It seems almost counter-intuitive to consider the effect of technology on something so aesthetic in nature as cosmetics. However, at Lavandi Talent, we’ve seen that, like just about every other industry, cosmetics is responding to and embracing the potential opportunities offered by technological advances.
REALITY AS YOU WOULD LIKE IT TO BE
Artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly going to be a factor sooner rather than later. The level of sophistication and proliferation of AI in recent years cannot be ignored. At the consumer level, we are seeing reduced footfall in retail, but that brings with it a gap when it comes to the advisor. Replacing the advice and the informed response consumers love from in-store experts with an online equivalent is fraught with issues, the accuracy of the advice being one of them. However, the groundwork has already been done in this area and with a fair degree of success. Boots No7 range, for example, introduced their AI-based advisor some time ago now. Using a selfie as a baseline and some further information input by the user, the system makes recommendations about a range of cosmetic choices. True, it could be argued that this is response-based product selection rather than true intelligent response. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, though, we could see a much wider application. Consumers could soon be able to log in to a system that recommends an individually chosen range of products based on past buying habits, detailed skin analysis, desired look, current trends and fashions and any other influences the user wants to add. Informed recommendations such as these would require an element of aesthetic choice, but this kind of advance is only a short hop from current technology.
The obvious partner of AI in the beauty world would be, well, literally an individual beauty world. Augmented Reality (AR), the process of adding computer-generated results to the user’s real-world environment, is already commonplace when it comes to choosing fashion items such as spectacles and jewellery online, and many cosmetics companies have similar technologies. What is known as ‘magic mirror’ technology allows users to try on products and experience the results in real-time and real-world. Coupled with Artificial Intelligence as a guide, the result would be an individually tailored and uniquely executed experience.
AI and AR may well be the future of choice and decision making, but the physical act of wearing the products is a different thing. Ordering and waiting for delivery is not going to change much, but the manufacturing process could. On-demand production is very much a possibility. 3D printing is becoming a fast, cost-effective method of production. Filling a pallet with personally tailored contents isn’t as unrealistic as it initially sounds. Flexible polymer technologies and the ability to mix and match ingredients based on the choice and advice of the AI and consumers is simply a matter of speed and scale. A smaller, faster production process allows for personalisation at an individual level. This is really not such a far-fetched idea as it may seem. Personalisation of individual products is already available in several areas, such as printed materials and clothing. To bring this to the beauty space seems a natural progression.
There can be no doubt that a change in consumer interaction with brands and products is not just coming, it is already here. The recent series of lockdowns may have hastened the adoption of technologies such as AI, but the change was inevitable. As Generation Z matures, digital-based consumers will become an even more dominant factor. To supply these emerging markets, the beauty space must be able to develop hybrid and specific strategies to address the physical and virtual consumer.
Success for a beauty brand could well be a case of mirror, mirror on the wall, who is most technologically advanced of them all.