Maddie Cullen
8 August 2018

The global skincare industry is booming, and within that more and more people are opting for luxury products to take their routines to the next level.

So who’s trading up to premium products, and why? We pulled together a crack squad from across our planning and creative teams, and tasked them with taking an in-depth look into the UK consumers driving this growth.

You might expect the bulk of them to be older, affluent women. But actually, our research shows that the new luxury skincare consumer appears to fit into one of three core profiles.

So without further ado…

Meet Emily

luxury skincare young consumer


She’s 22 and just started her first real job earning £26K, which means time to splash out with this new and exciting disposable income! She’s single which means more time to focus on her own goals and sharing with friends keeps rent costs down.

Media Consumption

Emily’s phone is her life blood and keeps her life organised and connected. Leaving the house without it is not an option. Despite this her social media use is slightly below average. She’s too busy to be on Facebook all day and let’s be honest, she just wants to avoid the constant updates from her grandma. But that’s not to say she won’t get out her phone to snap a picture of her delicious brunch for Instagram.

When she’s got a day off, however, you can find Emily browsing YouTube to watch skincare hauls and chatty GRWMs.   


Most of her time is spent socialising with friends. Living in the city means there’s always something to do and she has a long list of people to join in on the fun.

Instagram picture brunch

And yet she still finds time to check back in with herself and always schedules time for some exercise to keep her mind, body and soul balanced. 

Shopping habits

Her disposable income is burning a hole in her pocket, but she’s still got the mindset of her teenage years and looks out for good deals. She wants to feel that she’s getting her money’s worth, especially when buying pricier products.

As her weekends are jam-packed, she researches and shops online at Amazon for skincare. She’s always open to new options as she hasn’t worked out a dedicated skincare routine yet. And what she does buy is entirely up to what she likes, but there are a couple of influencers on Instagram who introduce her to indie brands and new products.

Why shop premium?

Emily knows the long history of a few luxury brands, but it’s the uniqueness and quality that seals the deal for her. She wants to discover the next big thing and likes a brand that does something a little different.

When researching she looks for natural ingredients, but it’s not a deal breaker. Cruelty-free is very important though and she’s recently signed a petition to end animal testing. She also wants good quality products but will look around for coupons, and the products must be worth their price tag.


Beauty Pie skincare page               (Image: Beauty Pie)

The recent discovery of Beauty Pie was a game changer and she loves checking out the new deals each month to relax after a long day at work.

Brands on her radar

Aesop are one brand with customers like Emily firmly in their sights. They focus on product over story wherever possible, but when it comes to describing themselves they keep it simple and describe fitting into their surroundings. Their brand is understated and simplistic, which shows through in their campaigns. The ‘Skin and Environment: A Dialogue’ campaign used kinetic art of cardboard to represent skin reacting to environmental stressors. It’s abstract, but plays into the artistic, unique interests that Emily has.

Meet Sarah 

luxury skincare millennial consumer


She’s just turned 31 and shared a few Facebook memories from university to mark the occasion. This is much to the dismay of her obviously drunk friend Emma in the picture. (That 21st birthday was definitely one to remember).

She’s happy in her job and now earning £35k. The higher level of responsibility means she’s got more on, but she’s really hitting her stride with where her career is progressing.

Although it’s not ‘official’ yet, she’s been dating the same guy for a month or so now and it seems to be going really well. 

Media Consumption

If there’s one thing she loves, it’s tech. Her phone, laptop and tablet are always close to hand. She’s happiest when snapping pictures and videos on mobile to save her favourite memories.  And once those pictures have a cute filter on, it’s time to share them online.

Media of luxury consumer mobile and laptop

She’s a big social media user whether that’s keeping up with her friends on Facebook or sharing pictures on Instagram.

In fact, she spends around 26 hours a week online. Nothing beats browsing Pinterest for the latest in beauty news and she loves to research new ingredients and products. She follows all of her favourite brands online to keep up with any new products and news.

She’s also happy to comment and share her thoughts with others and has even thought about starting a makeup blog.


