Glossy+: What's next for beauty

After having been immersed in beauty and spoken to experts in a variety of related fields last year, I’ve compiled my predictions for what’s to come in 2019.  

The Facebook drama will impact Instagram
This past year was an excruciating one for Facebook, the parent company of Instagram. It was embroiled in one scandal after the next, mostly around the exploitive use of user data and the spread of political misinformation.

Since its cofounders’ departure, Instagram has rolled out a number of new features -- some good and some questionable -- from both a data-privacy and user-experience standpoint. Instagram is currently prototyping handing users’ location history to Facebook, offering “promoted” posts to boost ads within Instagram Stories, allowing users to share Stories to a select group of people and backing a new walkie-talkie voice messaging feature.

It cannot be said just yet how Instagram’s evolution will impact the beauty industry’s Instagram enclave, but considering its importance to the beauty industry -- there are at least 200 million beauty fans on the platform, according to Instagram -- any systemic problems are concerning. In fact, we are also starting to learn more about how the Russian misinformation campaign spread to Instagram, and there is likely to be public scrutiny and exposure of internal operations of platform in 2019. 

Wellness will have its inclusivity moment
We frequently talk about wellness as the “new luxury,” which implies that it is available only to a small coterie of people with the means to participate.

But there are some grass-level movements popping up to spread the wellness, such as HealHaus in Brooklyn, New York which offers donation-based classes (including yoga and meditation), an event space, and instructors who are a variety of ages, races and body types, according to Fashionista. HealHaus also offers education on how to make wellness more accessible, like how people can adopt wellness rituals into their daily lives.

There’s also a proliferation of meditation or self-care apps that cropped up this year, including many designed with accessibility in mind, like #SelfCare and text-message app Shine. Both are free to download and think of time-saving ways for users to take part in self-care and focus on wellness.

“Wellness is still not accessible, even though we were talking about it more, because it was all about going on a retreat and not a day-to-day basis,” said Marah Lidey, co-founder and CEO of Shine. “Accessibility means a lot of things, like being representative, affordable and connected. What we wanted to do was offer someone who could talk [via text] to users, but not take up too much of their time.”

The Farm Bill will usher in a new era of CBD
CBD was perhaps the most significant beauty trend of 2018, particularly because it helped usher in a new market economy, which is estimated to hit $22 billion by 2022, according to the Brightfield Group.

What is likely to continue boosting the market growth is the recent passing of the Farm Bill. Section 10113, titled "Hemp Production," removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, places full regulatory authority of hemp with the USDA and allows state departments of agriculture to regulate hemp cultivation per their state-specific programs. In addition, the bill authorizes access to federal research funding for hemp, and removes restrictions on banking, water rights and other regulatory roadblocks the hemp industry currently faces. This will allow for a new era of hemp farming in the U.S. --Emma Sandler

What 2019 has in-store for wholesale retailers

Two of the biggest trends of 2018 were the continued rise of fashion resellers, along with a host of fashion brands favoring direct retail over wholesale. That’s why I’m predicting that 2019 will see retailers attempting to take back some of their lost business.

E-commerce retailers like Net-a-Porter have done an excellent job of remaining relevant as retail changes, but more traditional retailers like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have some catching up to do. I expect these retailers will start rolling out new, more experimental efforts in order to meet the demands of customers used to having affordable, easy-to-access products delivered with all the luxuries that the internet can provide.

Brands and resellers are working together more often, leaving retailers out in the cold. As resellers continue to transform themselves into something resembling a more traditional retail experience, retailers will have to come up with ways to distinguish themselves from their new competitors. --Danny Parisi

A fashion brand’s guide to maintaining control on Amazon

In mid-December, I wrote a story based on a survey taken by Glossy+’s proprietary research panel of industry insiders, which showed a nearly even split between those from brands currently selling on Amazon and those from brands that aren’t. Only 2 percent of respondents said their affiliated brands were currently selling on Amazon but planned to pull out in 2019 -- which says the marketplace is working for most brands that have taken the plunge.  

One such brand that has seen success selling on Amazon is bra brand Pepper, which specializes in hard-to-find small sizes. It launched in 2017 as a direct-to-consumer brand and started selling on Amazon in July to test the waters. Sales on the site jumped from 1 percent of the brand’s total gross sales in July to 5 percent in August, to 15 percent in October.

“It’s really important for us to have control over the [customer] experience,” said co-founder Jaclyn Fu. “That’s something we prioritize.”

In that case, considering Amazon’s reputation for confiscating power from partner brands, many would argue that linking with the marketplace was a bad move. But Fu and fellow co-founder Lia Winograd maintain that, five months into their brand’s launch on the marketplace, they feel in-control of their brand across channels.

Here’s how they’ve navigated the notorious power struggle on Amazon:

Going in with a new-to-the-market product
Finding a white space is regularly pointed to as the reason a brand’s founder hits go on bringing a concept to market. For Pepper, the brand’s launch on Amazon highlighted the extent to which it was filling a need. As the conversion rate proved 2 percent higher on Amazon than on their own website, Fu and Winograd concluded that women were discovering their products on Amazon by searching relevant keywords (“best bras for small-chested women,” “best bras for 34AA”). Without spending on advertising, their bras were coming up in searches due to the lack of competitive product on the site.

Stepping in as customer service
Pepper signed on with Amazon as a Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) partner, meaning (for starters) that the company is responsible for packaging up its own items ordered on Amazon and shipping them to customers. Fu and Winograd take advantage of that opportunity: “Amazon is notorious for making customer communication hard, and we have no insight to the customer support requests they receive,“ said Winograd. “So we include thank-you cards in every package, where we offer up our own service. Every card has our direct contact information, and we state that, if customers want to get in touch, they can.”

Taking advantage of the partnership’s perks
Among perks is press, as publishers are eager to feature items sold on Amazon due to its generous affiliate program. “With our recent coverage in Business Insider and Popsugar, the publications directed traffic to our Amazon listing, because that meant they could get commission from it,” said Fu. “There’s a bigger incentive for publications to write about us when we’re on Amazon, which was an added benefit we didn't realize until later. We do our own PR, so we use that.”

Only teasing their product offering
Like many brand leaders, Fu and Winograd are strategic about the items they offer on Amazon, limiting the selection on the marketplace to a small sampling. “The idea is that [Amazon] shoppers will find their perfect fit on the site and want more [styles], and they’ll have to come to our website to get more,” said Winograd.

Maintaining to a niche focus
Though Amazon’s private-label strategy is often seen as a threat to brands, Fu and Winograd are confident Pepper is in the clear. “Amazon is more more likely to go after a mass audience — do what Lively or ThirdLove are doing [with extended sizes] — than try for our niche audience.”  --Jill Manoff