beauty and personal care toiletries aisle supermarket cosmetics shopper

Often, the best inspiration comes from unexpected places.

Within innovation, the beauty and personal care (BPC) industries have often borrowed from food. BPC goods use familiar, edible – and therefore safe – ingredients and a wealth of tantalising flavours help boost their appeal.

Both industries are collaborating in crucial areas. Italian pasta giant Barilla recently partnered with Parma-based beauty company Davines to source ingredients using regenerative agriculture. In the US, Origins skincare and upmarket grocer Erewhon have joined forces on a limited edition cold-pressed juice. 

But there is equally so much food and drink can learn from BPC, as our latest research has shown. Take the challenges food and drink companies are facing around sustainability, health and pleasure. These are also impacting BPC, but it is approaching solutions differently.

We know consumers won’t pay more for sustainable alternatives. Mintel research has found two-thirds of sustainable food and drink shoppers say the rising cost of living will make these products less important to them. The food and drink industry has appealed to consumers’ sense of community, their desire to be healthy, or their desire to look good in front of their peers to encourage them to buy sustainably. 

BPC, on the other hand, is accelerating investment in biosynthetics in the face of challenges around biodiversity and food production. See Deciem’s The Ordinary, which has championed transparency and affordability with great success. It advocates how synthetic ingredients and clean chemicals can benefit humans and the planet.

BPC also holds lessons when it comes to transparency and proof of efficacy. Consumers are increasingly lacking trust in functional food and drink, often due to unrealistic expectations. Here it could take lessons from the pointedly honest voice used by a growing number of BPC brands. For example, THIX Caffeine Shampoo promotes the science behind its formulas but warns: “If you are searching for a miracle cure, we’re sorry – we don’t make fake promises”.

BPC is also right in catering to consumer interest in health ingredients on a molecular level. Micronutrient content such as amino acids and vitamins has become prime marketing currency in health food and drink, and people will demand more detail, not less.

Then there is the element of indulgence. Although Mintel finds half of UK adults feel guilty after eating unhealthy food, consumers still expect food and drink companies to continue pushing the boundaries of indulgence.

Here they could learn from ‘scentscaping’, the art of decorating a space or room with scent to create different atmospheres. It’s a trend in fragrance, where functional scents are used by consumers to control their mood. Already used in some restaurants and through AirUp – the fast-growing water bottle company that adds flavour to water through scent – this tactic can manipulate the atmosphere of in-home mealtimes.

Food and drink can also learn from how BPC is adopting a clinical approach to dopamine release, including specific ingredients and visual stimuli.

While food and drink can be inspired by the ingredients, formats and marketing tactics seen in BPC, what’s more illuminating is how these adjacent industries are striving to elevate how consumers physically and emotionally experience their products to forge a human connection.

Amid the AI revolution, BPC and food and drink must take inspiration from each other’s focus on emotional human connection. As AI’s influence grows, the quality of these food and drink, and BPC experiences – how they are physically and spiritually ‘lived’ – is something brands must strive to elevate. Each industry can do this more effectively by learning from each other, and emotional connection will be the prize.