Health, beauty and millions!
Since ancient times human beings have been closely linked and influenced by the concept of beauty. Although it is a subjective appraisal, which varies due to several reasons such as individual perception, cultural influence and time period, among many others; the truth is that every civilization has a beauty norm that defines certain characteristics that society considers “desirable or attractive.” Over time, a balance was achieved between beauty and health, making many things that we did to be healthier also bring us beauty, and many others that we did for simply flirting, also bring us physical well-being. This is how the cosmetics industry was born.
Although there is evidence that in ancient Egypt, balms, herbs, powders and other natural elements were used to achieve physical beautification, it was not until the 16th and 17th centuries that the first laboratories were created to process those natural elements in a more stable but still artisanal way. As we already imagined, massive industrialization would come a few centuries later, giving way to one of the most multi-million dollar industries in the world, which currently generates an average of $500 billion dollars a year and has driven the creation of huge conglomerates made up of the most prestigious brands in the sector, listed on the stock exchange.
Today, conglomerates such as Estee Lauder Companies (NYSE: EL), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and L’Oreal SA (BATS EU: OR) dominate the industry by absorbing small companies with great potential and established medium-sized companies. In the case of Loreal, for example, the bet is even riskier since just a few years ago, it acquired the Canadian company ModiFace, dedicated to the development of augmented reality and AI, to ensure that it has its own technology to develop its makeup simulation App.
This new L’Oreal SA (BATS EU: OR) bet is not an isolated case, as the cosmetics industry in general has had to mutate along with technological advances and solve challenges that decades ago were unimaginable. For example, current high-definition recording methods such as 4K and 8K have driven a paradigm shift in terms of facial makeup, as it was necessary to modify the colour range of cosmetics to be in line with a whole new variety of tones and unprecedented sharpness that we can now see through our screens.
Two other challenges facing the industry are also derived from technological advances, and paradoxically originate from opposite age groups. On the one hand, science has brought life expectancy up to a global average of 70 years, with more than 80 years in the most developed countries. This has led to the creation of a new line of “anti-aging” products for older people who have to deal with age-related deficiencies, such as loss of collagen and hydration.
On the other hand, we have the new generations, who have access to a large amount of information, understand the importance of leading a healthier life and present their demands to the industry to try to reverse some of its dark points, such as, the experimentation of cosmetics on animals or the use of chemicals that solve problems in the short term but have side effects in the medium and long term.
The great exposure of young people to social networks generated new aesthetic trends, such as K Beauty (a series of steps used in Korean cosmetology and later absorbed by the West), which led to the creation of a new series of products that adapted to this trend, using very striking packaging and natural herbs. Today, the Millennial generation uses an average of six cosmetic products a day, including body creams and perfumes.
Looking ahead, the growth of this industry seems to have no ceiling. It is estimated that next year, it will generate approximately $800 billion dollars. The rapidly increasing trend of men using cosmetics due to the longer life expectancy and the need of young people to feel more beautiful in-front of the cameras generated a cocktail that in a very short time, added millions of consumers to an industry that seemed reserved only for women of a narrow age range. If we add to these technological elements, such as the development of apps with artificial intelligence that in just seconds can show us how a new hair or lipstick colour would look, the time to make a purchase is shortened significantly since we can do it online, without having to go physically to test the products in-store.
In this way, and almost without realizing it, we all became increasingly active consumers of the cosmetics industry. The hectic pace of life we lead creates the need not to let our guard down and always perform to our maximum potential, and when it comes to working to achieve our goals, regardless of the area in which we work, we will always do it more efficiently if we feel beautiful and healthy.