Euromonitor International attended February 5th's INNOCOS Miami 2018, a conference dedicated to analyzing the beauty industry’s hottest emerging trends and how they are reshaping the future of beauty. While this is their inaugural conference in North America, the conference drew 100 high-level decision makers from established leaders, emerging brands and start-ups in the beauty industry. In addition to connecting ingredient suppliers, e-commerce and tech companies to the beauty industry, INNOCOS Miami raised a thought-provoking discussion about the roles that augmented reality and artificial intelligence (AI) play in transforming the beauty consumer experience.
In a highly fragmented market, today’s North American consumer is overloaded with choices when it comes to beauty products, so companies are choosing technology as a means to differentiate themselves. As a result, companies are partnering with tech companies to better understand today’s consumer and to create long-term engagement. The success of this engagement hinges on developing and maintaining a highly-personal relationship with the consumer. INNOCOS Miami featured several presentations that demonstrated how companies are creating a highly personal relationship with consumers through technology.
Beauty companies are using artificial intelligence to learn more about their consumers
In the past, beauty brands issued quizzes to better understand the consumer and recommend particular products. But, in the future of beauty, these quizzes and other diagnostics will be replaced by AI-led conversational marketing. According to Automat, a technology company leading this space, AI-led conversational marketing gives companies personalised one-on-one conversations with customers to build bi-directional relationships through popular messaging applications. In other words, beauty brands will increasingly use bots to converse with consumers.
In 2016, Coty partnered with Automat to create a bot based on Kalani Hilliker, a 16-year-old American influencer for CoverGirl. Kalani encouraged her 3.3 million fans on social media at the time to message her bot, KalaniBot, which was designed to mimic Kalani’s social media persona. KalaniBot asked consumers questions, offered product recommendations, videos and tutorials and provided a CoverGirl coupon. KalaniBot recorded 14 times the conversation than Kalani’s average comments per post, a 51% click-through rate on delivered coupons and 91% positive user feedback. KalaniBot is just one of Coty’s tools to harness artificial intelligence. The company also correlated behaviours with certain scents to create algorithms and develop six to seven questions that predict what fragrances consumers should buy. In the future of beauty, Coty’s approaches will become more commonplace as other companies harness artificial intelligence technologies to better understand consumers.
Beauty companies are using augmented reality to create endless possibilities for their consumers
Traditional makeup sampling required in-store associates to physically apply colour cosmetics on consumers as the primary method to encourage purchasing. However, retailers and companies will increasingly harness augmented reality to demonstrate beauty products in the future.
Sephora currently uses 3D facial recognition technology in its Virtual Artist tool that enables users to upload a selfie and virtually try on products. Benefit partnered with developer ModiFace to create a 3D shaping of eyebrows that allows consumers to virtually try on different eyebrow shapes and shades. Bobbi Brown incorporated ModiFace’s live video applications on its website, which allows consumers to take a photo of themselves and view it on the product page to envision a specific look, rather than on a model.
On top of augmented reality, companies are streamlining the path to purchase. Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in China use a “smile to pay” facial recognition system, and it is only a matter of time before beauty brands and retailers incorporate this feature in North America.
Beauty companies are using technology to empower consumers
Consumers’ in-store experiences traditionally ended when they left stores, but in the future of beauty, companies will engage with the consumer after a shopping experience. In partnership with Memomi, Neiman Marcus’ Memory Makeover Mirror allows in-store associates to record video of a makeover session or an individualised makeup tutorial. After the session, consumers can access this video, add products used in the session to a shopping cart and share it on social media.
Companies will increasingly empower consumers and guide their purchases through self-diagnostic tools. SkinGenie, for example, created a tailored diagnosis based on consumers’ DNA. The company partners with existing DNA testing companies to create personalised skin care products based on genetic skin traits and skin nutritional needs. This approach of personalized beauty also empowers consumers to not just seek out but create products that are free from particular ingredients or allergens.
Who will lead the conversation?
In all of these examples, companies have focused on several aspects of augmented reality or artificial intelligence to drive engagement with consumers. These touchpoints can occur at the beginning, middle or end of a shopping experience. But in the future of beauty, augmented reality and artificial intelligence will be incorporated in every touchpoint with the consumer. The beauty consumer experience will be transformed with consumers and artificial intelligence leading more of the conversation, while brands may take a less prominent role. These examples signal a new way to engage with consumers that will only intensify as beauty and technology continue to fuse.