Cosmetic brands will use innovation and partnerships to gain an edge in this competitive market. As part of this process, they will be increasing their advertising and media spend, or will seek new agency partners.

Marks and Spencer Beauty

M&S Beauty aims to become more relevant to its customers more often through its exclusive own-brand products and complimentary third-party brands. From this summer, around 500 Clinique products for both women and men will be available to purchase on M& The high street retailer will also be introducing a "bespoke" in-store offering across 34 destination stores across the UK.

Stores will also house a Clinique counter with experts on hand, while a further 40 stores will display products in a customised Clinique fixture, including in menswear sections. With only 15% of its customers shopping with M&S for beauty, the company has a great opportunity to grow sales within its own broad customer base, especially given customer loyalty to beauty products is so high.

To grow, M&S Beauty is making the big, bigger. Apothecary, M&S’s wellness range launched in 2019, has become one of its best and fastest-selling ranges. It is already worth more than £20m and M&S will expand its product lines later this year. The business is also innovating to create more sustainable eco-friendly products such as Pure, its own-brand skincare range made with 95% natural ingredients. Pure, launched a few years ago, now offers 18 products.

M&S Beauty is changing at pace as new products and brands come on board to improve relevance for its customers.


The company is entering the world of make-up with the launch of Farfetch Beauty, its own beauty marketplace. The platform offers over 100 different names, from powerhouse luxury names to indie brands including Chanel, Tom Ford, Charlotte Tilbury and Off-White’s very first fragrance ‘PAPERWORK.’

The launch coincides with the wider Farfetch group’s existing beauty offerings of Browns, Off-White, and Violet Grey which it acquired at the start of the year. The offering covers skincare, make-up, hair, fragrance, wellbeing and bath and body, and is aimed at serving customers across “all ages, races, cultures and genders.”

Farfetch’s Chief Brand Officer Holli Rogers said: “We took this as an opportunity to shake up the online beauty retail experience by bridging fashion and beauty to appeal to our existing audience of fashion lovers.We knew we had to offer beauty in an ‘only on Farfetch’ way, combining our know-how in bringing together a diverse community of expert voices that resonate with the modern beauty customer and their needs.”

Alongside the new beauty platform, Farfetch is also finding new ways to engage with customers virtually. To do this, the company has formed a Beauty Global Collective – a social network where brand founders, industry experts, creatives and visionaries can connect and engage.


Struggling for years due to a heavy debt load, leveraging off its almost century-old heritage and settling into an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset whilst faced with changing consumer tastes and intense competition; and most recently from celebrity launches like Kylie Jenner’s, Kylie Cosmetics. Revlon's problems only intensified with the pandemic hurting lipstick sales as people masked up. Sales fell by 21% to $1.9 billion in 2020 and the company avoided bankruptcy late last year.

Revlon is in the midst of a major transformation. It is diversifying its management team, streamlining workflow to make the company nimbler and more closely aligned to the consumer, and leveraging digital to bring a true omnichannel experience to its customers around the world

Back in 2018, e-commerce sales at Revlon were in the low single digits. Today, that number has increased to 20%. Sales over the past two years alone have increased by almost $100 million; a direct result of its CEO Debbie Perelman’s commitment to a true omnichannel approach and company-wide digital transformation to merge consumers’ online and offline experiences. The company now offers live-selling, one-on-one beauty consultations both online and in-store, and in-store interactive tools to help customers find their perfect shade or skin care fragrance.

The beauty brand hasn’t called a major agency review for its creative or media planning and buying strategy in 4 years. As the company develops a multi-channel strategy, it will need agency partners which can help create integrated campaigns that will drive D2C sales.

Wild Cosmetics

Launched in 2019, Wild Cosmetics was the UK’s first direct-to-consumer design-led, refillable natural deodorant brand. With a digital first model, Wild was able to buck the pandemic and grow by a staggering 4000% over the last 12 months to reach 150,000 customers while selling 750,000 biodegradable deodorants in the process.

The company appointed BBH London as its advertising agency without a formal pitch process in February; and in the same month announced it had raised £5m in funding to help grow its plastic and unnecessary chemical-free toiletries business.  The investment will help with the business' overseas expansion and its venture into other areas of the personal care category beyond deodorant. Wild is also working towards acquiring B Corp certification.

Last year, it struck deals with Sainsbury’s, Boots and Selfridges to be its retail partners. Freddy Ward, founder of Wild Cosmetics, sees the latest retail tie-ups as an important part of the brand’s overall mission to remove single-use plastics and unnecessary chemicals from bathrooms.

