Google "Glossier" and you'll be met with a bunch of brands that are not, in fact, Glossier, but easily could be. There's Glow Recipe, whose pink-hued watermelon products evoke Glossier's famous packaging, and Milk Makeup, whose minimalist aesthetic was first championed on a large scale by Emily Weiss's beloved brand when it launched in 2014. Throw in like-minded products from buzzy brands like Winky Lux and Drunk Elephant, and it's undeniable that Glossier has made a mark on the beauty industry, however subconscious that mark may be.
Still, Glossier's youthful, millennial-pink positioning — and that of its aesthetically similar contemporaries — is not for everyone. Where it succeeds with teenagers, college students and post-grads, it can fail to resonate with women in their late 20s and early-to-mid 30s, who are increasingly opting for more streamlined, natural-leaning brands that focus less on the #girlgang and more on skin health and preventative anti-aging.
"Today, you see so many brands that have copied the very pink, millennial-centric Glossier model and that has created a pendulum swing towards more socially-conscious brands that focus on clean beauty and the environment," says Cecilia Gates, the founder of Gates Creative, an agency that works with beauty brands like Cover FX and Kora Organics.
In Glossier's wake, a host of other brands have cropped up to cater to this slightly older demographic. This cohort includes Indie Lee, Peet Rivko, May Lindstrom, Circumference NYC and Susanne Kaufmann — brands you're more likely to find in specialty boutiques or on heavily curated websites like Net-a-Porter than in mass-market chains and department stores. Older entrants like Eve Lom and Tata Harper who paved the way for these brands are now widely known.
Central to these brands is skin care, more than makeup — a reality which isn't surprising, given the extra attention that the category has received over the last year. The market is expected to cross $130 billion in sales by early next year, according to Euromonitor.
"Skin care has long operated in two extremes, with anti-acne on one side and anti-aging on the other, so we're targeting this middle ground that's been neglected by the industry thus far," explains Chris Kim, the co-founder of Circumference NYC.
Maria Campitiello, the store manager of Cos Bar at Brookfield Place in New York City, has witnessed this growing need up close. "These women are interested in optimizing skin's functions and maintaining smooth, supple, radiant skin for as long as possible," she says.
Contributing to this is the fact that women today are more educated than ever before about just how to achieve that, thanks to the myriad skin-care resources at their fingertips online, from blogs to social media.
"Most consumers today do their homework, but there's an especially strong move toward natural products and health and wellbeing-centric brands, with women in their late 20s to mid-30s," says David Olsen, the CEO of the luxury beauty chain Cos Bar. "They're at an age where educating themselves about products feels more important."
The shopping trends and date at Net-a-Porter back this up, according to the company's Beauty Director Newby Hands. Although 95 percent of the site's customers prefer to shop for beauty online, younger shoppers appear to purchase more impulsively compared to those in their late 20s and 30s, who generally take extra time to do their research on ingredients, she says.
Many of these post-Glossier brands fall into the same minimalist design category as the Boy Brow purveyor, but their packaging takes a more ageless route, replacing youthful colors with neutral tones and less tongue-in-cheek, colloquial copy. Achieving this elevated, more mature look was a priority for Kim when conceptualizing Circumference with his wife Jina last year: All of its products are sold in glass bottles labeled with a small, classic font evocative of Times New Roman.
"At the end of the day, how many millennial pink products can you own before feeling like they're not really made for you?" he jokes.
Johanna Peet, who founded her natural sensitive skin-care line Peet Rivko last year, had similar goals when developing its simple black-and-white packaging: "Like a white T-shirt and jeans, the brand is supposed to be your basics line," she explains.
In keeping with the sophisticated branding, each of these ranges also emphasizes simplicity, with tightly curated edits of products. They're dominated by a less-is-more philosophy.
"Keeping things streamlined is more important to this category of women who have spent a lot of time experimenting and been told by dermatologists that less is more," argues Peet, who notes that beauty editors in particular love her line for re-setting their skin after too much freebie-induced trial and error resulting from piling on product samples.
Campitiello of Cos Bar agrees: "These women want limited SKUs, so there is not a lot of layering and no redundancy." Time, they may have found, is better spent elsewhere.
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