Consumers’ sense of what it means to “look good” keeps shifting, so naturally, the beauty industry must constantly evolve and adapt to fresh demands. This is abundantly true with the emergence of Gen Z, whose digital-first, health-centric, do-no-harm, environmentally-sensitive approach has necessitated a complete rethink of marketing strategies, product offerings, and sustainability credentials. Never has beauty and personal care been riper for reinvention. So it’s no surprise that, in 2022, investment in beauty products accelerated to new heights: Skincare alone totaled $153.3B in the US.

The power of social media, especially Instagram, TikTok, and live shopping platforms like Agora and Popshop has been a game-changer in how beauty presents itself to the world. With their powerful, singular voices, influencers have sent short-form video content to center stage on the proverbial runway, and brands have had to quickly adapt to reach the young, tech-savvy audience — some with startling results.

Next-gen brands like our portfolio company Bubble are seeing phenomenal success in tapping into the Gen Z zeitgeist with products like their Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer, which recently sold out in a matter of hours due to viral TikTok activity. As the first modern, clinical, affordable, science-backed, dermatologist-tested, accessible, vegan, and cruelty-free skincare line, Bubble appeals strongly to the modern consumer’s core desires. Since our initial investment in 2019, the company has been exponentially flourishing, partnering with Ulta Beauty in 2022 and expanding sales to the UK, Europe, and Mexico earlier this year.

Emerging brands are engaging their customers in a myriad of inventive ways, and even older brands are showing a bit of swagger. For example, EOS, originally known for its lip balms, was founded in 2006. As a “mature” company, it has cleverly embraced some tongue-in-cheek nostalgia to drive product loyalty and has flourished on TikTok. The Ordinary, as another case in point, appeals to the information- and personalization-driven new crowd by instructing them on how to become “skintellectuals.”

Gen Z-ers aren’t the only ones with significant weight in the beauty industry nowadays. We’re also seeing great success for wellness brands in specifically created for traditionally underserved and socially taboo communities. For instance, our investment Jude makes bladder care supplements for women experiencing incontinence, our investment MANTL provides skincare for bald or balding men, and our investment Luna Daily, which recently launched with Sephora, promotes intimate anatomy health and awareness. We firmly believe that the thriving companies of this decade will be built community-first, harnessing the passion and inherent word-of-mouth virality from consumers who have historically felt unrepresented or discriminated against by mainstream beauty businesses.

Underpinning all of this is a renewed demand from consumers for strong sustainability practices and ethical ingredients. We predict huge changes across the entire personal care creation system — everything from ingredients, to procurement, to packaging. Companies using deep science and breakthrough biotech to create innovative personalized formulas, like our current investments Phyla and Revea, are rising to the top of the pack. Our investments Ruby Bio and Curie Co have developed novel biodegradable and non-toxic molecules to replace the harmful chemicals that are currently used industry-wide. Our investment LOLI is the first beauty biz to create entirely zero-waste products, and platforms that track brand impact and transparency like our investment Bluebird are also compounding the trend.

At Joyance, we see beauty as a bright and glowing opportunity right now and for the foreseeable future. People will always strive to look their best — and be willing to pay for whatever they think it takes to make that happen.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a stereotype-busting, conscious-cleansing, category-defining beauty or wellness brand, feel free to reach out. We’d love to hear from you.

By Investment Principal Jenna Jung

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