The highly competitive beauty and cosmetics industry is undergoing a new radical change, one that is spurred by consumer technology. Such is the trend that a whole slew of independent brands have sprung up over the past two years, challenging the status quo of the beauty industry. The fundamental shift beyond 2018 will be of consumer technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR), continuing to make new devices available that were till now beyond the realm of consumers, and available only to professionals.
There is no single demographic that is driving this new wave. In addition to one key demographic includes young women, the other segments include young men as well as elderly consumers.
Some of the key drivers enabling this new wave of consumer technology include:
The surge in beauty consciousness across demographics;
The rising affluence of a breed of confident and connected millennial women;
The increasing trend of teens and young adults shopping online, and ignoring the need for assistance from trained assistants at beauty stores;
The urge to undertake personalized beauty and cosmetic services in the confines of their home.
Lack of time or the inclination to splurge at dermatological clinics.
The beauty technology market is witnessing a confluence of electronics majors, as well as beauty companies, and an array of promising startups driving the trend.
The advent of Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Seamless Video portend a period of explosive growth for tech-fueled beauty.
Some of the devices and applications that consumer technology in beauty and cosmetics have already hit, or about to enter the consumer market, include devices such as lasers for eradicating skin blemishes and freckles; sheet masks that absorb faster and make the skin glow; a helmet that provides nutrition to hair roots and prevents hair loss; a smart and easy new way to track UV exposure through patches; a device to cure acne that works by eradicating bad bacteria in the skin; a vibrating skin cleanser that deploys ultrasonic technology for cleaning pores from the inside. Interestingly, LED Masks, deployed by dermatologists in professional clinics, is now available at home for consumers to enhance their skin elasticity.
The beautyAI market is now seeing interest from beauty companies, including L’Oreal, Shiseido, Unilever, J&J, as well as home electronics players, such as LG, Philips, Toshiba, among others.
L’Oreal recently acquired ModiFace Skin AI, a company founded in 2016. ModiFace utilizes Artificial Intelligence to enable consumers to render several different skin, makeup, and hair effects with mobile apps using video or photo capabilities. Going beyond mere standard try-on experience, ModiFace has enabled live streaming integrations, as well as a Facebook Messenger tool and a live tutorial display that breaks a complex makeup routine into individual steps.
Last year, Shiseido acquired Giaran, a research lab spinoff from Northeastern University by Artificial Intelligenceexpert, Raymod Fu. Using its simulation technology, Giaran helps consumers to apply and remove make-up virtually using their phones or computers. This enables consumers to shop online, by seeing how they look before making purchase.
Estée Lauder collaborated with Google’s Google Assistant in launching the ‘Nighttime Expert’, an app that enables personalized nighttime skincare routine for consumers using a chat experience.
Samsung’s C-Lab has developed S Skin, a handheld device that analyzes the human skin using cameras, photosensors, as well as conductivity sensors to identify and measure the level of hydration, melanin and redness of the skin. S Skin integrates micro-needle patches that contain ingredients such as collagen, and penetrates the skin to deliver skincare products directly. A Companion app records changes over time.
The C-Lab at Samsung has also developed other devices, such as the Lumini. Lumini is a handheld device that takes the picture of the face, and then goes on to identify common skin issues including pimples, freckles, and other skin problems, and recommending cosmetic products based on the analysis. Lumini also provides additional value drivers, such as a customized remote consulting service with a dermatologist or a skincare specialist.
LVMH announced La Maison des Startups, a initiative to enable startup entrepreneurs at Niel’s Paris-based campus for new companies. LVMH will support entrepreneurs developing technologies and services for perfumes and cosmetics as well as wine, fashion and other LVMH businesses.
Beyond virtual experience, AR is enhancing in-store experience for consumers. For instance, Coty’s latest in-store feature, a Magic Mirror, uses AR, and is activated as soon as a consumer takes a product off the shelf. Enabling a customer to experiencing the product before purchasing it, helps Coty to convert many potential customers.
Perfect Corp partnered with Amway to launch The Artistry Virtual Beauty App, that redefines customer shopping experience by enabling them to test, experiment and purchase >150 make-up SKUs in an instant. The App also provides customized product recommendations from Perfect’s skin care range.
J&J owned Neutrogena launched a device called SkinScanner that attaches itself to a smartphone. By using a combination of sensors, the device analyzes the facial skin, and backs-up results on an app, Skin360. Based on the health condition of the facial skin, the app will provide customized suggestions on improving skin using Neutrogena’s products.
All the current research trends point to a future of enhanced personalization in the beauty market, wherein the customer will have recourse to beauty treatments from the comforts of their home.