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Jul 20 2015

Facemapping the future: three ways technology is transforming the beauty sector


There are three key ways that technology is already solving the tangibility problem in the beauty industry, says Adriana Coppola, planner at SapientNitro London specialising in beauty and skincare brands.


by Adriana Coppola


Newly appointed CMO Hugh Pile recently announced that L’Oreal’s core focus is "data and ecommerce" with an aim to increase ecommerce from 10% to 20% of total revenue, whilst testing out a new instant buy platform. Ecommerce has always been problematic for beauty brands. Unlike other consumer packaged goods, consumers prefer to physically go in store to purchase beauty products because they’re so personal: each shade or texture must be trialed because of how they differ person to person. So consumers have only ever really used ecommerce as a discount channel for repurchases, rather than a more lucrative discovery channel.


This however, may be changing very soon, but before it can, brands need to break the tangibility barrier. There are three ways technology can do this, trial, discovery and mass customization.


Facemapping is a technology system that can chart the many different contours of the face and use that data in conjunction with designs or animations to accurately map them onto the face for a hyper-real illusion. Beauty brands like Max Factor have wanted to use this for years, but the technology is only just starting to reach maturity.


Last year, L’Oreal launched the revolutionary beauty tool, Makeup Genius that transforms smartphones into an interactive mirror. It’s an augmented reality product catalogue that lets people try on different products in real time, eradicating the need for physical interaction with beauty products.


Facemapping and projection mapping technology are finally reaching maturity, becoming more accessible to brands, and the better it gets; the more consumers will look to use this technology as an everyday alternative. It could completely alter the current experience for consumers. Imagine seeing yourself in the same make-up worn by Jenifer Lopez in the L’Oreal ad. It would make advertisements and promotion a much more personal experience.


Currently digital supplements, rather than grows the market. The purchases we make via digital are very considered, allowing for very little incremental growth. However, within the next year or so, we’ll see digital become a medium where we can discover products we’d not previously considered.


Augmented reality nails projects designs and colors onto your nails, as a means of tempting customers to buy more. Maybelline has already begun trialing this in the form of an app, and within the next year we’ll start to see more sophisticated AR from major nail retail chains.


For the beauty industry this technology could signify the end of self-service in retail – where shoppers walk into a store and are faced with walls and walls of products but little guidance or assistance. Sophisticated AR has opened up the possibility to create service and discovery around products both on and offline, which will have huge implications for the industry.


Predictive technology will take the idea of service and discovery even further. It will be able to analyze our skin tone, type and texture, eye shape, hair type, and our preferences pulled in from Instagram and Facebook. Using these data points we’ll be able to automate an experience which consumers would have only previously received from a top makeup artist or stylist, democratizing beauty and empowering consumers.


There is a growing demand for cosmetics more bespoke to consumers’ needs. This is currently met with products such as the new Cover FX Custom Cover Drops, which provide consumers with pure pigment to mix with other products to create their own bespoke base. Eyeko has also produced a ‘bespoke mascara’ which offers 23 different wand types. This is certainly something that technology will address in the future.


Last year Grace Choi took TechCrunch Disrupt by storm with the Mink printer, founded on the insight that consumers need to turn to high-end brands to get the best color selection. The printer lets users choose any color on the web or reality and, using simple pre-existing software, print that color into a blush, eye shadow, lip gloss or any other type of makeup. Choi is currently working on her prototype which could take up to five years to perfect.


Tech specialists are finalizing plans to let you design, produce and wear your own bespoke makeup formulations using 3D printing. We will be the creative directors of our own make-up brands. Although this technology is only a glimpse into what the future of the beauty industry holds, brands may choose to offer consumers special cosmetic inks and base products for them to mix themselves as opposed to presenting the consumer with a selection of finished products.


Tangibility is the biggest barrier to the beauty industry’s success at the moment, and is currently the bottleneck to digital transformation. Technology presents beauty brands with the opportunity to lead the category: not only allowing them to grow their e-commerce sales, but to completely revolutionize the brand experience and the future of the beauty industry with digital.



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