On Monday at 11:55 a.m., consumers anxiously sit at their desks across the country waiting for the clock to strike noon. The world comes to a halt for two minutes as riders strategically pick their bikes for the week at SoulCycle because it’s just as important as applying their all-natural night cream before bed.
This story first appeared in the May 27, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Beauty doesn’t just come packaged in a jar anymore, unless it’s a healthy shot of juice. Consumers are investing in themselves more than ever and have gravitated toward a healthy regimen that includes a raw-food diet and a consistent workout routine at their favorite boutique fitness studio, and are de-stressing with a facial massage on a month-to-month basis to lift their cheekbones.
The traditional beauty industry is finding itself in the unexpected position of having to run competitive laps with the health and wellness crowd. And it’s showing its age.
The hot spots where Millennials get their daily fix include the unavoidable SoulCycle, AKT InMotion, CityRow and Physique 57.
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“Holistic health is one of the biggest trends across all categories at the moment,” declared Claire Hobson, executive vice president and global business director of The Future Laboratory, during the CEW Global Trends Report presentation Future Focus: Long Beauty. “It’s important that when we talk about cosmetics, we talk about beauty, we talk about wellness and we talk about health in a converged environment now. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about feeling good and looking good.”
She’s right, and consumers now view beauty as holistic, rather than cosmetic.
“Beauty brands are really competing with a share of wallets with $34 SoulCycle classes and Lululemon hoodies,” said Maureen Mullen, cofounder and head of research at L2 Inc. “Those are a lot of the trade-offs that consumers are making right now,” she said, speaking primarily of Millennials.
One fact is clear, however. Natural beauty brands best exemplify how health and wellness are becoming one entity.
“Naturals is the attribute that consumers are looking to pay a premium for and it’s driven by Millennials,” said James Russo, senior vice president of consumer global insights for Nielsen. “What I like about the health and beauty angle is that it’s not just specific to beauty, it’s becoming increasingly pertinent in the way we buy and live. It should give companies confidence to move forward.”
A brand that is breaking ground in the natural space is new brand Pursoma, a self-described beauty wellness company. “Pursoma is a beauty brand, but we function as a wellness company,” said Shannon Vaughn, founder of Pursoma, an all-natural bath and body line that combats urban toxicity. “We create products that make people feel better. When we’re dealing with a new retailer I’ll tell them don’t just put us in your beauty category and don’t just put us in the wellness section. Let’s create a new category called beauty wellness.”
That category seems to be resonating. Pursoma, which went into full-scale distribution in November and has had sales triple since, is sold at indie beauty boutiques like Shen Beauty and Cap Beauty, as well as juice bars like The Butcher’s Daughter in New York.
“We think [that natural beauty products] are the next thing people start looking at after they analyze their food and health,” said Kerrilynn Pamer, cofounder of Cap Beauty. “They really start looking at the products they are putting on their bodies.”
Meanwhile, Pai Skincare, a certified organic skin-care line based in the U.K., is all about creating a lifestyle for its consumers.
“We don’t just sell products, we sell a complete service,” said Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare. “We have a phenomenal customer support system. We have extended hours so people can call up and ask what shampoos we recommend even though we don’t sell shampoos. We are positioning ourselves as experts to help people navigate the natural beauty sector.”
According to Nielsen, in the last 52 weeks ended last November, natural and organic beauty products grew by 24 percent.
“Companies are looking for growth,” said Russo, adding that the natural beauty sector generated $345 million in 2014 with a 12 percent increase versus a year ago. “[And natural beauty is] really driving growth.”
Furthermore, Tata Harper believes that there’s a movement taking place where consumers are trying to live better.
“There’s more people exercising, there’s more people meditating and trying to do things that are better for themselves,” said Harper, founder of the namesake skin-care line. “It’s all coming together along with the antiaging qualities of exercise.”
Anna Kaiser, celebrity trainer and founder of AKT InMotion agrees. “Fitness isn’t just about the workout anymore, it’s about what you’re eating, beauty and massage,” she said.
Kaiser’s studio is one of the top boutique fitness trend spots that have exploded on the market. The classes include cardio dance routines, strength intervals with yoga poses and flexibility in between. “I really want to maintain the integrity of the workout and the result and provide a quality service that brings together a community,” Kaiser said. “It’s not just a sweat-and-go workout, which I believe is coming to an end. People are really valuing their time.”
“We see at SoulCycle every day across the country that people are putting their health first,” said Elizabeth Cutler, cofounder of SoulCycle, who added that the company has more than 12,000 riders a day. “It’s the meeting of physical strength, mental health and spiritual well-being that signifies SoulCycle as a lifestyle brand. Also, feeling good is something that people want to quantify. You find the best version of yourself on the bike and people want to live that way.”
With this umbrella of beauty wellness comes new categories, such as facial fitness. In December, Rachel Lang, an aesthetician, Kate Gyllenhaal, a personal trainer, and Heidi Frederick, a massage therapist, came together to launch FaceLove Fitness, a gym that’s, well, for one’s face. Located in downtown Manhattan, the experience utilizes massage and physical touch to strengthen and tone the facial muscles.
“Fitness raises endorphins, your pain blockers, healing cells, it boosts your immune system and purifies your body,” said Lang, who noted that one of her clients postponed getting Botox because she saw improvement in firmness as a result of her weekly FaceLove Fitness appointments. “One of the skin’s main functions is to eliminate the impurities in your body and that just activates your skin’s mechanism and metabolism more. So it really is great skin care.”
She added that there were a couple of studies recently done at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, that measured skin on a body that exercised versus a nonexercised body. The exercised body had thicker skin and higher levels of collagen.
Traditional spas are also incorporating elements of wellness beyond just facials. Bliss is becoming a lifestyle brand and entering multiple categories. Heyday, a facial concept, sort of like a Drybar for faces, opening now in the Flatiron District in New York, is planning to bring facials out of the spa and into people’s lives by having its aestheticians create customized treatments with a variety of brands at an affordable price. “The whole concept of Heyday is being your best from the inside out,” said Adam Ross, cofounder and ceo of Heyday. “That gives us a huge opportunity to be a wellness brand.”
Also, Shen Beauty, which operates as an indie beauty boutique and spa, brought in health experts like nutritionist Katrine van Wyk and “Eat Pretty” author Jolene Hart to educate consumers.
“Jolene Hart spoke about what you can eat to have beautiful, healthy skin,” said Jessica Richards, owner of Shen Beauty. “Katrine van Wyk talked about green smoothies and green drinks and she made them for our customers. Because it’s not just about what you put on your skin, a lot has to do with what you eat.”
E-commerce site Shop Zoe Life started out as an online all-natural beauty retailer and has recently expanded into ath-leisure due to the impact of beauty wellness. “Natural beauty is booming,” said Zoe Twitt, founder of Shop Zoe Life. “Since I launched a year ago I’ve seen a lot of new e-commerce sites launch natural and organic beauty. But they’re not offering the whole package. They’re focused on beauty, but they’re not focused on all categories, like health and fitness.”
Twitt has a clear vision of bringing all aspects of wellness under one roof. And according to Nielsen’s Russo, she’s on the right path.
“The main dynamic here is that wellness is not a fad,” Russo said. “It’s a long-standing trend.”