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Editor’s Letter: Beauty 2020

Deb Henretta of Procter & Gamble didn’t pull any punches in her opening address at the 2013 WWD Beauty Summit.

Deb Henretta of Procter & Gamble didn’t pull any punches in her opening address at the 2013 WWD Beauty Summit. “We have to step it up and innovate at the speed of digital,” she declared of the collective beauty industry, “lest we risk becoming the Polaroid camera, the analogue telephone or the business pager of our industry.”

They were powerful words, particularly coming from the group president of beauty at the world’s third-largest manufacturer of personal-care products, a clear call for revolution in an industry that can hold “too tightly to traditions,” as Henretta eloquently phrased it.

Her remarks led me to think about the future of beauty—What are the defining characteristics of the consumers who will replace the Baby Boomers as a critical demographic? How quickly are emerging markets evolving and what do marketers need to do today to prepare? What will beauty products even look like in 10 years time, as technology continues to redefine every aspect of our lives?—and hence to the theme of this issue, Beauty 2020.

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We’ve tried to answer many of those questions, starting with an in-depth analysis of Millennials in “Express Yourself.” By 2020, Millennials will double in importance in terms of the spend they control, a fact already recognized by marketers like Shiseido, which is launching a skin-care brand specifically targeted to the cohort, and MAC, which will open a new, youth-oriented store format in November.

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In terms of the future, the “where” is as interesting as the “who.” The importance of China’s tier-three, -four and -five cities is increasing as rapidly as their exploding populations—400 million people will be urbanized by 2025—but the competitive landscape is markedly different, as Shanghai-based writer Casey Hall reveals in “Urban Planning.” Meanwhile, in India, the architect of Reliance Retail Ltd.’s beauty strategy, Vivek Bali, sat down with writer Mayu Saini for a frank conversation about what international brands must do to realize the growth potential inherent in the development of the country.

And we couldn’t forget the “what” either—namely, products. For “Imagination Nation,” Molly Prior canvassed leading futurists and discovered bold ideas like edimetics and energy harvesting that could redefine our industry. Henretta will doubtless be championing their development every step of the way.