Real Beauty

April 30, 2014: Real Beauty

Late last week celebrity magazine Us Weekly was accused of photoshopping a cover picture of Britain’s Prince George. The magazine denies it, but told Time magazine it had to give the photo “an overall color shift for printing purposes.” (Look at the photo and decide for yourself.)

But the controversy underscores one of the 10 Top trends for 2014 from JWT Intelligence—Proudly Imperfect, which the global marketing firm defines as “embracing imperfection as something that’s more unique and authentic.” A poll they conducted last fall reveals that 76 percent of Millennials find “beauty in people’s flaws, and 85 percent believe people’s flaws make them seem more authentic.” (Not that Prince George has any imperfections—he’s one cute baby.)

Many big brands have jumped on board the trend, led by Dove, which launched its “Campaign for Real Beauty” 10 years ago. Aerie, a lingerie brand from American Eagle targeting 15-21 year-old young women, introduced its spring campaign promising, “No more retouching our girls and no more supermodels.”

More and more consumers are demanding authenticity from the companies they do business with. They want to see and hear from people (whether sales personnel—remember the Abercrombie & Fitch controversy—or in marketing materials) who they can relate to. As JWT Intelligence advises, businesses “will need to walk the line between aspirational ideals and more relatable imagery.”