Unpacking the clean beauty movement with Bettina O'Neil

The U.S. vegan cosmetics market is expected to exceed $3.16 billion by 2025. In this webinar, we cover the clean beauty movement, who cares about it, where it’s going, how retailers are embracing this movement and how your brand can capitalize on it.

“Customers are smarter, they’re more educated, they want better health through eating or getting organic or clean. And they keep fit and healthy to feel younger.” says webinar co-host Bettina O’Neil. “And they definitely want to make sure that they’re not putting toxins on their skin.”

With a degree of from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Bettina’s former jobs include positions at Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, and Vincent Longo. At Barneys, Bettina increased revenue by fifty percent and helped grow stores from six to twenty locations.

Today, Bettina owns her own consulting firm named Bettina O’Neil and Associates. She consults brands on product assortment, branding, developing packaging, distribution and market positioning. Bettina is also the VP of US Sales for The Harmonist, a thriving perfume brand that is known for using precious natural ingredients to create signature fragrances.

There is no regulation on the term ‘clean beauty.’

The government does not have an official label or certification for clean beauty products, so it’s up to brands to decide what they want to represent. “The whole movement is shifting into subcategories like vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable and organic…you don’t have to be only certified organic or [only certified] vegan. You can really choose what resonates with you,” Bettina says.

Click the image on the right to view our on-demand webinar: Dirty Talk: Unpacking Clean Beauty with our own Sarah Adams and beauty industry expert Bettina O’Neil >>

Brands to look out for in the clean beauty category:

Tatcha cleansing grains: The founder invested in her unique brand of Geisha-style cleansing grains by selling her engagement ring. Tatcha is now a big deal at Sephora and QVC and has launched globally.

Herbivore: Starting on Etsy in 2011, they are now a leader at Sephora. Herbivore is a client of Askuity, and on track to see their revenues jump by over 100% next year. In Sephora North America, they’re moving from 50 end caps to 109 by the end of August 2018. They’re undergoing expansions both in North America and in Southeast Asia and the UK.

Other honorable mentions: Dr. Hauschka, Theodora, Goop, Drunk Elephant, and Credo. Notably, Credo started their very own clean Beauty Council that’s composed of industry experts. Click here to see all of the brands we mentioned in the webinar.

Key takeaways:

  • Brands that do well in clean beauty have both an effective product and integrity with their ingredients.
  • Brands must be passionate about clean beauty and what it stands for.
  • Retailers have made some big changes to accommodate profitable brands following the clean beauty movement.
  • The packaging has to stand out and the label must incite the customer to want to see your product – it must be easy to understand.

Retailers have taken notice, and are making room on their shelves for clean beauty products.

Sephora has made room for clean beauty with their Sephora Clean label. This label means that all brands with this seal are free of sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban.

Along with Sephora, Barney’s New York launched ‘Conscious Beauty’ in 2018. They created a new section of their website for consumers to find a wide range of clean beauty products. Bettina adds, “The icing on the cake is that they have it at Genes Cafe on Barney’s Madison Avenue. They serve different drinks using their ingestible products…so they’re tying it all together.”

When asked about the ways your brand can capitalize on the clean beauty movement, Bettina advises that your brand remains true to its DNA.

She says, “If you want to be clean, don’t do it because it’s the trend. You want to do because you really feel passionate…integrity and transparency are key.”

Bettina’s checklist for brands who want to launch and succeed at a beauty retailer:

   Be true to your brand

   Now is definitely the time

   Listen to buyer feedback and don’t get defensive…leave your ego at the door

  Have product samples and great packaging

  Educate consumers and about what ingredients you’re using

  Ensure that all ingredients and expiration dates are clear to customers

  Leverage social media to create and engage with clean beauty advocates

Click here to view the list with explanations. “It will be an investment if they want to get into a specialty retailer like Barney’s,” Bettina adds, “You need to know that you’re not going to make any money for a few years…know that eventually, you will make money because [it’s] a window to open other doors for you in other markets and other countries.”

In addition to marketing and positioning, POS analytics tools offer brands a way to test their products in different markets.

Having this data gives brands the chance to test product lines and determine which retailer has the right customer demographics for their products. Also, stocking and inventory reports allow brands to determine resource allocation and inventory levels.

Loyalty is high among cosmetics consumers so the first time someone notices a brand on the shelf, they definitely need to ensure the stock is there.

In conclusion, clean beauty is part of a wider consumer shift towards an awareness of product ingredients. Retailers have taken notice and made room for these profitable products, and there are some key things brands can do to ensure success in this exciting new category.