Personalisation In The Cosmetics Sector

Businesses leading the way in personalisation will dominate

Tailoring products and services to the customer is becoming a business necessity. Arguably, this is especially important when a customer is directly applying that product to their skin. The health and beauty industry is based on a culture of personal care, making it the perfect breeding ground for both personalisation and customisation. But how is technology fuelling the expansion of custom cosmetics, and how is it advancing customer focused business models?

Enter your ‘AI-von’ representative. . .

The global health and beauty industry is booming, with global cosmetic sales set to hit $675bn by 2020. Considering the sheer number of products and services touted by cosmetic brands, as well as humanity’s undeniable vanity, this makes complete sense. As successful as beauty brands may be, catering to customers requirements on an individual level is still some way off. . . for the majority of them, at least.

Proven and Curology are two emerging beauty tech companies that use machine learning techniques to create bespoke products. After filling out a short questionnaire, customers receive a formula based on their individual skin type, skin goals, age, and other personal metrics. Curology adds a medical level to data collection by directly aiming to reduce acne. Even the Internet of Things is bringing greater digitalisation to health products – Japanese company Shiseido has created an IoT skincare system that tracks mood, environment, and biological changes to come up with specific serums. The service is due to launch later this year. Big Beauty companies like L’Oréal are also getting in on the action. The company’s Makeup Genius app uses Augmented Reality to enable customers to try out virtual cosmetics before buying them, theoretically streamlining the process of finding the right item. Amazon Echo Look currently does the same for clothes, but it wouldn’t be too big a leap for the tech giant to transition into beauty too.

Disrupted vanity

Innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things, are providing vast data sets transforming the beauty industry and making products more precise than ever. The industry has long relied on the power of its brands and their marketing reach, but we’re now starting to see the adoption of personalisation strategies that centre on the individual. Startups like Proven, Curology and Shiseido are challenging the industry’s incumbents by fully committing themselves to innovative new technologies.

While increased tech use could reduce the human element that has been so vital to traditional health and beauty recommendations, cosmetics companies still emphasise the importance of retaining the human touch. Proven, for instance, sends data to a cosmetic chemist who then crafts unique skincare solutions. Emphasising the creative input of specialists is a quaint gimmick – but, that being said, so is having a cosmetic bot that does exactly the same thing. Automation is likely to play a major role in facilitating mass personalisation, channelling specific data streams into product development and then shipping off the item from connected warehouses. This will rely heavily on the quality of data that is collected. Fortunately, the novelty, and the effectiveness of a totally personal product could mean that consumers are more willing to hand over data because they can visibly see the results. Moreover, disruption of the cosmetics industry presents another example of technology companies moving into different sectors ripe for disruption.

The changing face of the cosmetics industry reflects shifts impacting almost every industry. Advances in technology now give organisations access to unrivalled amounts of data allowing truly personalised products for every customer. Consumers are beginning to expect a stellar service based on their specific requirements, which is exactly what brands are now beginning to deliver. Of course, it’s not just the sector’s incumbents that are keeping their carefully lacquered fingers on the pulse. The rapid expansion of disruptive technology in beauty also begs the question. . . is there any sector that hasn’t yet got the opportunity to be optimised?

Will ambitious startups begin to step on the toes of the cosmetic giants? Should existing beauty companies look to partner with technology leaders to offer the best personalisation? Could quality personalised products entice customers to part with more data? Share your thoughts and opinions.