When Boots announces its predictions for the biggest trends in beauty retail for the coming year, I think it’s wise to sit up and take notice.

The health and beauty retailer has at its fingertips information about the buying habits of its 15 million active loyalty card holders. It also analyses the internet browsing behaviour from its own website and for example knows that ‘price advantage’ (where Advantage cardholders get access to lower prices) is ranked as the top search term on boots.com.

Amongst the talk about the ‘hybrid high street’ and the rise of the ‘skintellectual’ in this year’s predictions, I was particularly interested to read Boots’ Beauty Director, Paul Niezawitowski, talk about the ‘lipstick effect’.

The ‘lipstick effect’ theory is simple. Consumers when facing a squeeze in their income will be more willing to buy less costly luxury goods, such as a good quality lipstick, instead of buying expensive purses, handbags or jewellery. Although this idea is not new, Boots says it is much wider than just lipstick with sales of cosmetics, haircare and skincare products at Boots rising year-on-year.

It goes without saying how important it is for retailers to understand their customers. The UK’s sector is very good at it - indeed it’s what makes it one of the most innovative and resilient in the UK. The prediction article by Boots however not only reveals some interesting trends for 2023, it also highlights the importance of making sure retailers manage their customer data correctly.

I spoke to one of Irwin Mitchell’s data protection and Consumer sector experts, Joanne Bone, to get her take on what retailers need to beware of at the moment.

She said: “Retailers who own a website or app using cookies will want to revisit their cookies compliance following best practice guidance on the design and characteristics of cookie banners from the European Data Protection Board. Website designers and developers will also need to ensure that cookies can be identified and rejected as required by the EDPB.

“The EDPB formed a Task Force late last year to look at the most common data protection complaints about cookies in order to provide a harmonised approach to cookie banners.

“The resulting guidance has come up with some clear “do and don’ts" that many cookie banners and websites don’t comply with.

“For example, a ‘reject all’ button should be used and pre-ticked boxes should not be used in cookie preference centres. In addition, cookie rejection buttons should not be hard to see and cookies can’t be categorised as ‘essential’ without justification.

“Although this is EU guidance and has not been adopted by the ICO, practically speaking, it is a rare business or organisation that expects only UK based visitors to their website Therefore, all website and app owners using cookies will want to take notice of the new guidance."

A more detailed look at these issues are explained in a more in depth here by Joanne Bone.