Beauty is increasingly trend-driven, and Asia continues to dictate trends, providing strong competition for traditional European luxury brands. But as global consumer preferences change, established luxury beauty brands are regaining ground.

Asia sets the beauty trend…

Snail creams, rubber masks and glass skin are just some of the bizarre-sounding trends that have emerged from the Korean beauty scene, their miraculous effects hyped on social media, and inspiring dozens of copycat products around the world. Sheet masks, another trend fostered in Korea, are now a key part of most beauty brands, and this product sector alone is expected to be worth $8.8 billion by 2021, according to Euromonitor International.

Even in France, arguably the home of premium beauty, women are not immune to the K-beauty trend, with Asian-inspired beauty driving growth in the sector. Masks and skincare patches have grown 78% between 2017 and 2018, while sales of clay and mud masks have increased 43%, according to the NPD Group.

While Korean beauty brands and innovations have been driving the beauty industry for several years, J-beauty brands are increasing in sales and visibility in China, according to L2. Nikkei reports that exports of Japanese beauty were estimated to exceed $2.75 billion for the first time in 2017, with 90% of those products destined for other Asian countries.

…while European brands still grow

Trend-led products, like those offered by emerging Korean beauty brands – as well as those from the US and Europe, such as Glossier and Kylie Cosmetics, will continue to appeal to young beauty consumers. However, there is still a strong appetite for European brands in the luxury category. French fashion brands Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior are still in the top 10 of fastest-growing luxury beauty companies, according to analysts at Euromonitor International.

To attract young beauty consumers who may be less familiar with their prowess, French brands are changing tack. YSL Beaute recently launched a pop-up store in New York, which focused on the brand’s much-loved lipstick formulas, a clever move to attract locals and Globe Shoppers alike, given that lipstick is a major growth area in Asia . The store featured black lacquered walls with instagram-friendly neon signage, a DJ and regular appearances from social media influencers. The store also included an engraving station, where shoppers could personalise their purchase, a service which proved hugely popular with millennials.

Harrods in London is another example of how Europe is upping its beauty game; the store has commenced a £200m revamp, which will see its beauty department double in size. In addition, it is creating ‘magical experiences’ for its millennial customer base, for example by enlisting the support of influencers such as Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist who to give live demonstrations to shoppers on how to ‘get-the-look’.

How can Europe’s beauty scene pull in an international audience?

Beauty continues to be a key category for Globe Shoppers. According to Kantar, over 100m Chinese consumers bought beauty products while abroad last year.

To attract Globe Shoppers, some European brands are creating exclusive regional collections, which can only be bought in their European flagship stores, while others play on social media hype. Chanel Beauty releases its most talked-about products at its Paris flagship store a month earlier than the rest of its global stores, so that travellers can stay ahead of trends.

Providing a relevant experience befitting of the dynamic beauty market is also key; from innovative native marketing solutions to immersive brand experiences offered by its network of VIP lounges – Global Blue is continuously developing innovative solutions to help European brands meet the expectations of this key Globe Shopper‘Globe Shopper’ is a term coined by Global Blue to descr... More market.