Tips for emerging ‘natural’ indie beauty brands

The digital revolution has allowed Australian founder-owned independent beauty brands to directly build consumer demand and pioneer a new category in what is now a rapidly growing movement.

But as competition increases, so do the challenges for entrepreneurs entering the category.

We talk to two of Australia’s most successful indie beauty founders, Cindy Luken from Luk Beautifood, and Julie Mathers from Flora & Fauna, ahead of their appearance at this year’s Naturally Good.

Here’s their top tips to stand out from the crowd:

1Know your market

Knowing your market and building a direct relationship with them are the foundations of success in the growing beauty market, expected to hit US$21 million globally by 2024.

According global market intelligence agency Mintel 29% of Australian consumers look for locally made/grown products or services, including toiletries. Consumers today are doing more research on the products they buy more than ever before, using apps for insights on the safety of ingredients, and keeping informed on related developments in science and technology. While ‘naturals’ continue to be popular with a growing number of beauty consumers, many are choosing to ‘get back to basics’ by shopping small, buying locally-sourced, locally-produced, and small-batch products, and by ‘being green’. This consumer wants products that reflect who they are, where they live, and that instill a sense of pride.

2Point of difference is critical

With increasing competition it’s important to think strategically about your product development, brand positing and messaging to create a real point of difference, according to Ms Luken. “With Luk Beautifood, not only are our lipsticks made from natural ingredients such as avocado and coconut oil, they are also flavoured with natural fruit and spice ingredients such as peach, cinnamon and mandarin so they taste great. You can often end up swallowing lipstick when you lick your lips, so it may as well be healthy for you and taste good.”

3Embrace Insta-beauty

Social media, particularly Instagram is now an essential tool for growing a beauty and personal care brand.  Ms Mathers says millennials are a core demographic for beauty products meaning social media couldn’t be ignored. “Many customers are massively influenced by social media now, so if you can put out core messages of health, vitality and positivity about your product, then you’ll make much more of an impact.”

4Create brand personality

Customers are more likely to engage with a product if you have a solid back story full of purpose and heart – but keep it real. “It’s important to formulate a relationship with your customers and reassure them you’re in trusted hands,” said Ms Luken. “We emphasise on our site the importance of being healthy, have information about vitamins and antioxidants, have healthy food recipes on our blog, articles about combatting stress and ways you can create your own beauty products yourself.”

5Eco packaging rules

Ms Mathers says the move to more eco-friendly packaging is becoming important in the beauty industry. “Not only are people wanting things wrapped in less plastic, they’re also seeking out products that use less plastic with containers. Some really exciting innovations have been shampoo soap bars, deodorants in cardboard tubes, refillable makeup pots and mascara in glass tubes. It’s important to make as much as a committed difference with your product as possible.”

6Put key product claims front and centre

Consumers are more educated than ever before, and not just on the ‘dirty dozen’ but on full ingredient transparency, key certifications and issues around ‘green washing’, animal cruelty and social responsibility. It’s fair to say ‘clean’ is emerging as the new ‘natural’ with consumers spending more time reading labels to feel safe about their beauty and personal care choices.

According to Ms Luken highlighting key product claims on both labelling and your website is essential. “People want reassurance that they’re health won’t be compromised and want to fully understand what something is made from.”

7Build a solid plan

A great product doesn’t necessarily guarantee success and it’s important for emerging business to understand the market they’re entering. “We’re currently in a very soft retail market and a lot of people are struggling,” said Ms Mathers. “You need to have solid marketing and contingency plans in place as well as a good deal of resilience. Don’t venture into something blind.”

To get the full backstory behind the growth of Luk Beautifood, hear Ms Luken speak at this year’s Naturally Good Business Summit on Friday 31 May. Learn more and register here.

Naturally Good is on from 2-3 June at the ICC Sydney. For information and to register click here. Natural, Organic and Clean – Indie Beauty Trends Impacting Australian Retail panel discussion is on Sunday 2 June at 10.45am. See the full program here.