It seems that in the beauty industry, the days of “one size fits all” are fading fast and arguably, that’s as a result of increased consumer demand for personalised beauty that directly addresses their concerns in a healthy and sustainable fashion.
Over the last several years, the rise of beauty tech has helped to both fuel and satisfy consumers’ demands for products that actually work and deliver the results which they have been promised. For many years, consumers’ choices have been influenced by ‘sexy’ marketing campaigns and “puffery” (often celebrity endorsed and in beautiful packaging).
Beauty tech is essentially the intersection between beauty and tech and many of the world’s largest beauty companies (such as L’Oréal who is very much a front runner in the space) have embraced the latest emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality to give consumers a personalised, tailor-made beauty experience. For example, MAC now has its own Virtual Try on tool which allows shoppers to try on 200 eyeshadow and lipstick shades.
Beauty tech however, extends far beyond trying on make-up and new hair colours virtually. It ranges from being able to personalise a product to meet a consumer’s specific needs (cue Function of Beauty, a brand which allows you to customise your shampoo/conditioner according to your hair goals and aesthetic preferences) through to exercising the muscles in your face with sonic pulsation technology (cue Foreo).
As a result of the pandemic and the seemingly never ending lockdowns, consumers have been forced to embrace at-home beauty regimens, online tutorials and to adapt to new ways of trialling products – being able to walk into a store and trial unlimited products may well be a thing of the past, at least for the foreseeable future.
So, what does the future of beauty tech look like?
Simpler, cleaner, sustainable and more honest perhaps. With many consumers now trawling through online product reviews before purchasing a product, brands are likely to invest more money in their product to ensure that it can live up to its marketing claims and to stand out from a saturated market.
As many brands are now embracing technology as a way to market products virtually (such as though virtual try-on apps as mentioned above) there will inevitably be a huge reduction in waste given that physical products cannot be tried and tested. And fortunately, a reduction in wastage is not just a bi-product of these virtual try-on apps – many consumers are now making much more conscious choices.
Reports suggest that consumers want and brands are responding to demands for ‘clean’ beauty – shoppers want to know what ingredients are in the products they’re using, where they have come from and whether the process has been ethical. At this point in time, there is no regulation around how popular buzzwords such as “clean”, “sustainable” and “ethical” are used and this creates a massive loophole for brands to market products as “clean” on the basis that only one ingredient amongst many contained in a product is organic. This effect has been dubbed “greenwashing” — concealing murky, un-environmentally friendly practices.
The pandemic has given many consumers the opportunity to reconsider their habits and the impact that their actions have on their own health and the planet – they want recyclable packaging, products free of toxins and ingredients that are ethically sourced and that are personalised for them.
As ‘clean’ beauty continues to gain traction, technology will enable brands to fluidly track entire supply chains, crack the code of mass customisation and make honest, accountable marketing claims.
Mireille Turner @beautytechlawyer is a Senior Corporate Associate at BDB Pitmans LLP, a top 60 UK Law Firm.
Mireille’s expertise is in Corporate Law and she advises on a broad range of matters including investment, corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions. Working with a range of clients, Mireille has a specific focus on those in the beauty industry.
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