Ward also says that the company’s long-term goal is to expand both online and offline into the EMEA region, in particular France, the Netherlands, Germany and the Nordic countries, because these markets are “sustainably conscious”. He said: “Wild wants to be a multi-channel, multi-product, multi-territory business. So we want to be pretty global in three to five years.” According to him, expansion will also involve stretching beyond deodorants and into hand soap, shower gel and shampoo.

Very Group

In response to the growing demand for wellbeing products, Very has expanded its range of beauty and self-care brands by 94% since the start of the pandemic. Since January 2020, the online retail company has added 77 new beauty and personal care brands to its portfolio, taking the category total to 159. This could signal the appointment of a new media planning/buying and digital specialist as the online retailer has also announced plans to transform the technology behind its e-commerce platform to “significantly improve customer experience”.

Demand for products that help Very customers look and feel their best has also expanded beyond beauty. Last Christmas, Very’s wearable technology sales grew by 30% compared to the corresponding period in 2019, prior to the pandemic. Very plans to launch further high-profile brands over the coming months to offer its 3.8 million customers self-care and wellbeing offers online.

The group’s trading director Victoria Aldrich said: “Self-care isn’t going anywhere, which is why we’re in discussions to bring even more leading and pioneering brands to Very to help our customers feel fantastic whatever this year brings.”

In the last 8 years, the group has never spent less than £15m on advertising across all channels. Spend usually plummets in Q1 before rising in Q2 and Q3, and spiking for the retailer’s Christmas campaigns. With so many new products launching this year, Very’s annual budget will be at an all-time high.

Market trends

Demand for cosmetic products has grown thanks to social media and influencers promoting specific products in an authentic way. This could be turbo-charged by a proposed government bill – the Digitally Altered Body Image Bill – which would force social media stars to highlight when their content has been filtered.

According to John Lewis’ Beauty Bets report, consumers will continue to experiment with beauty products post-pandemic with gift boxes, discovery boxes and advent calendars becoming key to exploring luxury brands. Customers want to create a ‘fragrance wardrobe’ to suit different occasions and their own bespoke scent. In make-up, shoppers will go for bold looks with lipsticks, lipliners and eyebrow products increasing in popularity.

Customers are looking to multi-use beauty products more and more. With the skincare industry already an expert in this field, haircare and cosmetics are set to follow suit. Wellbeing in beauty will become a 24-hour regime, with items such as pillow mists becoming part of the overall self-care experience. Consumers will also look to shop with brands that help them minimise their impact on the planet.

Avon, the traditional doorstop sales business, has plans to become completely ‘omni-channel’ over the next three years, after its online sales contacts database grew from 10% to 30% during the pandemic. Avon reps will continue to be key to continue to offer a personal service, whether it is through online sales, managing small boutiques or creating outlets in department stores.

Lush has recently acquired its US partner and pledged to invest in rebuilding its British operations which were hit hard during the pandemic. It is also planning to further raise prices in the UK, having already done so before Christmas.

Benefit Cosmetics is offering UK consumers the change to buy limited edition beauty goods via its Buh-Buy store, a permanent outlet section on its website dedicated to secret flash sales and ‘last chance to buy’ products. This initiative also helps tackle waste.

Space NK rolled out its first campaign in a decade in June last year, after its sale for the year ending 27 March 2021 fell by 11% due to the impact of the pandemic on its retail stores. 2022 looks to see the business bounce back with it signing as the exclusive seller of Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty brand in the UK, the launch of an in-store recycling scheme, becoming Walmart’s in-store beauty supplier, and the appointment of an events and partnerships coordinator.

Fragrance Direct, the online perfume business, has just undergone an overhaul after it was acquired by Maximo Group in March 2021. It has a new website and visual identity and is aiming to widen its appeal by introducing home fragrances and candles. Its CEO said: Our ambition is for Fragrance Direct to become the online home for fragrance, and we will continue to expand and sell the most complete range of fragrance products from the best-selling popular brands to niche, trending and undiscovered brands, all within an improved and competitively priced ecommerce environment.”

Sephora, which exited the UK retail market in 2005, is speculated to make a return after it acquired online beauty retailer Feelunique. According to Sephora’s president and chief executive Martin Brok, the Feelunique purchase was a key step in Sephora’s European growth strategy and marks a first step for Sephora’s presence into the UK”.

