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Beauty Inc Awards: The 2023 Category Builders of the Year

Category Builder of the Year

Hair: P&G Beauty

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Forget good hair days. P&G Beauty had a great hair year. With a broad portfolio that encompasses megabrands like Pantene, medicated brands like Head & Shoulders, Gen Z darling Aussie and niche brands like Nou, P&G Hair Care attained market leadership position in the U.S. in 2023, in both value and volume share growth. Its acquisition of the explosive textured hair-care brand Mielle Organics in June only solidified that position, while Native, the direct-to-consumer brand it acquired in 2017, added fuel to the fire with its successful foray into hair care. Together, the two brands are the fastest growing hair-care names in the U.S. But P&G is also winning with its heritage brands, like Head & Shoulders, which launched Bare, a clinically proven formula that fights dandruff with just nine ingredients, and Herbal Essences, who inked a partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew to certify its ingredients.

Skin: Glow Recipe
For the first nine months of 2023, prestige skin care was the fastest growing category in beauty based on units sold. And chances are that Glow Recipe is the brand driving much of that growth. Founded by Christine Chang and Sarah Lee in 2014, Glow Recipe has hit its stride, with sales estimated to reach $300 million in 2023 thanks to star products like Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, which on its own was projected to hit sales of $42 million. The brand is a Gen Z heavyweight — #GlowRecipe has more than 1.3 billion views on TikTok — but it also expanded its purview this year with Pomegranate Peptide Firming Serum, whose sales were expected to reach $15 million. Its social media stats are equally as impressive: CreatorIQ reports it has ranked as the top skin care brand in EMV for the past two years — with its 2023 EMV double that of 2018. Talk about a glow up.

Makeup: Charlotte Tilbury

The stars are aligned at Charlotte Tilbury — and not just because of brand ambassadors like Bella Hadid, Kate Moss and — most recently — Elton John. In a red-hot makeup market, the brand was the third-largest share gainer, and its social media clout is equally as impressive, with the second highest EMV of any other beauty brand at $440 million, a double-digit increase year-over-year. In a strong year for makeup, Charlotte Tilbury was a standout, helping make parent company Puig a powerhouse in makeup. Still, innovation continues to be the name of the game, whether that’s a new app that serves as a handy hub for makeup tutorials or a launch like Airbrush Flawless Lip Blur liquid lipstick, bringing the brand’s number-one franchise into a new category. Tilbury’s favorite saying is “Give someone the right makeup and she can conquer the world” and she has effectively made that maxim true to life.

Fragrance: Dior

When it comes to fragrance, Dior is going for the gold. The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned luxury brand refreshed its storied J’Adore franchise this year with L’Or, the first creation from the house’s new master perfumer, Francis Kurkjdian. At the same time, it celebrated the heritage and history of J’Adore, which launched in 1999, with a sweeping show at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Combined with Dior’s bestselling men’s scent, Sauvage, the company has emerged as the fragrance category power player that adroitly leverages its history while always staying on the cutting edge of now. And what’s not to adore about that?

Brand Builder of the Year

Mary van Praag, Chief Executive Officer, Milani Cosmetics

Mary Van Praag
Mary Van Praag

When industry veteran Mary van Praag joined Milani Cosmetics as chief executive officer, COVID-19 was in full swing and the mass color category was down 20 percent. Undaunted, Van Praag harnessed her trademark energy and got to work. She assembled a top leadership team, refocused the business to its core competency of color cosmetics, doubled down on its hero products (Make It Last Setting Spray is up 70 percent) and built back relationships with its key retailers. The strategy paid off. Fast forward three years and Van Praag has turned the business around. Milani is the only independent brand to rank in the top 10 in mass color, with sales up 30 percent this year to an estimated $200 million.  Milani is winning with Millennials, thanks to savvy social media campaigns like “NoFilterJustMilani that supported the launch of a 45-strong shade range of concealers. For van Praag, the success lies in the prowess of her team. “I recognized that it probably just didn’t have the right execution on the key elements to drive a vibrant, growing mass color brand,” she said earlier this year, noting that moving forward the company is hyper-focused on the in-store experience, too. “It’s a combination of core architecture, innovation and compelling communication.”

Newsmaker of the Year: E.l.f. Beauty

E.l.f. Beauty
E.l.f. Beauty

E.l.f. Beauty kicked off 2023 with a buzzy Super Bowl ad and it continued its oversized success story throughout the year. The company notched up its 19th straight quarter of growth under CEO Tarang Amin, making it one of only five publicly traded companies to do so. Its quarterly sales increases were eye-popping: up 76 percent for the three months ended Sept. 30, for example, after posting a 78 percent increase for the quarter ending March 31. While it was focused on its core business, E.l.f. also has an eye to future expansion, snapping up the hot skin care brand Naturium for a cool $355 million as part of its broader strategy to become a key player in skin care. International expansion was also on the docket this year, with European expansion via Douglas.  E.l.f. also launched on TikTokShop, the platform where it has become the poster child for success. If that sounds like a lot to accomplish in a year — well, that’s just how Amin, who has instilled agility, innovation and equity as core company values, likes it. The goal: to work at the speed of culture. “It’s less about the time as much as we are able to take the energy of the team and make good ideas happen faster,” he told Beauty Inc earlier this year. “It’s the unique ability of balancing speed, quality and costs. Most companies usually pick one or two of the three,” he continued. “It’s our insistence that we need all three.”

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