Speaking at In-Cosmetics Asia in Bangkok, Mintel analyst Sharon Kwek said there had been a surge in the number of indie brands in recent years, with consumers craving the authenticity these start-ups can offer.
And it’s not just homegrown outfits that are having success in APAC, with western independents also starting to tap into the market.
Telling a story
“Indie brands are popular because they come about from a gap or a problem the founder encounters, which brings very interesting backstories,” she said.
“Most start small, are independently funded by the founders and go into great detail when it comes to packaging, position and branding to ensure they are unique.”
Kwek namechecked Cuvee Beauty, a US haircare product founded be Rachel Katzman as being a prime example of a brand with a great backstory.
“After a party, she discovered Champagne had haircare superpowers and used it to formulate a product, with the line ‘a champagne toast for your hair’.”
She added most indie brands found success by first targeting millennials because they are the most receptive to new innovations and are tech savvy.
For example, 34% of younger UK beauty buyers said they were likely to use retailers with new or niche products, while 35% of consumers in China are looking for new and personalised items.
Reaching and engaging
Key to attracting this audience, Kwek added, is social media.
“This is critical especially from a visual perspective,” she said. “We found that 71% US consumers say social media posts encourage them to buy.”
Meanwhile, 32% of Chinese women say they have worn make-up based on looks recommended by bloggers.
“And now we are starting to see the indie brands target the younger, iGeneration too,” she added.
Inevitably, the success of indie brands and see the major players swoop in to make acquisitions.
Notable examples include Estee lauder’s deals for Too Faced Cosmetics and Becca Cosmetics, and L’Oreal’s move for IT Cosmetics.
The power of three
That said, Kwek predicted the rise of indie brands in Asia would continue.
She said crowdfunding would continue to be the favoured source of finance, while access to OEM companies was getting much easier, especially in China.
“And all the time technology is facilitating marketing and e-commerce. These will continue to drive young indie brands in Asia.”
Kwek also encouraged indie brands to branch out from cyberspace into retail stores to build consumer connections.
“We are seeing a huge range in pop-up stores for indie brands and limited edition launches,” she added.