Beauty technology is set to change consumer habits for good

Digital tools thriving amidst a pandemic imposing cautious mindsets towards ‘touch’ will redefine how we shop for beauty products in the long-term.

As in a large majority of sectors, the worlds of beauty and technology have collided at an accelerating pace over the past few years. Estimated to reach $650 billion by 2023, the global cosmetics market has been infused with the power of Silicon Valley. Add to this, safety concerns over human contact under Covid-19 restrictions, and its easy to see why digital tools are becoming commonplace.

While beauty continues to chase this boom propelled by the pandemic, the industry is currently being challenged to adopt virtual solutions that’ll remain popular beyond the tumultuous year we’ve just had. At the apex of these industries are innovations in artificial intelligence, deep learning, and augmented reality, all set to revolutionise how we interact with beauty in the long-term.

Accepting that consumer habits have changed entirely, brands and retailers are drastically evolving to adapt to this new landscape and at rapid pace. Following the impact that Covid-19 has had on the online rush to keep up with the rise of digital, beauty has distanced itself further from its traditional roots of in-person sampling, consultants, and department stores, choosing instead to focus on smart subscriptions, streamlined online shopping, and nifty gadgets.

Originally launched as a unique, affordable means of discovering products, subscription boxes have become the ideal solution for brands – heavily reliant on touch, smell, and testing – to get their goods into the hands of consumers.

Rather than offering a single sample at checkout, cosmetics companies are appealing to their buyers with the opportunity to purchase items on a monthly basis for a reduced price.

Not only are these boxes specialised and tailor-made using game-changing algorithms – a win-win for the ever-growing number of consumers interested in personalisation – but they’re pro-sustainability too as they eliminate overproduction by condensing sales into one, pre-arranged subscription.

‘Beauty is fast-paced and innovative, it always has been,’ Adriana Shilton, strategic account director at Bazaarvoice told Cosmeticsdesign-europe. ‘I think we’re seeing a lot of changes and growth to enable businesses to transition out of that ‘look and touch in person’ model into online very successfully.’

Alex J. Champandard on Twitter: "Digital Makeup from Internet Images https://t.co/0cYO5Jqzf5 This one is actually not deep learning ;-) #offbrand… "

Additionally, though the phenomenon of deep learning (a machine’s ability to analyse, learn, and adapt by processing data) has been met with criticism over fears that it may indicate the start of a robot takeover, it undeniably has the potential to improve the beauty industry in many ways.

Hugely beneficial in that it means consumers have increased input into how products are being developed, it can shape manufacturing systems so brands can better cater to individual consumer needs.

As a result, from Olay to Sephora, more and more companies are getting on board, providing browsers with a chance to partake in surveys, questionnaires, and virtual analyses that follows up with recommended products in tune with what they’re seeking.

The company behind YouCam Makeup app launches a new set of AR tools for beauty brands like Ulta | TechCrunch

This sits comfortably alongside AI shade-matching and skin diagnostic tools, all part of the gamification of beauty that’s seen a significant surge in trendiness lately thanks to L’Oréal’s ‘try-on’ app and the plethora of Instagram filters that have popped up to showcase brands’ product offerings across the mass market.

‘This can certainly improve user experiences online and elevate the shopper journey,’ adds Shilton. ‘If you’re traditional selling in the old world, you don’t necessarily know your consumer or a lot about them. But with these new technologies producing data on your consumer, it really does give brands and retailers and opportunity to better understand their customers and products.’

Despite the feeling of unbearable uncertainty we were all subject to during the lockdowns of 2020, the new dawn in beauty technology is extremely promising and may just bring us closer to ourselves than ever before. Cliché as it may sound.

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We ought to feel hopeful about what lies ahead then, because in the words of prolific 3D makeup artist Ines Alpha: ‘the industry’s future is never ending’ and right now, that anticipation is a positive we can hold onto and let it guide us into 2021 – a year that’s (god willing) bound to be better than this one.

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