Nicolas Krafft, Former L'Oreal Executive, Remarks on Affordable Beauty’s Major Moment

It’s easy to be lured into thinking that the best beauty products are the ones with the highest price tags. We’ve been conditioned to think that a higher cost equals higher quality and this is especially true in the beauty industry. However, according to former L’Oreal executive Nicolas Krafft, the world of beauty products is experiencing a major shift. Fueled by online influencers and social media buzz, affordable, drugstore brand beauty products are starting to get the recognition they deserve. Nicolas Krafft spent several years with L’Oréal’ and the fact that this beauty industry veteran is viewing the affordable beauty market, and these certain affordable, quality-ingredient beauty brands, with this level of excitement should make the average beauty shopper’s wallet very happy.

We now know independent beauty brands have made serious inroads to the nearly $50 billion cosmetic and beauty industry market. By using influencers and social media, economical products were able to forge a new path forward, fueled by influencers and social media. Indie beauty brands began growing at a faster rate than established brands, sending signals of staying power to the cosmetics market.

Take for example The Ordinary, which entered the market in 2016. Their approach to breaking into the skincare market was rooted in transparency. The Ordinary made it their mission to empower consumers by educating them about basic ingredients and offering their products at incredibly modest price points. With social media continuing to grab an ever-growing level of importance for brands, the relevant question to ask of The Ordinary isn’t, “how has the use of social media impacted the brand’s growth?”, but rather “how hasn’t it?” The Ordinary’s founder, Brandon Truaxe, ran Deciem’s social media accounts prior to his death in 2019, and while some lauded his social media strategy and prowess, he claimed it to be more of “an extreme lack of filter in communication” than a real strategy. The brand, and Deciem, found themselves in the middle of social media spats with journalists and competing brands over the span of a couple years, but the spats ended up fueling their popularity by becoming the beauty industry’s favorite reality show. As evidenced by its social media presence, The Ordinary stands for authenticity, and with that they’ve found what consumers are really looking for; an authentic brand selling quality, affordable products.

Another example of a noteworthy affordable cosmetic brand is CeraVe. CeraVe, which you can find in drug stores and Targets in large quantities for under $20, may ring a bell as the cleanser and moisturizer brand our parents have used since its inception in 2005. Dermatologists swear by it and as a member of the L’Oreal family, CeraVe has seen incredible growth in the last year. In L’Oréal’s 2020 Annual Finance Report, the company stated that CeraVe is one of the top five dermocosmetics brands and that it nearly doubled in size last year thanks in part to skincare influencers like Hyram, Nai, and Tiara Willis, who helped introduce Gen Z consumers to the tried-and-true brand. Krafft explains that CeraVe takes a minimalist approach to their products, focusing on main ingredients with affordable price points, but “most importantly, a high level of efficacy.” After all, it’s not all about if the product is affordable, but rather if the affordable product delivers the desired results, which CeraVe clearly does. According to the aforementioned L’Oreal finance report it seems CeraVe delivers on its promises. In the 52 week period ending June 16, 2019, CeraVe sales increased 15.4% while established brands like Gold Bond Ultimate and Vaseline saw sales decrease 1.5% and 10.9% respectively.

What the market is seeing now are major beauty brands dipping their toes into the affordable beauty market by launching their own affordable brands and snatching up established affordable brands. This recent rash of acquisitions indicates just how much of an impact affordable beauty brands have made in the industry and how well they’ve been able leverage social media and so-called micro-influencers to better connect with consumers, says Nicolas Krafft.

CeraVe, for example, has been able to take full advantage of the reach of TikTok, oftentimes passively. After gaining the support of popular skincare Youtuber, Hyram Yarbro, the affordable skincare brand watched as its popularity began to skyrocket, eventually leading it to become one of the most popular products lines among Gen Z-ers on TikTok. It’s no longer just celebrities that drive sales or social media popularity for brands. Young people trust their friends and what their friends trust, and they get that information on social media. CeraVe’s popularity is the modern age’s version of word-of-mouth and they have capitalized on it to become one of the most popular affordable skincare brands in the world.

That is not to say, however, that celebrities aren’t playing a role in the increased popularity of affordable beauty. Celebrities, like supermodel Gigi Hadid are driving consumer interest in cheaper skincare and makeup products by announcing via TikTok and Instagram that the brands they swear by are the ones that can be procured at the local drug store or supermarket. Hadid, for example, told Teen Vogue that she has relied on skincare products from CVS since she was a teen and a couple of her favorite products are the St. Ives Apricot Scrub and the Neutrogena Grapefruit scrub.

When award-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion went to the Grammy’s, she did her own makeup and shared her go-to favorites, including the So Fierce! Prismatic Eyeshadow Palette from Revlon ($10.99 at Ulta) and the So Fierce! Chrome Ink Liquid Eyeliner from Revlon ($10.99 at Ulta). Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys wore her hair up in a ponytail for the 2021 NAACP Image Awards and achieved her bouncy locks with the help of Dark & Lovely Hair Hydrator, according to her hairstylist.

Former L’Oréal executive Nicolas Krafft says that celebrities sharing their beauty secrets online has helped bring star status to a number of affordable, accessible products and given these drugstore finds more legitimacy. These are products that celebrities — and their stylists — love because they work. Affordability is just an added bonus.