According to Nielsen, the total value of the global cosmetics market is expected to increase from the USD 532 billion in 2017 to reach USD 863 billion by 2023. Vying for a slice of this lucrative pie, major beauty companies have been investing in high-tech solutions. The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2019) in Las Vegas saw established beauty brands put on display their latest high-tech products, which have be heralded to shape the future of the beauty industry.
One of the companies, Procter & Gamble (P&G), said it believes consumers are looking for “deeply personalized experiences and products”. The company debuted the Olay Future You Simulation, a new feature in its online Olay Skin Advisor (an existing P&G tool that helps users identify the age of their skin’s appearance) that utilizes an algorithm to show users how their future appearance will change under different scenarios (i.e. not wearing sunscreen regularly).
In addition, P&G offers the new Olay Smart Wand – complete with accompanying app that syncs with the wand to deliver electromagnetic treatment for targeted issues. The Smart Wand has been advertised to “personalize and optimize” skin care products to the specific requirements of a user. Opté, one of the start-ups from P&G’s incubator, also launched a wand that can scan a user’s skin and place mineral pigments directly on dark spots.
L’Oréal is likewise placing heavy emphasis into personalization, revealing a wearable adhesive skin sensor that tracks skin pH in real-time. A link between pH and inflammation has been uncovered by research, and the device offers people afflicted with inflamed skin conditions (such as eczema, dryness and acne) a more convenient and inexpensive method to test and monitor them. Called “My Skin Track pH”, the product will be made available at dermatologist offices some time this year, and may eventually be sold directly to consumers.
Meanwhile, Neutrogena unveiled new product MaskiD, an app that will measure a user’s face and then generate a tailored mask along with targeted treatments for his/her particular skin needs. MaskiD is based on Neutrogena’s original skin scanner that can be attached to a smartphone and used to analyze a user’s skin to see if moisturizer is required.
Gadgets were not the only innovations on show, with Japanese cosmetics brand SK-II presenting a model of its Future X Smart Store, already rolled out in Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore. Featuring technology such as facial recognition, computer vision and artificial intelligence – shoppers at the store can get their skin analyzed and view their results on an interactive skin care wall.
Nevertheless, experts are ambivalent about the influx of high-tech, personalized options.
Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst at research firm Forrester, believed that “people want products that are going to work for them…they (do not) care whether or not it’s personalized”. She opined that companies are just experimenting with “forays into various technology investments” and that “nothing is a prevailing means of buying or selling”.