‘Less exuberance, more elegance’: Branding expert’s assessment on 2021’s Lunar New Year beauty collections
How has the uncertainty and unrest of 2020 impacted the way brands are ushering in the Lunar New Year? We speak to Spencer Ball, creative director of Anthem Singapore, to find out.
The Lunar New Year is one of the most important and festive celebrations in the lunar calendar, and when beauty brands go all out to connect with their Chinese consumers.
This year’s celebrations, however, follow one of the most turbulent years in recent history, which has undoubtedly created a long-lasting impact on the beauty and personal care industry.
Ball believes that the latest crop of Lunar New Year beauty collections is reflective of the unprecedented year we have experienced.
“There is a clearly a more measured approach, less of the exuberance that we often see at Lunar New Year. The emphasis has shifted to a more classic, more crafted design. So, overall, this year’s crop feels more mature and elegant.”
Such an approach is possibly why unlike last year, brands are steering away from splashing the obvious motifs over their collections.
For instance, there are notably fewer attempts to integrate this year’s zodiac animal, the ox, into their designs.
“I always prefer brands that do the hard work and create something ownable and true to their identity. The obvious design elements can still be desirable, as long as they are creatively integrated with a brand’s equities or meaning. The magic is in the interpretation, rather than appropriation,” said Ball.
Instead, he has observed that brands are favouring designs that will stand the test of time.
“After a year of re-evaluating the products we buy, designs that endure are now more valued. There are more textured and etched details to be discovered, rich illustrations that reveal more detail as you look closer.”
As we move into 2021, Ball expects branding and design trends to continue to be affected by the events of the previous year.
“We are already seeing a shift in brands adopting a more optimistic stance after a year of massive upheaval and uncertainty. With a return to real human values like honesty and empathy, simplicity in design seems more appropriate than ever.”
He believes this will manifest in more muted colours as well as more sensorial elements to packaging.
“There are softer, calmer colour palettes in packaging, as well as more tactile materials and textures – as a kind of antidote to the remote, screen-based lives we have been forced to adopt this past year.”
Cream of the crop?
Among the all the brand’s this year, Ball is most impressed by the simplicity and boldness of SK-II’s PITERA Essence XOXO New Year Limited Edition, designed in collaboration with artist André Saraiva
“They have avoided the clichés and created an original idea about happy reunions. The accompanying animations by Andre Saraiva are joy to watch – the world needs more hugs and kisses this year!”
Another brand that delighted was Benefit, which cleverly eluded to this year’s zodiac animal with a whimsical make-up bag.
“It’s impossible to ignore Benefit’s witty make-up bag. We would expect a healthy dose of humour and this delivers. The nose-ring on the bag would make anyone smile, all year long,” Ball said.
On the other hand, he felt that brands like MAC Cosmetics and Givenchy were lacking in one way or another.
“Compared to last year, MAC has been more restrained in their use of Chinese icons. Although the Koi feels a bit odd in the year of the Ox. Givenchy is probably the least noteworthy of the bunch. It feels like they couldn’t find an idea and played things quite safe. But at a time when brands need to be incredibly careful with how they use Chinese cultural elements, this is not entirely unexpected.”
Click through the gallery for more of Ball’s insights and comments into this year’s crop Lunar New Year beauty collections.