Trends in Two Minutes continues its ongoing coverage of the trends of the pandemic and examines the evolving transformations to business and communications throughout APAC as markets continue to strive towards economic recovery – and how best to navigate each development.   

Trends in Two Minutes is a monthly bulletin of trends hitting businesses across
Asia-Pacific with a focus on marketing and communications. 
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Clean Beauty - Yours to Define?

Over the past eighteen months, interest in clean beauty has been steadily growing throughout both Asia and the world. However, the increased focus on health and wellbeing (and local, ethically sourced products) brought about by the pandemic has facilitated a significant increase in search interest and purchase priorities for consumers.

It connects multiple different trends, in addition to the aforementioned COVID-19 threads of health and supply chains. There’s long been a global trend towards countries banning the sale of cosmetic products tested on animals, for example – Australia implemented such a ban just this year and China has been planning a similar ban since 2019.

The complication, however, is that the definition of ‘clean beauty’ as a concept remains nebulous and subjective for many consumers. For some, it may encompass cruelty-free products. For others, organic ingredients. In some instances, it may relate to the lockdown-driven trend of ditching make-up in favour of skincare.

For brands and communicators, the advent of clean beauty may therefore represent both opportunity and insight. In the cosmetic space, there are currently a wide array of potential pathways to leverage the interest in clean beauty. But, beyond that, the trend emphasises consumers’ increasing desire, post-COVID for products that align with their values.

The Post-COVID Architecture Shift – Are You Ready?

It’s not widely known that much of modern architecture owes its aesthetics and design to tuberculosis. The minimalist, boxy layouts and airy, light, clean metal fixtures associated with today’s offices and residential buildings evolved from an architectural shift to austere, functional, hospital-inspired spaces to combat tuberculosis in the early twentieth century.

The needs arising from tuberculosis in earlier centuries are very much comparable to those of the current pandemic. Once known as ‘the white plague’, tuberculosis, by the time of the 1800s, had already been responsible for 14% of deaths in recorded history. Given the similar scope, COVID-19 is driving similar shifts in architecture.  

Design changes are already afoot. Many supermarket brands, for example, have already restructured their outlets to create one-way pathways for consumers to better enforce social distancing. But, more drastic, long-term shifts will unfold throughout numerous business sectors – redesigned office spaces, airports, hotels, and more.  

Throughout these shifts, consultation, communication, and change management will be essential for brands. At their core, these shifts in architecture are reflective of shifts in values and needs. If not effectively communicated across the stakeholder mix, they may not reflect those values as planned – and lead to backlash for businesses.

The New Cool of Hygiene Products in 2020

When face masks became synonymous with COVID safety throughout the world, designers, artists and brands rapidly capitalised – with major brands, DIY crafters, and everyone in between creating fashion-friendly mask designs that reflected consumer needs, tastes, and political stances.

It’s a likely harbinger of what’s to come for other hygiene products in 2020. Unsurprisingly, interest in hygiene products has skyrocketed over the past six months. China’s major ecommerce outlets, for example, have seen a 181% year-on-year growth in hygiene-related searches and purchases.

As the pandemic continues, hygiene products are likely to, much like masks, transform from functional necessities to lifestyle products and fashion choices. There have already been glimpses of the shift in the trend of alcohol beverage brands pivoting to produce hand sanitiser early in the pandemic – some distilleries branded their sanitiser as new products.

For brands and communicators, hygiene products shifting into lifestyle and fashion categories represents a multitude of opportunities. From launching new products to licensing and merchandise to accessing new markets and demographics, the new cool of hygiene will be a key hotspot for brand engagement for the foreseeable future.     

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