Big Data and Beauty Trends

Google released a skincare trends report recently, based on google search data compiled from September 2014 to September 2016. The report looks at the trends of 3 countries and their popular search terms: France, Japan, and the U.S. We try to extrapolate and interpret the data.

How It Works

Google's report is intended for marketers primarily, but offers important insights for everyday consumers as well. We want to look at the most common skincare concerns, and what people from different markets are looking for (via google search). Google's report looks at the most common skincare related searches that people from the U.S, Japan, and France are looking at, and whether they are trending up or down. The data for upward and downward trends are broken down into 3 patterns:

Sustained: Steady incline or decline in recent years1. Upward trends show stable but gradual incline in popularity and interest while declines trend the other way.

Seasonal: Trends of search terms that spike seasonally. Inclines show a likely larger bump next season while declines will trend downwards next season.

Stars: These are short bursts of extreme growth but may not have longevity. Inclines show hot trends while declines are likely entering a fizzle out phase.

*We've taken the top 5 of a longer list of trends. Also, we are looking at the dataset only for rising trends. For the full list, please read the pdf. For the purposes of this article, we are looking at top skincare concerns against the search trends of these markets.

Top Skincare Concerns by Market

We first look at the most common concerns across different markets. The data shows that with the exception of Japan, skincare concerns are relatively uniform. Acne seems to be a universal concern, with hyperpigmentation and skin lightening more of a concern among the Asian population. It's also interesting that oily skin is seen as the dominating concern in France and the U.S. while sensitive skin seems to be more predominant in Japan.

United States France Japan
Acne Blackheads Acne
Blackheads Acne Whitening
Oily Skin Oily Sensitive
Hydration Dry Darkening
Clear Skin Age

Sustained Risers

Sustained or "stable" is relative, as we are still talking about search trends within a 24 month timespan. We need to keep in mind that within a fast-moving industry like skincare, it's been stable compared to super-short term trends. We can see some divergence in trends here. Japan appears to be product or technology oriented, interested in new ideas and new science (these are search terms so it's undefined whether the science does support them), France is about natural or organic products, and the U.S. is more diverse with some innovative products, some about ethnic skincare or vegan or cruelty-free skincare.

United States France Japan
Epsom Salt Bath Organic Coconut Oil Cleansing
Apple Cider Vinegar Bath Dermaroller All-in-one Gel
Korean Skincare Organic Castor Oil Sheet Mask
Turmeric Mask Aloe Vera Cream Water Peeling
Vegan Skincare Face Exfoliant Carbonated Cleansing

Seasonal Risers

Seasonal simply means repeating patterns of an uptick according to the time of year. In some cases, like bath bombs, the seasonality is clear (people tend to enjoy baths more often in the colder months), while in others, like Aloe Vera gel, the connection is less clear. Masks seem to be very popular in Japan with some sake (rice wine) rising as a popular skincare ingredient. Cellulite seems to be both a bigger concern in France, as well as a seasonal pattern (more concerned as warmer weather approaches). The U.S. is again, quite diverse. Vegan and concern for animal welfare in general is an overall trend here.

United States France Japan
Bath Bombs Marseille Soap Whitening Cream
Face Brush Facial Brush Sake Lotions
Organic Castor Oil Green Clay Poultice Wiping Lotion
Aloe Vera Plant Aloe Vera Gel Clay Mask
Vegan Body Wash Anticellulite Oil Whitening Mask

Rising Stars

Rising stars or hot trends show the latest trends and the fastest growth rates (in searches). They are "untested" in the sense that the trend may be gone as quick as it came. Masks are a clear trend in 2017, showing up prominently in the U.S. searches, and also in France. In Japan, outside the carbonated face wash, the others searches seem generic rather than as a lookout for a specific product trend.

United States France Japan
Charcoal Mask Blackhead Mask Hot Cleansing
Peel-off Face Mask Bathball Carbonated Face Wash
Sheet Mask Organic Jojoba Oil Pore Cotton Swab
24k Gold Mask Charcoal Mask Cleansing Balm
Charcoal for Skin Charcoal Face Mask Handmade Soap

Patterns in Searches

Google reported a few insights about the search trends, notably:

Values and priorities differ across cultures: In the US and France bathing is an experience and personalized. In Japan, the science behind the products are prioritized. In Japan, removing hyperpigmentation is a big concern (where 95%+ of the population is Japanese who are more prone to darkening).

Trends cross borders faster now: Masks were hot in Japan before it crossed to the US and then later to France. Look abroad for near-future trends as the "distance" between markets seem to be narrowing with greater access to products and greater communication (thanks Google). Users are actively searching up terms like "Asian Skincare" meaning that marketers are taking notes. Carbonated cleansers and masks may be soon to hit the North American markets in the coming years or even months.

Each market has its own needs and idiosyncrasies: In one example, Cellulite is searched 30 times more in France than the US and 170 times more than in Japan. This particular search spikes in May with warmer weather, so certainly trends are in part, determined by what people are concerned about.

Top 5 searches for Ingredients

US: Clay, aloe vera, charcoal, gold, cocoa butter
France: Aloe vera, coconut oil, hyaluronic acid, micellar water, donkey milk
Japan: Enzyme, ceramide, vitamin C, water, clay

Top 5 searches for Ingredients

US: Mask, soap, lotion, oil, scrub
France: Gel, cream, soap, mask, oil
Japan: Face wash, mask, cleanser, serum, cream

Google also noted consistent patterns and increases that were still too small to make it into the top searches. The term "men's skincare" while still a very small segment, is clearly on the rise in all 3 markets. We'll leave it here for you to digest the data, but we'd like to come back to analyzing deeper into the data again in the future.


1 It's important to note that declining terms are usually still very popular. It’s required that a declining product be popular for it to decline in the first place.