Smart Beauty – What is now and what can be?

23 March 2020

By Alice Micheletti


Nowadays, the global beauty industry is estimated at $532 billion with predicted growth of up to $800bn by 2025 (Danziger, 2019). It is believed that even when times will get tough and the purchasing of higher-priced luxury goods will be suspended, consumers will continue to buy prestigious cosmetics, for example lipsticks, phenomenon called the “Lipstick Effect” (Finuras, 2017). So even amidst these unprecedented times we live in now, we can rest assured that continued growth is on the horizon, even if we hit few bumps on the way.


Although the global beauty market may remain one of the most profitable ones, it will however undergo profound changes over time. Factors such as changes in the consumers’ lifestyle, advanced beauty treatments and higher awareness of the probable side effects of various beauty ingredients will have a great impact (Ismail, 2018). One such example is a growing consumers’ preference towards natural and organic products, especially in the U.S and European countries (Ismail, 2018). This means that the introduction of clean, natural and sustainable products could bring great advantages, above all to new beauty brands. In fact, the introduction of such products would better fulfil the new consumers’ needs and desires for which they could be convinced to abandon the trusted brands (Ipsos, 2019).


A further element that would influence the future beauty market is product personalisation. Consumers are always more aware of their specific needs and they are seeking out beauty solutions developed especially for them. Customisation would be the answer to such desires (Khanom, 2019). The concept of personalisation and customisation have been the result of a consumers’ claim to redefine the concept of beauty on their own terms. The ideal of beauty is constantly changing towards a more authentic image which positively reflects each kind of beauty (Ipsos, 2019). Personalisation can be even more powerful for teenage market, as they are still getting to know their own ideals of beauty and can be educated in the process of personalisation/customisation (Khanom, 2019). The power of customisation is the consumers’ involvement in the development of the product. In fact, it can lead to a true attachment to the brand as it attempts to make the product a reflection of the individual’s personal identity (Khanom, 2019).


In the modern society, technological innovation plays a fundamental role in the everyday life and its continuous development is astounding. Several beauty technologies have already been introduced, as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) also advanced to keep customers engaged with the specific brand (Thomas, 2019). In this context, the combination between personalisation and digital innovation has been found truly beneficial. Brands are building connected beauty systems in order to personalise skincare treatments and consequently encourage customer satisfaction and loyalty (CB Insights, 2020). For instance, due to the continuous female desire to find the right shade of foundation, Lancôme has introduced a custom-made foundation machine that, through a specific scanner, recognises the right facial skin tone. Then, an algorithm chooses the appropriate shade, the foundation is produced and given to the customer. A further example of an innovative and personalised product is the “HiMirror”. This app takes a photo of the individual’s face and scans it to acknowledge the state of the skin. Once the analysis is complete, personalised tips and recommendations are provided (CB Insights,2020). These technologies are just a few demonstrations of the way in which digital innovation and the beauty market can cooperate to create more personalised products.


Alongside with personalisation, consumers demand a major control over the products and whether they actually deliver on their promises (CB Insights, 2020). Therefore, brands have become more accountable for their products. Following this, in terms of skincare, tech is also used to track changes over time so that brands can truly acknowledge and then show the benefits of their products. Consumers will become greatly involved in this practice. For instance, a growing amount of brands are already asking consumers to provide pictures and show the progress over time (CB Insights, 2020).


In the era of innovation, beauty wearable devices and apps are transforming the choices of the consumers alongside with their perception of beauty. In terms of wearable devices, trackers have been the first one to be introduced and widely used to support fitness, sleep and overall wellbeing. Wearable devices have also been developed to monitor skin care. In fact, due to the great interest given to UV exposure, stickers or wristband, as the Violet Plus, have been developed to track UV exposure in real time (Matthews, 2016). A further example of a high-tech device used to improve skin care has been developed by Duolab by l’Occitane. The brand has introduced a revolutionary skin care technology, quick and easy to use, which allows a full and pure absorption of the product. Such effective absorption is possible thanks to the cutting-edge thermal technology that warms the cream to the skin’s natural temperature.


A great number of research is now working on the production of hidden electronic components imbedded in beauty products that would also enhance the consumer’s appearance. Fake nails and eyelashes are a perfect example of such products (Vega & Fuks, 2014). According to this stream of research, the inclusion of such electronic components would greatly facilitate the everyday life. In fact, through the use of fake nails and eyelashes there would be no need in carrying ID cards, credit or membership cards as everything would be saved on the electronic components. Moreover, they would look fashionable and the wearer would not feel their presence. Such innovations can greatly improve the field of wearable devices as people still feel that the bracelets and wristwatches do not fully match their lifestyle and personality (Vega & Fuks, 2014).


Some research, carried out in the U.S, has reported that many consumers stopped using wearable devices within six months and more than half of those who own one, no longer use it (Pai, 2014). Another possible explanation to such result could be the loss of value that each product undergoes over time. In fact, consumers might perceive the specific wearable devices as not as beneficial as they were in the past. Due to this reason, therefore, companies must design a strategy to ensure customers’ long-term usage of the products combining functional and aesthetic concerns.


As previously reported, the interest in sustainability and in clean, natural products is growing immeasurably fuelling demands for a true zero-waste beauty and personal care supply chain (Morganti et al., 2019). Following this, consumers will be drawn to those brands that focus on reducing waste and include, in their production, natural and environmentally friendly ingredients and packaging. Due to these reasons, ingredients trending in food brands have already been integrated to beauty brands (CB Insights, 2020). In the future, it is expected that beauty brands will partner with farmers for an appropriate ingredient sourcing. Such partnership would allow to better control the ingredient supply chain. This goes well with growing consumers’ interest for product transparency and better understanding product and ingredients’ journey. In fact, consumers desire to know exactly where their products come from and above all, that they do not negatively impact on the environment as well as employees’ wellbeing. The willingness to fulfil such desire has been demonstrated by Farm Fresh Skincare, which made the USDA-approved skincare laboratory available for public viewing (CB Insights, 2020). Further developments in the adoption of blockchain technology for beauty ingredients monitoring can be beneficial.


These are just some trends looking at consumer behaviour within beauty and technology and how these can be and are already combined to serve customers’ varied desires. Smart beauty market is still young and we are expected to see many new innovations within the next few years. Which ones will stick is fully dependent on in-depth understanding of consumer psychology and development of incredible technology. For best results, brands should adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to product development and marketing.


If you are working on exciting smart beauty products and/or brands, out team of consultants and our network of designers, marketers and digital gurus are here to help you beautifully flourish.


Reference List:

CB Insights.(2020). 15 Trends Changing The Face Of The Beauty Industry In 2020.

Denziger, P. (2019). 6 Trends Shaping The Future Of The $532B Beauty Business. Forbes

Finuras, P. (2017). The lipstick effect!.

Morganti, P., Morganti, G., Chen, H.D., & Gagliardini, A. (2019). Beauty mask: market and environment. Journal of Clinical and Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(2), 1-10.

Matthews, I. (2016). How wearable technology is transforming beauty. Cosmetics Business

Ipsos. (2019). With sales mixed and disruption rampant, what is the future of beauty?

Ismail, A. (2018). International Marketing Strategies in the Celebrity Cosmetics Industry A Dual Case Study: Huda Beauty and Fenty Beauty (Bachelor Degree). Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

Khanom, R. (2019). Why personalisation is the future of beauty. Mintel

Pai, A. (2014). Survey: One third of wearable device owners stopped using them within six months.

Thomas, D. (2019). Five tech trends shaping the beauty industry. BBC News

Vega, K., & Fuks, H. (2014). Beauty tech nails: interactive technology at your fingertips.