Why cosmetics brands are moving towards gender freedom (and how packaging can help them)
It’s time to drop the word ‘trend’ and realise that genderless beauty has become the norm in cosmetics. Celebrities, influencers and the general public, especially the younger generations, are adopting gender-fluid aesthetics that use clothes, hairstyles, makeup and other visual elements to celebrate self-expression and inclusivity.
It’s a global change. According to the Mintel report ‘The Next Genderation’, 53% of young Chinese women are growing to like gender-neutral clothes; more than half of Canadian men have used or want to use genderless beauty products; and 56% of UK consumers think diversity has become mandatory for beauty brands. Consumers’ expectations have influenced the launch of brands that celebrate neutrality, with public figures as Harry Styles, Fedez and Pharrell Williams as their founders and poster boys. They advertise everything from skincare to nail polish, all gender neutral.
According to Marcia Bardauil, Quadpack’s Market Insights Lead, these influencers are helping to engage a type of customer who used to be more difficult to access: males. “They open new possibilities just by being playful and authentic men, using makeup, nail polish or even showing their skincare routine.”
Big beauty players are investing in this promising market, either by partnering with gender-fluid icons such as fashion designer Harris Reed, as MAC did, or by acquiring successful brands, like Coty recently did with Orveda.
Packaging is key
Beauty packaging has an essential role to play in helping brands navigate through this new scenario. Skincare, makeup and fragrance ranges are increasingly presented with genderless branding, designed to appeal to men and women equally. Packs with clean lines and simple shapes, which are practical and sustainable, are the most popular among these brands, while decoration is key to transmit gender neutrality. Male grooming collections, for instance, are losing the ‘macho’ aura and incorporating more skincare and makeup products, colourful decoration and fun messaging.
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