Product Launches

L'Oréal is to launch Colorsonic, a lightweight handheld device designed to mix and apply hair colour for consistent results. Coty has started producing the world's first globally distributed fragrances made using carbon-captured ethanol; and TRINNY London made its skincare debut with the launch of two new cleansers before adding three liquid exfoliants to its range.

Next launched in-house skincare brand name WOAH. The brand has been developed by Next in collaboration with a leading UK skincare development laboratory and manufacturer. It uses active and essential ingredients such as Hyaluronic acid, peptides and rose water. WOAH has been formulated to work on most skin types and launches with a range of 16 vegan products. 

Boohoo unveiled its first-ever beauty collection. The new vegan beauty collection comprises 50 products and accessories. The fast-fashion retail group's new 100% cruelty-free collection features products "for every #boohoobade" across brows, lips, eyes and face. Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, aloe, coconut oil and botanical extracts produced to be lightweight, water-resistance and transfer-proof. 

Charlotte Tilbury has announced a collaboration with supermodel Twiggy for the launch of her NEW! PILLOW TALK PARTYcollection. It has also joined the Metaverse through Obsess, an Augmented and Virtual Reality software platform dedicated to experiential shopping. The company’s proprietary technology enables brands and retailers to serve 3D 360 shopping experiences on their websites, mobile apps and social channels via its 3D Commerce Cloud.

Agency Appointments

Kiehl’s, YSL Beauty, John Frieda, new Kao haircare brand Wakati, Charles Worthington, St. Tropez, Cloud Nine, Vichy and It Cosmetics are among beauty brands which have already appointed new agencies so far this year.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Beiersdorf has agreed to acquire Chantecaille Beaute; L'Occitane Group has acquired majority control in cosmeceutical, clean skincare brand Grown Alchemist; and Dolce & Gabbana is bringing its £403m wholesale beauty business in-house as part of a plan to diversify its revenue streams beyond fashion. It also plans to expand its range of colour cosmetics and enter the skin care market.


Estée Lauder became Dancing on Ice's first ever beauty partner; OGX signed up to sponsor Channel 4’s the Language of Love; M&S launched a collaboration with Clinique; L'Oréal partnered with global neurotech leader Emotiv to launch a new device to help consumers personalise their fragrance choices; and KVD Beauty signed up Paris Jackson as its brand ambassador.


In haircare

Kao appointed a Communications Manager and Coty named a PR Assistant for ghd.

Estée Lauder appointed an Assistant Communications & Influencer Manager for Estée Lauder and Aerin. Estée Lauder Companies appointed a Communications and Marketing Assistant across Aveda, Bumble and bumble, and Origins.

Puig's Global Group Head of Communications & Marketing departed to join end of season fashion platform Otrium as Global Brand lLead.

Shisheido appointed a Communications & Digital Engagement Assistant for designer fragrances who will work across Dolce&Gabbana Beauty, Narcisco Rodriguez Parfums, Issey Miyake Parfums, and Serge Lutens Parfums & Colour Cosmetics. The group also hired a Senior Communications & Digital Engagement manager for Shiseido and Cle de Peau.

L’Oréal appointed a Senior Digital Engagement and Communications Manager for Redken and an Assistant Digital Engagement & Communications Manager for Kérastase and shu uemura art of hair. It also named a Senior Communications Manager for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté.

L'Oréal Professionnel hired an Assistant Communications Manager across haircare brands Kérastase, L'Oréal Professionnel, Matrix and Redken.

Molton Brown hired a Senior Global Brand and Product Development Manager.

The Body Shop hired a New Managing Director for UK & Ireland.

In fragrance

Parfums Christian Dior hired an Assistant Social & Digital Communications Manager.

Coty hired an Influencer Marketing & PR assistant for Burberry Fragrances and Make Up, Gucci Fragrances.

In cosmetics

LOOKFANTASTIC appointed an Influencer Marketing Executive.

Charlotte Tilbury named a Global Senior Social Media Manager.

Aspects Beauty Company named its Head of Marketing for Beauty & Wellness.

In skincare

Clarins appointed its Head of Digital Media & Virtual Engagement.

Kiehl's hired a Communications Manager

Caudalie UK selects Head of PR

RitualsHead of Marketing for the UK & Ireland returned from maternity leave.

TRINNY LONDON named a Lifecycle Marketing Manager.


By Natalie Fedden

Senior Content Executive, ALF

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