This skincare ingredient is about to explode, according to an industry expert
12th Jun 2019
Beauty is one of the fastest-moving industries in the world. There’s a constant stream of innovation, be it in the form of delivery systems, raw materials, packaging, product textures, trends, or buzzy ingredients. Jane Anders, the senior vice president of R&D, product development and packaging development at Estée Lauder Companies APAC, is a woman who knows this all too well.
Having worked for one of the world’s biggest beauty brands for over six years, Anders has seen it all – from micro trends, to the upheaval of the industry in terms of transparency, diversity, and inclusivity. Anders will be delivering a keynote speech at this year’s 2019 Vogue Codes Sydney Summit on the science of beauty, outlining her views on innovation, inspiration, and being a woman in STEM. However as a pre-cursor, we sat down with Anders to pick her brain about her career path (she started in food, FYI), and all of the trends we can expect to see in the coming months. Hint: cherry blossoms, extraordinary skin, and virtual makeup play are all on the horizon.
So how did you get into beauty?
“I started out with a degree in chemical engineering. While most people completing my major went to work for oil companies, I was much more interested in consumer goods. I joined Proctor and Gamble straight out of college, and later did an MBA in marketing to really ground my knowledge of the consumer (and of business).
Both experiences helped me understand how a company works and increased my appreciation for focusing on the consumer. Prior to joining The Estée Lauder Companies, I worked for a food company. It seems like a world away from prestige beauty, but it actually deepened my understanding and appreciation of the way ingredients work together to create magic, as well as supporting my holistic consumer view.”
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What was the catalyst for switching from food to beauty?
“I really enjoyed my role in the food company and wasn’t ready to leave. I actually got a call from the head of innovation at The Estée Lauder Companies – I was flattered but the timing wasn’t right. However, after deliberating for several weeks, I decided to talk with them further. Six months later, I joined the company and here I am, more than six years on.”
What does a standard day look like for you?
“I’m still trying to work that one out! Every day has something different and unique to offer. I’m heavily involved in everything across the research and development side of business, whether it’s strategic planning, recruiting and retaining the best talent in the industry, making decisions about our next innovation or the kind of partnerships we should engage in, how we deploy our resources, what technology we want to focus on, or exploring the consumer insights that support us to continue to be the leading prestige beauty company.”
What major changes have you seen in the industry over the last few years?
“Being able to understand consumer habits is critical to staying ahead in the beauty industry. Through our rigorous research and studies, we see certain longer-term patterns and trends:
First, the increasing consumer interest in natural ingredients and the need for transparency. Consumers are more knowledgeable about products nowadays. They want to know what they are using, where it came from, and why it’s right for them.
The second thing I’ve seen is out of China. We’re seeing an increase in Gen Z consumers (aged 18 – 25) who are really driving the beauty industry. This is the generation that spends on average five hours a day on social media. When I was in China, I spoke to a 23-year-old woman, and from our conversation I learned that appearance is really important as it ties in with their confidence and how people see them. They also look at their skin critically – using a magnifying mirror to really analyse it thoroughly!
Third, there has been a significant increase in customisation and personalisation. We see that consumers are constantly looking for products that are created to specifically address their problems. To that end, creating products that will translate into solutions for consumers has always been the ultimate goal for us.”
What do you think it is overall that drives these changes?
“The ‘selfie’ culture looks like it’s here to stay and has resulted in consumers – male and female – paying more attention to themselves and how they look.
Also with more brands and products than ever before in the market, consumers are seeking personalised products that will offer the best care and efficacy for their skin.”
What are some of the changes Estée Lauder has made in order to keep up with the market?
“In March 2019, The Estée Lauder Companies published our new Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals. Take packaging, for example: by 2025, 75 to 100 per cent of our packaging will berecyclable, refillable, reusable, or recoverable. To achieve this goal, we will increase the amount of post-consumer recycled material in our packaging by up to 50 per cent.”
What are some recent innovations in beauty that have you excited?
“If I had to choose, I would say the in-store and online technology that allows consumers to virtually try on lipstick, eyeshadow. It’s one of the most interesting innovations. It’s really revolutionising the beauty industry by allowing consumers to try many different looks in seconds, wherever they are.”
Where in the makeup sector do you think we will see growth in the coming months?
“Generally, having beautiful, healthy and flawless skin has become the top priority for many consumers – great skin provides the perfect base for great makeup. There is a Japanese term ‘Tsuya’ which is the concept of a radiance from within that makes your skin looks extraordinary.
However, needs and trends vary depending on where consumers are based, and these will continue to become more diverse. As we launch products in market, we make sure that our launches support these trends. For example, in Japan there is a very defined standard of beauty – flawless skin is key and there are many skincare steps before applying foundation.
In Korea, we see more colour in this market. Korea tends to lead the way in creating lip trends like liquid products.
In China, consumers are more focused on look of the face and the finish of their products. This is a market where consumers really care about their foundation and their lip products.”
Any buzzy ingredients that have you excited?
“Sakura, definitely! This ingredient is in Estée Lauder’s latest Sakura Micro-Essence. The ritual of watery lotion originated in Japan. Asian consumers have the most complex skincare regimes in the world – many women use seven or eight products as part of their daily skincare routine, so a lightweight texture is important. Asian consumers believe that lotion prepares their skin for the rest of the products. Lotion is not commonly used in the Western market, but it is truly transformational.”
What are your resources for staying up to date in the industry?
“Looking: I always visit our stores in every city; listening: I look to social media to understand what consumers are saying; and talking: I talk to consumers to understand their pain points, and to find out what actually works for them.”