The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected multiple industries: tourism, aviation, fashion, and wedding to name a few and the beauty industry is no different. Both cosmetic retailers and beauty service workers are facing unprecedented challenges in keeping their businesses running as usual. People are terrified to venture into a salon, leaving owners with little choice but to shut down, further leading to hairstylists, makeup artists and service providers without jobs. During the lockdown, malls and retail outlets were closed leaving all the front desk managers and shop assistants temporarily without work.
As a result, it's becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic will leave a longlasting impact on the billion-dollar industry.
Consumer patterns themselves have shifted towards skincare and hygiene products from makeup. "At an overall level, there is a shift to hygiene, for obvious reasons. In the context of beauty – we see an increase in usage of skin cleansing and skincare. As the socializing occasions have reduced, we do see a drop in usage of makeup products but as the lockdown lifts up and people begin to step out again, we expect that to pick up", says Kavita Angre, Director of Consumer and Marketing Insights, L’Oréal India.
She even added that hair product usage did not decline and people continued to colour their hair just as much during the quarantine. Well, that explains why my Instagram feed is full of people experimenting with unique shades on their tresses after binge-watching YouTube tutorials at 3 AM.
Another trend being observed is that consumers are cleaning their hands more often (as they absolutely should) and doing household chores like dishes etc- all of this is leading to increased dryness of the skin. So, hand care products have seen a sharp spike in the market.
Consumers are also now looking at long-term solutions for skincare producers as well as grooming services. Since the lockdown started and kept getting extended, we saw a hoard of people talking about how body hair has returned to places they forgot existed, and for the same reason treatments like laser hair removal will see a rise.
"If this lockdown has taught us anything, it is the need for more long-term solutions especially when it comes to grooming. We are expecting to see an uptick in laser hair reduction services post-lockdown. Almost 60% of people have responded positively to this and 21% have shown a keen interest in availing brightening services once restrictions become a bit lax", chimes in Rajiv Nair, Group CEO at Kaya Ltd.
Dr Kiran Lohia from Isya Derm also adds, "People will want long-lasting results from procedures for their skin. Monthly facials for targetted corners are what they will gravitate towards. Makeup will be taking a backseat and the focal point will be making their skin look better. Microneedling facials and laser facials along with energy-based tightening will become the norm as well as laser hair removal procedures."
The beauty industry has seen exponential growth thanks to the digital boom with consumers becoming aware of what they want, understand their personal needs, and have an interest in purchasing quality products. Thanks to influencers shooting videos from their bedrooms, we have a highly-engaged audience, who actually read the small-print formulas and know the difference between retinol and retinoids.
The pandemic has only strengthened how much the beauty industry relies on the digital medium. "Online and web consultation sessions with clients have proved to be a huge success because people can now get customized solutions without having to step out of their houses", says Rajiv Nair.
E-commerce is another sector that will boom post-COVID-19 with direct-to-consumer e-commerce, such as brand websites, shoppable social-media platforms, and marketplaces becoming more important, as per a McKinsey report. Globally, online engagement and spending have increased and hence brands will need to prioritize digital channels to capture and convert the attention of existing and new customers.
The reason the beauty industry is going to see long-term impacts due to the coronavirus pandemic is that people are now going to question whether salons are the most hygienic or safest places to be. They're going to be cautious about their intimate experiences with their beauty professionals. We're already seeing people give themselves (almost professional-looking) haircuts and mani-pedis at home even though salons have opened up and are dedicated to taking all safety precautions recommended by the government.
"To ensure a seamless salon experience on re-opening, we have appointed a JCB Special Task Force especially to overlook the new safety rules, operational changes, and superior hygiene standards. We have collectively spent immeasurable hours to turn our salons into a new beauty fortress that is safe, secure, and in accordance with the government rules and regulations", says Samir Srivastav, CEO JCB Salons.
"We have partnered with the best in the industry to source industry-approved PPE gear including masks, capes, gloves, and shoe covers which will be provided to all our clients and employees. Deep disinfection of high-touch points, tools & equipment, mandatory temperature/health checks, use of Arogya Setu App, reduced appointments to avoid over-crowding are some of the other key mandates we are adhering too", he adds.
"With the gradual reopening of services and salons, we have understood that many salons might be overwhelmed with the preparation and safety expectations, so we've got hygiene guidelines to help them. There will be safer operating procedures; including hand cleansing, tool disinfecting, reorganization of salons to space out appointments, and minimizing contact payments, all to ensure the social distancing requirements. We are also helping them exceed the usual safety and sanitary measures and keep themselves and clients safe by supplying masks, hand sanitizers alongside the new operating guidelines", says Angre from L’Oréal India.
At the end of the day, the beauty industry thrives on people wanting to look and feel their gorgeous best: that is never going to change. Whether that is from learning how to thread one's own eyebrows or shifting from trendy makeup to more long-lasting skin treatments, the industry itself has been there for a thousand years and will continue to stay on for years to come. While it may need to adapt itself to the new normal and to the revamped customer needs, humans and industries alike have adapted in the past and will still do so.
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