Beauty brands turn to blockchain to boost consumer confidence

With transparency an urgent new focus for the industry, blockchain technology is being used by brands to lift the lid on false claims and ultimately change the way we shop.

If you don’t know what blockchain is, it’s an incorruptible system of recording information that makes it near-impossible to change, hack, or cheat what’s been inputted.

Amid growing scrutiny that the beauty industry isn’t nearly as transparent as it should be, it’s coming in very handy for brands striving to boost consumer confidence.

In a recent study, 37% of the Gen Zers – which have a combined spending power of over $140bn – specified knowing exactly where their products come from and how they were made as the most important factor when buying.

That’s in addition to the whopping 60% of all beauty consumers who want to know more about the sourcing of ingredients.

BrandsGetReal: Social media & the evolution of transparency | Sprout Social

‘The younger generation are hyper-conscious about what they want to buy, and they will boycott with their wallet if they don’t agree with what a brand is doing,’ says founder of EM Cosmetics, Michelle Phan. ‘Two years from now, are Gen Z or millennial consumers going to buy a beauty product that cannot substantiate its authenticity and its brand claims with traceability data?’

Tired of attempting to navigate the beauty world one false claim at a time, from inaccurate ‘natural’ credentials and greenwashing to overly ambitious marketing tactics, the importance of transparency for buyers in 2021 is evident, particularly as the demand for sustainable, efficacious products grows.

So, what can be done to meet this need for more convincing and ensure that legislation around brands being allowed to make certain claims is as tight as possible? Enter blockchain.

Understanding how blockchain could disrupt the beauty industry

Fortunately, we don’t need a complete guide to the ins and outs of how this tech works to understand quite how revolutionary its potential is for beauty. It’s actually a rather simple (yet extremely trustworthy) way of verifying information from a brand and its supply chain.

If a brand chooses to advertise that it’s 100% ‘vegan’ it can now combine blockchain with open data to share key product details. This allows for a company’s claims to be backed up by tangible evidence, negating any room for misinterpretation or false advertisement. Customers are more informed as a result and can make better, more empowered choices.

By way of example, Cult Beauty, which touts itself as being ‘cruelty-free,’ has added blockchain secure ‘proof-points’ (designed by transparency software company Provenance) to every item on its site.

Cult Conscious': Launching a transparency edit with Cult Beauty | Provenance News

Proof-points appear as click-through icons on product pages to show customers exactly what each claim means through documents of assurance from the labs that send ingredient test results, dated accreditation or certification, and plain-speak bullet points about what it means in real terms.

This accessibility of information crucially puts pressure on brands to ensure the claims they make can be backed up by hard evidence and the more retailers that get on board, the more brands will start to think twice about adopting misleading claims on new products.

Disrupting beauty’s traditional model which allows brands, retailers, and manufacturers to get away with misleading and risky practices, it’s a sure-fire way of solving the issue consumers face when trying to decipher what it is they’re putting on their bodies.

Beauty and Blockchain | Blockchain, Blockchain technology, Cash management

Are there any pitfalls to using blockchain?

Blockchain is not a silver bullet, however, and there is a catch.

For the time being it remains very niche, used only in an experimental fashion across the industry because it’s expensive and still emerging. Not to mention that blockchain companies themselves need regulation (but that’s another thing entirely).

The main issue that risks presenting itself seems to be relying on the willingness of brands to co-operate. Although in recent years a huge number of them have been more than happy to welcome the addition of proof-points with open arms and hand over their full list of ingredients, the complexity of securing evidence for claims is understandably not a straightforward one and can be extremely time-consuming. Hence their reluctance.

Blockchain can Fix Consumer Cravings for Transparent Beauty: Study – Blockchain News, Opinion, TV and Jobs

Baby steps though, eh? Evidence-led proof-points will act as motivation for brands to want to do better, at least in the short-tern, offering a definitive step in the right direction.

Here’s hoping we can finally shop for beauty products without scepticism in the long term too.

@thredmag

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