The Virtual Beauty Counter of the Future.

Author: Wilma McDaniel, Commercial Director of Cutitronics

While the high street has changed significantly in recent years, the beauty counter still remains a staple of the shopping experience and provides a trusted place to gain knowledge on the best products to use, try new shades and get the latest tips and tricks.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for skincare brands to open a dialogue and engage with the consumer at home, since they have been unable to visit a physical store. The focus has shifted to offering a virtual outlet while presenting the same level of service and expertise.

The landscape of the beauty industry has changed rapidly since the beginning of March. Brands have been quick to adapt and adopt new technologies to accelerate the speed of innovation and incorporate it into their current business models.

In a recent interview, Lubomira Rochet, the Chief Digital Officer at L’Oreal revealed that the current situation had accelerated the company’s digital transformation, with eCommerce reporting that they had achieved in eight weeks what it would have otherwise taken three years to complete.

This means the prospect of a virtual beauty counter can easily be achieved in the very near future. Here are some of the ways technology will enhance and personalise the consumer’s experience in a post-Covid world:

An omnichannel approach

The pandemic has shown the real need for an omnichannel approach, as one size does not simply fit all. Brands must integrate their interactions with consumers whether it be online or in an actual store to give the best possible customer service experience.

For example, customers may opt to shop online for ease or comfort, but would like to shop a specific style directly from social media channels. By having all channels interconnected, it could mean a one-click or swipe-up option takes the consumer directly to the products in a social media post and makes the purchase process seamless.

Retailers must consider the overall brand experience, from browsing to sale, ensuring that it is as easy to use as possible. They can do this by offering different channels so the consumer can interact with a brand on their own terms.

AI

What used to be the stuff of sci-fi movies and tech shows is now moving into the mainstream. By recognising patterns in likes, dislikes and interactions, artificial intelligence (AI) can develop a deep understanding of consumer behaviour. AI is being used by beauty brands to help consumers identify skin issues, signpost appropriate products, and recommend alternative treatments.

What’s more, a key feature of AI is its ability to continually learn and improve. By becoming increasingly familiar with the client’s unique skin features and beauty regimes, its ability to personalise product recommendations will only become better over time.

Technology for tailoring

Advances in the way we use data and technologies such as AI and VR have enhanced our daily lives. Virtual assistants such as Siri on our iPhones or Alexa in our homes have allowed us to streamline our daily tasks at the click of a button or with a quick voice command.

For the beauty industry, it has transformed the way we shop. Consumers now have the ability to virtually test or try on products before purchasing. Take Function of Beauty as an example. The newest kid on the Instagram block uses big data to create a personalised shampoo and conditioner based on the hair condition and goals of the consumer by having them fill out an online quiz, then analysing the information provided.

Consumers are more savvy than ever thanks to technology like this that allows them to gather data to gain a better understanding of themselves and what products are likely to work best for them (also known as the ‘Quantified Self’). Skincare brands need to adopt these technologies to keep up and give consumers the experience and insights they are hungry for.

From lab to home

The most common challenge facing brands is that consumers are not seeing the desired results when they take a product home. One of the main reasons for this is failure to use the product consistently. But, by tailoring a more personalised experience through the use of technology, consumers are empowered to recreate clinical trial conditions in the comfort of their own homes.

By opening a two way dialogue in which brands can see the way consumers interact with a product after the point of purchase, it gives them the opportunity to offer advice on how to best use a formulation and ultimately get the desired or promised results.

A one-of-a-kind skincare experience

Our own patented suite of Cutitron® technologies will encapsulate all three of these. Our latest prototypes include a handheld sensor which scans the skin in real-time, while the accompanying app examines contributing factors such as weather and age. By gathering all of this information, the technology is able to determine how to best use products for the consumer’s skin type for optimal results.

It is going to revolutionise the way we interact with skincare, unburdening the individual and making a skincare regime that really works as easily as brushing your teeth. Our technology will create an everyday virtual beauty-counter-level experience that fits into the consumer’s everyday life.