The Secret Sauce Behind World’s Most Successful Beauty Indies

The Secret Sauce Behind Some of the World’s Most Successful Beauty Indies

Indies continue to unfold their power, bringing unique concepts, authentic stories, customized solutions, and exotic ingredients to the fore. In the United States, the breeding ground for such emerging brands, retail of beauty indies, is expected to increase sales at a compound annual growth rate of 14% by 2027, which is three times more than the total market’s growth. So, what are the key success factors behind these game-changing brands?  

In our just-published Beauty Indies: Analysis of Brands to Watch report, we analyzed 25 of the fastest-growing brands in China, Europe, and the United States with the potential to become the next acquisition targets. Here’s what they all have in common:   

Clear Messaging and Positioning 

Indies gain consumer trust through authenticity and transparency. Several brands that recorded growth rates between 30% and 220% in 2021 are cause-driven brands that make a difference in various communities. For instance, in Spain, Cocunat positions itself as a natural and toxic-free skin care brand. Inkey List, a brand originating from the United Kingdom and having a strong positioning in the United States, prides itself on making the concept of skin care easy for consumers through well-thought ingredient descriptions and application tips. Moreover, Live Tinted, an American indie, centers its core message around recognizing and embracing people of all skin tones, cultures, and religions through both makeup and skin care products. 

 Credibility Due to Founder’s Reputation 

Founders are often the ambassadors promoting a brand. All relationships in which they are linked or associated with help them gain access to retailers, investors, contract manufacturers, formulators, and more. Bobbi Brown, Founder and CEO of Jones Road, is a highly regarded makeup guru, bringing an immediate credibility to her brand. Makeup By Mario is promoted by Founder Mario Dedivanovic, one of the world’s most renowned makeup artists. The association of his name with the brand brings a level of prestige to the makeup market. In China, indies are often promoted by singers or actors. Singer Xuanyi Wu served as the first spokesperson for Boitown perfume. Actress Ye Zhou promotes Rocking Zoo, a personal care brand founded in 2019. The brand registered an increase of 209% in 2021, reaching more than CNY 400 million (~USD 60 million).  

The Right Go-to-Market Strategy  

Indie brands often sell their products exclusively online when they launch in the market. In China, makeup brand BlankMe and skincare brand LAN sells online via Chinese shopping platforms Tmall and Douyin. PLouise in the United Kingdom is also sold exclusively online to reach its targeted pool of consumers. In the United States, many indie brands made their way into Ulta Beauty platforms, which house innovative and inclusive brands, with an extensive selection of hair care, skin care, makeup, and fragrance brands. Ulta took it up a notch with the Sparked at the Ulta Beauty program, where up-and-coming indie beauty brands and small businesses showcased their products to reach their targeted consumers. In 2021, Kristin Ess expanded its presence into Ulta Beauty, consequently witnessing a boost in sales. 

All these success stories continue to develop the appetite of investors that are now increasingly taking risks by acquiring indies at an earlier stage of development. While in 2014, the average lifespan of a successful beauty indie brand was 20 years, today it fell under 10 years.  

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