Beauty industry expert, Wendy Lewis, attended last week’s FIT Capstone event. Here’s what she saw:

A booming men’s market, beauty retail franchises and a plethora of gender identifications–not to mention skin tones–will define and direct the beauty market in 2030, according to research presented by the 2014 graduates of FIT’s Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management Master of Professional Studies. The students showcased their findings at the annual Capstone presentation—their culminating project—attended by 700 industry execs on June 4.

In partnership with Unilever U.S., the Capstone explored The Changing Face of the Beauty Consumer. “This particular topic could not be more appropriate for this moment in time,” said keynote speaker Gina Boswell, Executive Vice President Personal Care, Unilever NA. “The changing face of the beauty consumer may be the single largest factor to affect our industry in the coming years.”

The student research comprised three key areas: Accessible Beauty, The New Beauty Consumer and Men’s Beauty.

Accessible Beauty

“Accessibility is not a fad, it’s something that companies at all levels need to be aware of, and must be a part of,” said group leader Jessica Dudley, Director, Lancôme. Even more than today, consumers will be connected by technology and make purchase decisions based on convenience, clarity and cash. By 2030, global poverty will decline by 50%, yet many developed economies are projected to remain flat. Given the tighter budgets and intense connectivity, the group dubbed future consumers

Progressive Rationalists.

The students proposed a new marketing model called the Progressive Consumption Equation: [function + higher order need] + performance = purchase. In addition to being fully aware of a product’s benefits, these consumers want to their purchase to better the world in some way and demand radical transparency regarding a company’s philanthropy, profits, and resources. Point of purchase must be inherently easy and the student’s used the franchise success of Subway restaurants as a future model for beauty.

The New Beauty Consumer

“By 2050, the largest ethnic group in the US will be mixed ethnicity,” said group leader Roshini Greenwald, Assistant Vice President of Sales Development, Kiehl’s Since 1851. And for the first time in history people aged 65 and older will outnumber the young. “Others” are on the rise, the research showed, and the current segmentation model of race, sex, age, and geography will not apply for marketing beauty. The students predicted that by 2030, race will be replaced by cultural values, gender identities will significantly broaden, age will evolve into cross-generational interests and no longer define product needs, and belonging to a community will no longer be determined by geography.

Their recommendations for reaching the new consumer include establishing a cultural exchange, using real life situations to connect with purchasers in ads and collateral, and engaging marketing and sales teams in identifying consumer insights.

Men’s Beauty

“Last year, China claimed rank as the largest men’s skin care market in the world with an incredible 280% growth,” said group leader Simone Bolotin, Director of US Public Relations, Coty Prestige. In comparison, the U.S. men’s skincare market lags way behind and has only grown 7%.

The students described the U.S. men’s beauty market as being at a tipping point and presented an innovative model symbolized by a masculine theme of gears. The “Ignite” gear is about identifying authentic needs and showing men the consequences of not taking care of the skin. “Steer” refers to leveraging key influencers such as family and peers; “Fuel” utilizes imagery that reflects the changing definition of masculinity, including the tender side; and the “Accelerate” gear recommends focusing on one hero product at a time to build momentum.

As part of their matriculation, the master’s degree students developed White Papers on their topics, which are available here.