After an explosive two years, beauty devices show no signs of retrenching in 2022.
The category, notoriously difficult to grow due to low replenishment rates, is only gaining momentum heading into the new year.
The NPD Group has cited at-home devices as a bright spot in 2020, and according to a consumer survey conducted by Mintel in April 2021, 29 percent of consumers over the age of 18 are interested in buying a skin care device, as opposed to 12 percent interested in hair tools. Brands have also become M&A targets, too: device brand Droplette, which launched in 2020, secured a $15 million funding round in December 2021. Success in the category has only attracted the eyes of experts.
“Our view is actually to go after devices in a bigger and better way in 2022,” said Oliver Garfield, chief executive officer of Cos Bar, adding that consumers increasingly want to supplement in-office procedures with at-home devices. “What’s been somewhat of a surprise is the stickiness that at-home devices have had since the pandemic, and it’s confirmation that they’re not going away.”
In addition to the convenience factor, Tera Peterson, cofounder and chief creative officer of NuFace, said the need for efficacy is also driving demand.
“What we’re seeing now is that skin care alone is just not enough. If you go to your medical office or aesthetician, they’re not just putting on topical products,” she said. “What we’re seeing is that this demand for technology has come home. Clients have now adapted NuFace and know that they need this as part of their daily routine.”
Proving devices’ results — and communicating them — is also an imperative as brands look to scale. “Innovation is important because the consumer really needs to see the efficacy to justify the high price for the device,” said Ilya Seglin, managing director of Threadstone Advisors’ investment banking division. “Otherwise, it’s easier to try a $50 liquid product that may or may not deliver than it is to spend $200 on something that may or may not work.”
Education, along with price, are other barriers. “When we sell devices, that’s the biggest thing that dictates whether we’re successful or not: our ability to teach the customer what it does, and that’s a different type of interaction,” Garfield said. “It’s a bigger investment in time and price point, above and beyond others. It always goes back to education and why it’s worth doing.”
Adding replenishable categories has worked well for NuFace. When the brand branched into skin care earlier this year, WWD reported that the brand was to reach an estimated $150 million in retail sales for 2021, with more than 20 percent of those sales expected to come from the skin care side of the business.
For Peterson, though, microcurrent’s versatility lends itself to a more flexible business model. “Typically, a device company has one device, and once a client purchases that device, they don’t need another device until that device has broken. We have different devices at different frequencies that do different things. We have clients that are replenishing, but they’re buying different devices, and then we’ve layered on our skin care which enhances results.”
Consumers are also more attracted than ever to personalizing how a device functions. “The other thing we’re seeing, especially coming out of Asia, and starting to take place here in the U.S., the idea of being able to personalize your technology to your own skin. We educate the clients on how once they have this device, there are a few hundred ways you can use it,” Peterson said.
The phenomenon seems to be brand-agnostic. “Ziip Beauty would be an example of this, when the devices have apps that allow for personalization, that seems to be resonating and really helping with conversion,” Garfield added.
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