What is Agile Beauty Development?
Arianna Andrews, Chief Commercial Officer
Mar 2, 2022 · 5 min read
It's no secret that the Beauty Industry is extremely competitive.
More and more beauty brands launch new products into the market every year. New product development (NPD) is a complex and technical process, and surprisingly, continues to be largely analogue and for that reason brands can spend 18-24 months getting a new product to market. With rapid changes in consumer behavior, however, as well as an increase in regulatory restrictions, and the unpredictability of the global supply chain, more brands are feeling the pressure to move quickly to get new products to market. Today, brands are looking for ways to be leaner in production, agile in sourcing—and faster to launch.
So, what does it mean to be an agile cosmetic product developer?
In this article we break down the five pillars of NPD in the digital era:
- Simple & Fast
1. Simple & Fast
Digitalization has been a buzzword for the last decade, maybe more. It’s no different in the beauty and cosmetics industry, especially in the post-Pandemic era where digitalization has meant “sink or swim” for beauty retailers, many service providers, and a whole host of beauty brands. But what exactly is digitalization?
We know that digitalization improves speed. It usually lowers costs. It makes businesses more efficient and helps people simplify complex operations. But digitalization does not mean just 'selling materials online'. E-commerce is only one, small piece. Digitalization is about applying technology to enable completely new processes online so that people can realize new opportunities.
What’s missing from the cosmetic product creation value chain is a true digital ecosystem that actively assists in the process with the right information at the right time and with a focus on delivering a solution, rather than just a focus on efficiency, like web shops or pure marketplaces.
Multiple search engines and e-commerce-driven marketplaces exist today, but none offer a holistic end-to-end solution for complete product creation. That’s what we envisioned when we first conceived of Goldn: a solution-focused ecosystem that brings the demand side and the supply side together on to one platform.
Digitalization is about applying technology to enable completely new processes online so that people can realize new opportunities.
More than 200,000 new beauty products are launched to market every year. And each product is the result of several teams that collaborate during different phases of development up until launch: teams for formulation, packaging design, branding, regulatory compliance and more. Yet, product developers and their teams often work in silos, making communication slow (and often repetitive), which, over time, can lead to inefficiencies, higher costs, and hinders go-to-market effectiveness.
When brands digitalize their workflows, communication and collaboration tend to move online as well. It is important in this transition to look for ways to centralize information and reduce feedback cycles—a key driver to increased speed in NPD. Cloud-based tools specifically designed for cosmetic creation allow teams and suppliers to collaborate in a single workspace, making the information value chain shorter & less vulnerable to gaps.
Beauty brands are not the only ones who benefit from digitalization. Many cosmetic suppliers are also embracing the "move to digital," as powerful macro trends continue to disrupt industries and distribution networks world-wide.
Yet surprisingly few cosmetic supply companies are building scale with seamless, omni-channel experiences that business customers (not just consumers) now demand. Some suppliers have invested in e-commerce storefronts, while others participate in multi-tenant marketplaces. But with limited functionality (ie. only transactions), and little to no network effect, these types of outlets represent only partial steps towards commercial excellence.
More digital players in cosmetic supply with a holistic approach mean more advantages all around—especially for customers. Beauty brands, product developers and other customers expect digitally-enabled services and greater transparency—like visibility into pricing, inventory, capacity, serviceable locations, lead times, etc. And suppliers who embrace digitalization not just in operations, but in business development and cross-functionally, are expected to outperform competitors across key areas, starting with customer acquisition.
A holistic approach to “going digital” for many suppliers and brands means centralizing informational workflows, surfacing commercial information to the customer quickly, making data accessible to the appropriate project partners anywhere at any time, and data-based match-making—all of which contribute to better agility, targeted sales/purchasing and greater speed on both sides.
More supply chain visibility for brands starts with suppliers. Suppliers who embrace digitalization as a means to simplify the strategic and commercial decisions that drive product development, and position companies to scale.
Goldn is empowering brands and suppliers through data-driven processes, supply chain visibility, and targeted matchmaking—to help companies grow sustainably & scale.
Many beauty brands and cosmetic developers still devise strategies for new products without consistent processes, routines, or resource management. Ideas for new beauty products are often vetted on several factors, like market trends, perceived commercial opportunity, supply network availability and cost analyses—but few brands actually use data-driven tools to improve sourcing and purchasing decisions or to manage supply networks and teams through to launch.
"Smart" tools that are specifically designed for cosmetic product developers can help brands consolidate vast amounts of information quickly and surface critical data in key areas like ideation, project management, as well as sourcing and purchasing.
Necessarily, these tools go beyond "simple" search & discovery or e-commerce. Higher functionality is required to give brands the interconnected and collaborative work environment needed for cross-functional teamwork and successful project execution.
Better options are SaaS tools, and when these are combined with marketplace functionalities that use data-driven matchmaking to find relevant suppliers for specific project needs, brands can realize tremendous time & cost savings and streamline processes for heightened performance.
Cosmetics & Personal Care is an innovative and competitive space, with new brands and products entering the market every year. For many brands, especially the "challenger" brands that are scaling their distribution fast, product development can be a very complex and challenging process—and not always a ‘delightful’ one.
Cosmetic creation is technical, market-driven and subject to changes in consumer trends, retailer policies and regulations. And since product development is largely managed offline, or with a combination of non-integrated tools, it's not uncommon that brands spend 12-24 months preparing a new product for launch.
But the future of beauty means brands need strategies for "smarter", faster & more agile product development, and part of the solution can be found in a product developer’s ‘tool kit.’ Because the right tools can make a job easier—and often more delightful!
Data-driven solutions that are specifically designed for formulation-based industries like Cosmetics & Personal care are quickly becoming the new gold standard for brands and suppliers across the value chain. More brands & suppliers are adopting digital tools to simplify NPD, transactions and project management to get products to market fast.
Goldn is the industry's first intuitive and delightful ecosystem that makes product development accessible & collaborative—on one platform.
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