Just like in other industries, technology is continuously changing how the user is incorporated into the beauty product shopping experience. The combination of technology, data, and beauty products have created a new level of personalization. When I started looking into this topic, I discovered there is a range of technology that has already changed the game, is currently changing the game and even some that will likely change the game even further.
The incorporation of augmented reality and virtual reality have already made a big difference. These features allowed brands to upgrade a customer’s shopping experience by easing their selection process and improving their understanding of the products. Brands such as Estee Lauder, Nyx, Sephora, bareMinerals, and others have developed apps that allow you to virtually try their products. By submitting a picture or using your camera as a scanner, the apps allow you to visualize yourself with that lipstick or eyeshadow color. It makes makeovers easier and encourages new product purchases. Meanwhile, MAC and Sephora have provided a similar experience with mirrors in their stores that allow users to see themselves with the product on. With technology from leading innovator Modiface, the mirror uses 3D video makeup rendering technology to create an impressive degree of realism. If this doesn’t impress you, that must mean you’ve never been in a makeup store and gotten tired after trying on just a few shades of a lipstick, only to still not find one you like. There could be so many options left but it takes forever to apply and remove each one! The ease provided by this technology is incredibly useful. (Side note, I really hope a lot of you have watched friends and appreciate the below reference)
Beyond apps and mirrors, the more recent game changers are making strides by incorporating data into their products. (No surprise there) Brands are taking data on customers, their experiences, their problems and more to pair them with the right product. In December 2017, Estee Lauder partnered with Google Home to bring consumers access to the “Nighttime Expert”. Users can talk to the Google Assistant on their Google Home and ask to speak to the Estee Lauder Nighttime Expert who will then provide personalized nighttime skincare routines through a set of questions and answers. Estee Lauder’s specialized research and beauty care experience paired with Google’s immense pool of data and capacity for analysis make the partnership seem promising. Along the same lines, other brands like Sephora and L’Oreal have developed chatbots to be used within the Facebook messenger app. Customers can interact with the bots in order to help them find the perfect product. The AI technology in the bots can discuss needs briefly with the customer and then provide options. The brands are also simultaneously tapping into a large pool of consumers by partnering with Google and Facebook. And the makeover doesn’t stop there!
Brands are going even further with their use of technology to stay ahead and maintain a competitive advantage. It seems the next step is to develop superior products that can do all the above, do it better AND provide better solutions. Some companies that are working on this technology have not yet released their products but they have introduced the concepts at the annual CES conferences in Vegas.
At the 2017 conference, users were introduced to the HiMirror; a smart mirror that breaks down surface level flaws and provides routines to treat them. The mirror has the capacity to record and track your skin results over time, basically acting like a personal skin doctor without the office visits. In addition to the mirror, users can also purchase a hand-held scanner called HiSkin that allows for an analysis of deeper issues such as your skin’s cuticle moisture and pigmentation issues beneath the surface. At this same conference, Samsung also wowed with a similar product called the S-Skin. This scanner also analyzes and tracks your skin results but it also goes one step further and offers immediate treatment for some issues. The LED scanner has different light settings that can be used to treat dark spots and purify complexion. It also comes with microneedle patches that are applied to your skin and penetrate it with special ingredients to treat blemishes and wrinkles as needed. At the same time, the microneedles measure hydration, redness, and melanin to contribute to the final analysis. At CES 2018, Neutrogena introduced their concept for a skin scanner. It is a product you can attach to the top of your phone to scan your face and evaluate your skin health. A combination of sensors creates a magnified image of your face which goes beyond the capabilities of your iPhone camera to get deeper and more accurate. The information is then transferred to an app on which you are provided an evaluation of your skin needs and the Neutrogena products that will cater to those same needs.
These products are yet to be released but their use could really reshape the beauty industry. They are creating a guided consumer experience that provides a breadth of information analysis and recommendations along the way. With this amount of understanding available, more customers will have access to products that really provide what they need and the knowledge on how to use them without a visit to a specialist, whether that be a dermatologist or makeup artist. Particularly with skin care, beauty is becoming more about health and resolving the issue at the root of each skin care concern. The technology is providing knowledge on issues you may have even known were causing a difference. But now that you do, you can treat them if you so desire! All that being said, I can’t wait to try some of these products.