Skin and Bones

Collagen has been up-and-coming as a beauty ingredient for the past few years, both for topical uses such as lotions and shampoos and in ingestible configurations such as protein powder, tea, and bone broth. Lately, licensed properties, especially celebrities, have been jumping into the collagen space with short-term collaborations, long-term licensing deals, joint product development, promotions and endorsements, or some combination of the above:

  • Earlier this month, gymnast Gabby Douglas paired with The Smoothie King for Stretch & Flex smoothies in tart cherry and pineapple kale flavors. The products contain a proprietary blend of collagen and are billed as promoting joint health and flexibility. At the launch, the chain’s new and existing Healthy Rewards members could claim a free smoothie for a two-day period, which entered them into a drawing for one of 15 pieces of Douglas-signed Smoothie King merchandise, including backpacks, yoga mats, and the like, as well as a $100 gift card.
  • Also this month, British Vogue collaborated with Elemis London for a £120 Glow Edit beauty box curated by the publication’s beauty and lifestyle director. All the products in the box, which featured a range of samples and three full-size packages, promoted healthy skin. One of the items in the assortment was Elemis’ Pro-Collagen Marine Oil, an anti-wrinkle product that is infused with three seaweeds.
  • Khloe Kardashian partnered with New Zealand company Dose & Co., whose premium products were already available in Australia and New Zealand, upon its launch in the U.S. market in fall 2020. The collaboration expanded into the U.K. this month, available exclusively through Holland & Barrett shops. The premium collagen products are part of a seven-item range of collagen creamers and protein powders.
  • Gemma Collins, known for her role on the British reality series The Only Way is Essex and an entrepreneur with a clothing line, paired with London Aesthetics Co. in 2020 to develop collagen supplement capsules (retailing for £65) and a collection of skincare products (£250) under the GemmaCollagen brand. The products are billed as promoting skin health, hair regrowth, and stronger joints.
  • Back in 2019, another Kardashian, Kourtney, launched her Poosh lifestyle brand, an extension of her blog of the same name, through a collaboration with Vital Proteins for two collagen powders. (Vital Proteins also counts Jennifer Aniston among its endorsers.) Blueberry and Lemon Collagen Vibes, formulated for a morning cold drink, and Pink Moon Milk Collagen Latte, for use as an evening hot beverage, were developed exclusively for Kardashian’s Poosh site and marked the lifestyle brand’s first foray into products.

Collagen accounts for about one-third of the protein in the human body and is a component of bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, teeth, corneas, and blood vessels, among other body parts. Its roles range from being a key component of the body’s structure to promoting blood clotting. More importantly from a beauty perspective, it keeps hair, teeth, joints, and especially skin looking and feeling young. Collagen production in the body decreases with age. This has led to an increased desire for products containing collagen, typically sourced from fish, cows, or pigs, in the hopes of replacing some of what has been lost. There is some skepticism on the part of health and beauty professionals about whether these products really make a difference, however.

Global demand for collagen was forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% from 2020 to 2027, according to Grandview Research. The company notes that its prediction, formulated prior to the pandemic, will likely need to be tempered somewhat due to the impact of COVID-19, in part because of supply chain issues in 2020. On the other hand, it should be noted that skincare was one category within beauty that has flourished during the crisis. Despite any disruptions, collagen-containing products seem destined to remain a viable category for relevant brands for some time to come, thanks to humans’ quest for a youthful appearance.

Meanwhile, in another sign of the mainstreaming of collagen, a few related brands have been involved in outbound collaborations. Beauty in the Pot, a Singapore restaurant chain specializing in collagen hotpots, paired with Uniqlo for a Uniqlo x Beauty in the Pot: Kawaii Friends capsule collection of four t-shirts during this year’s Chinese New Year. Available for a month, the collaboration also included a limited-edition hotpot made with Ebiko Wasabi Prawn Paste, which was 50% off for BITP customers wearing one of the t-shirts. Members of Beauty in the Pot owner Paradise Group’s loyalty club conversely received 10% off the t-shirts at Uniqlo. There have also been some collaborations globally, including in China and New Zealand, involving the pairing of collagen-related brands and food and beverage brands.

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