Blog | 22 October 2018

River Predicts: The future of beauty 2044

Predicting the future isn’t always as difficult as you might think. In most market sectors there are long-term trends, environmental factors and technological developments that you can identify and follow their likely path to a reasonable conclusion.

Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

The beauty market is a little more difficult. Something that’s ‘so hot right now’ can disappear in an instant. This month’s essential eyebrow could soon go the way of the now defunct vajazzle.

So, 25 years hence, what developments can we expect from an industry whose end goal for its customers can be said to be both incredibly subjective and notoriously fickle?

1. Exercise in a pill
Exercise is a good way to keep looking fine, but for an ageing population (by 2044 nearly 25% of the global population will be 65+ years) with mobility issues and diabetes, it won’t always be realistic. Drugs (which are being tested now) to stimulate enzymes that regulate metabolism, burn stored fat and improve cardiovascular conditioning will be widely available – initially prescribed by your GP, then available at pharmacies.

2. Blood on the catwalk
Thought the future of beauty was all about genetic personalisation? By 2044 it’s a little more vampiric in essence. A few tentative trials on mice and a couple of Californians have provided some evidence that transfusing blood from young individuals has rejuvenating properties. Some proteins found in young blood plasma decrease over time, and reintroducing them has shown initial benefits in health and strength. It’s still early days but a future market for young blood – or something similar – looks possible.

3. Shazam for perfume
Technology now allows us to name that tune or identify that person. AI will advance over the next 25 years to include the nuances of smell. Firstly, you’ll be able to identify a perfume without asking what it is. You’ll then be able to buy it direct or perhaps even create it at home. By 2044 most of us will have a 3D printer that will have evolved to manufacture perfumes and makeup. You will be able to print makeup fundamentals and fragrances to suit your daily mood or look.

4. Therapy not surgery
Cosmetic surgery is now as common as booking a haircut and not much more expensive. Funnily enough, this lowering of cost appears to have removed many of the social judgements surrounding this aspect of the industry. Highly invasive surgical procedures have been largely replaced by the application of gene therapy. Once used to treat conditions such as cystic fibrosis, the technology will be adopted by the beauty industry of the future to change our appearance.

5. Ethics as standard
By nearly the middle of the century, consumer focus on sustainability and environmentalism ensures that eco-friendly labels are no longer a marketing tool for beauty brands. Technology has ensured that the provenance of materials used in manufacturing beauty products is now firmly in the light. Consumer involvement in the manufacturing process (see point 3) means that it is unavoidable. Animal testing was removed entirely from the supply chain about 20 years ago.

Over the next two decades or so it is likely that the beauty industry will find a solution to some of our everyday worries such as hair loss, wrinkles and love handles. But perhaps, among all this progress, it is worth asking what beauty will look like in 2044.

In evolutionary terms, the next 25 years is nothing and yet our broader environment (social, political, environmental, technological) is shifting at a faster rate than any time in history. Our notion of beauty is starting to evolve into something more holistic. Our rigid standards of beauty based on a template of looks is being replaced with body positivity, fluid gender identity and even political activism.

So, as our beauty standards grow ever wider, will beauty still be up for judgement in 2044? Despite a definite step forward, the notion of beauty still plays on a perceived set of ideals being present at a given time, even if it is a more holistic non-conformist world than the one of today. So, while the perception of what is hot right now will be different, something most definitely will be.

Alex Marks
Alex Marks
Strategy Consultant

Alex supports the strategic development of River's business and acts as an experienced marketing partner for our client teams. He is a regular commentator, writer and conference speaker on a wide variety of digital,  marketing,  and content strategy issues.