The power of Beauty Tech

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Different from some other consumer sectors, the Beauty industry has been performing persistently well for years. One of the reasons is how it engages with all kinds of customers, from beauty-addicts to newbies, from big brand lovers to young, small business fans. In fact, these new independent brands are responsible for the constant shake-up in the $532 billion worth industry, frequently turning new ingredients and ideas into new trends.

But that doesn’t mean the big names are sitting and watching. We have seen an increasing number of acquisitions of smaller companies by major players at very high values – and they are not stopping anytime soon. These little disruptive businesses help big brands to stay on top of trends and inspire creativity for new launches. In this scenario, Beauty Tech plays a huge role.

Offering personalised services and routines has always been an important tactic to attract and retain customers in the industry. As the demand for customisation increases, the technology available becomes more affordable and beauty-friendly (in other words, fun). So, now comes the time for hyper-personalisation. While small brands are also looking at the blend between science & tech, most of the game-changing investments still come from big companies.

Procter & Gamble’s Olay is one of the brands that have been investing heavily in Beauty Tech. The Skin Advisor platform, where customers upload their photos and details about lifestyle, skincare regime and concerns, uses AI to provide personalised skincare analysis and recommendations through a number of applications – an investment that quickly proved successful. FaceNavi Smart Wand, their latest gadget, uses electromagnetic technology to apply individual ingredients into the skin with different vibration levels in each area, adapting the treatment according to customers’ needs. One of Olay’s most popular tools, the “Future You Simulation” uses a proprietary algorithm to show customers how they’ll look like in 20 years. By analysing high-resolution photos of 1,250 women from 5 different ethnic backgrounds aged between 10 and 80-years-old, the app can predict how the skin will age based on different scenarios and lifestyles.

Skin scanning apps are amongst some of the most interesting and popular launches within beauty tech – constant algorithm updates ensure the artificial intelligence behind it keeps improving, delivering impressively detailed reports. Neutrogena, for example, launched its successful Skin360 app last year, allowing customers to learn about their skin, track changes and get customised advice. Last month, during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the brand announced the MaskiD, which scans a customer’s face to 3D print personalised sheet masks with – guess what – customised concentrations of different products in each area of the face, as recommended by Skin360.

As skin scanning tools develop and perfect, more and more customers show interest for the technology, ultimately making it easier for brands to reach and engage. Our data shows that online search demand for such apps worldwide is increasing consistently, and the opportunities behind can be explored further.

When it comes to colour cosmetics, applications that use augmented reality to allow customers to virtually try on makeup are already available. Last year L’Oreal announced a new AR app by ModiFace and Sephora’s customers can now play at home with Virtual Artist. Before that, Estée Lauder had already partnered with AR company Perfect Corp. to provide a mobile training program for its beauty advisors.

We looked at global online sentiment towards AR makeup apps and general virtual makeup tools to identify its popularity. Unsurprisingly, this tech is well received by customers, with the majority of sentiment being positive or neutral, and peak of conversations (and excitement) observed whenever there’s a new launch. This indicates that this area can definitely be further invested in: just as it happens with skin scanning apps, virtual makeup tools need to improve constantly to build trust and induce new users.

Truth is, the Beauty public is always open to innovation and fun, and Beauty tech will impact this relationship even more. Engaging with customers and recommending the best personalised products for their skincare and makeup routines is just some of the benefits behind the investment in tech beauty. By analysing the data that comes directly from consumers, brands can better understand their needs and behaviour, and develop products and services that meet this demand. The same way AI is being used to predict how someone’s skin will age, it can also be used to predict industry trends.

While this might require new technology and a heavy, long-term investment in database development and analysis, onefourzero already uses information available online to understand the market and advise brands and investors. By cross-referencing a variety of data sources, onefourzero’s commercially-driven reports can forecast trends, risks and opportunities in every sector.

For more information on how onefourzero’s digital data & market analysis can help you understand a brand’s equity and leverage trends in your product and campaign development, click here or contact