that loyalty will grow out of this, and more businesses will become more supportive of each other. 

This crisis has taught us to be more sanitary. Consumers are now demanding more eco-friendly products. The beauty industry will have to bend to the needs of these consumers who are now becoming more health- and environmentally-conscious. We believe that this will change how the beauty industry operates post-corona. 

Moreover, this crisis has resulted in a drastic decrease in supply. This means that we aren’t able to manufacture as much. We have foreseen a new era where there is more space for minimal beauty, where one product can have multiple uses. This, in turn, will create a space to support conservation of the earth’s resources. And, through it all, we choose to remain strong and keep soldiering on and trusting the process.

Kevin Gould

Long term, beauty will hold strong and, particularly, e-commerce for beauty will be better than ever. We might see some softening in sales for prestige beauty depending on how the crisis continues as the affordable luxury market overall gets squeezed.

TANYA ZUCKERBROT CEO and Founder, F-Factor

I have increased the frequency of interacting with my followers on Instagram. Normally, I do an IG Live once a week. Now, I am doing them at least once a day to inspire my clients and followers to use this time to practice self-care. I have been filming cooking videos, motivational sessions, and providing tips to stay productive and positive while working from home.  

During times of uncertainty, people are looking for a calm, reassuring voice. We have seen that the brand’s positive messaging is having a positive impact on our customers. They are looking for tools and tips, along with inspiration and motivation which honor their intentions to look and feel their very best.

More than ever, people are concerned about staying healthy while self-quarantined. Our message is that, while many things happening outside of our homes feel out of control, you can control what you are putting in your body. We are encouraging people to honor themselves and use this time to be the best they can be.

Sébastien Tardif Co-Founder, Veil Cosmetics

The long-term impacts I foresee in the overall beauty industry are that even more people will now continue to shop online than ever, so brick-and-mortar beauty shops will see their piece of the pie shrinking even more rapidly than pre-pandemic. Consumers who might have felt uncomfortable with buying beauty online have had no other choice but to give it a go. And, like many people before them, once discovering how easy and pleasant it is to shop in the comfort and security of your home, there is simply no need to return to the hassle of battling the crowds and dealing with bad customer service to boot.

The online shopping experience will also improve post COVID-19 in terms of flexibility, exchange and returns, and even lower shopping minimums to obtain free shipping, further breaking down any barriers left. There is also a customer service adaptation that should be taking place to service a more mature client that might not have been online shopping before. This older client has different concerns and questions that might require a bit more patience and time on the customer service side of things, so anything to supersede these questions from the get go on the customer experience side of the website will be tweaked and implemented. All those jobs that were accomplished from an office or any types of customer service/marketing center will probably now continue being carried out from home, cutting down unnecessary overhead and expenses.

For those remaining brick-and-mortar beauty stores, there is no other choice but to provide higher hygiene standards, and to keep those tester units clean and guarded from airborne particles (coughing, sneezing etc.). Staff will also have to demonstrate high hygiene standards, and diligently sanitize their hands and brushes before conducting any makeup application or demo, or scandal will ensue.

Patricia Pao Founder, Restorsea

I think that the online business is going to be even bigger.  Brick and Mortar is for sampling and awareness.  But the pandemic has taught us that those with strong web based businesses and strong 3PL will be the ones who survive.

Restorsea is holding on because of its web business.  Our products are distributed primarily through physicians.  The pandemic has encouraged our physicians to adopt brand microsites.  These microsites are posted on their respective websites and/or shared with their patients.  The patients are able to order directly from the brand.  The brand is able to identify the physician responsible for the sale and provide the commission.

That being said, I think the consumer is going to be much more deal oriented.  In order to generate sales, we have had to run multiple promotions.  Prior to the pandemic, we only ran one promotion a year.

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