For brands, creating a viral trend is the fastest way to gain exposure. THG’s haircare brand Grow Gorgeous has gone viral on TikTok after a micro-influencer documented her hair growth journey using her Intense line, which taps into the science-based haircare trend capillaries thanks to its use of niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, generally used in skin care. “The next day, the entire collection saw triple-digit daily growth on Look Fantastic, with one product in the range seeing an incredible 2,582% increase in searches,” says Horsefield.

TikTok influencers Stephanie Valentine, who goes by the name Glamzilla, and Mikayla Nogueira’s posts about Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Niacinamide Dew Drops have generated over 17 million combined views in 2021. Since then, the serum has is sold four times at retailers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. “We continue to see strong sales,” says Lee.

The strongest social media trends typically have a lifespan of three months, so it’s important to figure out which ingredients or terms on TikTok are short-term and fleeting and indicate the start of something special or a tidal wave phenomenon underway, says co-founder and co-CEO Alexia Inge. At Cult, it starts with the customer. “Our concierge team talks to them daily about their beauty journeys, concerns and needs – they are a wealth of information. We also review site behavior, sales data and search terms,” says- she.

THG keeps tabs on customers who trended to buy brands and products before they hit their peak trend, Horsefield says. “It means those who are aware of trends and it is through this cohort that we are also able to identify potential future trends.” In 2019, the retailer identified the bloat potential of a “relatively unknown” brand through its customer research, then saw sales increase by more than 1,000% in one year. THG monitors trends in real time using social listening tools and first-party data collected through THG Ingenuity, an end-to-end platform that powers brand websites.

Innovation through products

Consumer enthusiasm for ingredients has paved the way for ingredient-focused brands such as Deciem, acquired by Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) in 2021. Deciem, with its six brands – The Ordinary, Niod, Hylamide, the Chemistry Brand, Hif and Loopha – made approximately $460 million in revenue in the 12 months ending January 2021, according to an ELC statement. Another ingredient-led brand, The Inkey List, told beauty publication Glossy it was on its way to becoming a $100 million brand.