But it’s not just what she puts on her body, what she puts it in is just as important. She has a gym membership and attends regularly, health is really important to her. She recently splashed out on some new exercise gear and is going to show it off at the weekend when she grabs lunch with a friend after the workout.

healthy consumer

If she sees something she likes, she’s inclined to get it and shopping is a favourite Saturday afternoon activity. But she’s recently become aware of the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon and is starting to make better choices regarding the environment. Climate change is a big concern and she wants to be more environmentally friendly in the future.

Shopping habits

Sarah loves to shop online, but usually she’s just browsing. Scrolling for hours on end through product pages takes up too much time, so she’d rather buy in-store.

But she does likes to have an idea of what to get before going out, which means reading reviews and watching a few videos to see what people are saying. Although she’s happy chatting to an in-store employee and getting their opinion too. Whether a product is cruelty-free is also something she always checks before buying.

Why shop premium?

Sun damage is a big concern, so SPF and skin protectants are the first point of call for skincare. And she feels safer with a luxury product that will properly take care of her skin.

researching natural products articles

She’s recently read up on some of the damaging synthetic chemicals and is now steering towards natural ingredients where she can. But she won’t compromise on quality, so spends time researching brands.

Brands on her radar

Biossance, with its focus on natural and sustainable ‘non-toxic skincare’, goes after consumers like Sarah in a big way. Their ‘no compromise beauty’ message is about getting great results without using black-listed chemicals. They even have a clean beauty blog on their website. Sarah loves being able to read in-depth about the different ingredients and techniques before making a purchase.

Their past Mother’s Day campaign used mum-influencers in Brazil to launch the product over there. Although the majority of people like Sarah won’t have children yet, they’re looking ahead to the future. And working with mother’s shows how gentle and natural the products are as they’re even suitable for children’s sensitive skin.

Meet Claire

Gen X luxury skincare consumer


Claire is 37 and recently celebrated her 10th wedding anniversary. Her youngest daughter also just started school this year, so it’s been a few months full of milestones!

She’s at a management position in her job and earning £42k, and an £80k joint income with her husband. They’re looking at a kitchen renovation this year and can’t wait to start construction.

Media Consumption

She uses her phone a lot, it’s her main source of tech away from work and loves to keep up with everyone on Facebook. It’s great to be able to share memories with family and friends online.

Mobile consumer

She spends roughly 12 hours a week online and prefers to unwind by watching a film in the evenings.


She’s a big believer in health and wellness and was one of the first of her friends to buy a juicer. She doesn’t have a gym membership as she doesn’t have the time but attends a weekly class that helps her to keep exercise part of her routine. Any more than that and it would eat into her family time, which is really important to Claire.

Shopping habits

Her high income means she’s happy spending. She’s always loved shopping and puts time and care into her purchases. Luxury products are a serious must as the quality reigns supreme.

luxury shopping

She has her favourite brands and regularly checks out their latest products but has her die-hard favourite products too. Claire likes to shop in-store and chat to the staff as they know what’s best for her skin and her lifestyle.

Why shop premium?

The in-store experience is really important. Claire always visits the same few employees if she can as she likes that they know what she needs.

SPF is definitely important and she wants a product that works but isn’t greasy on her skin.

Skincare luxury                (Image: Beauty Editor)

She’s also read a couple of articles about various cosmetic ingredients and has started reading the back of packaging to see what she’s buying.

Brands on her radar

Clarins has recently made the jump to digital and launched their online store in the UK. But on it there is still info about their bricks-and-mortar locations and spas. They know that ‘Claires’ may check out the website but are less likely to buy from there. A little chatbot pop-up encourages them to ask questions or seek info in a direct way. The focus on customer service is still present even online as they know this is important to Claire.

Clarins store                (Image: Friday Magazine)

They released a campaign that revolved around #Worththewrinkle where they got celebrities and consumers to share what parts of life are worth it. This shows a move towards self-love and embracing your skin, which is something Claire appreciates.

But what about the guys?

Emily and Sarah could just as easily be Ethan and Steve, as their male peers follow similar habits and also take care of their skin. The male grooming industry is set to nearly double in size by 2024 with skincare leading the way. 60% of men aged 16-24 use a moisturiser and 41% of men aged 45-64 do too.

Male skincare              (Image: Gossip Mongers)

Although the market is still dominated by women, there is a shift starting to emerge with more gender-neutral options and products targeted specifically to men.

Whether it’s beard oils or SPF protectant, men want to stay well-groomed too.

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