Today’s internet-savvy, constantly connected consumers are inundated with information at their fingertips, giving rise to new ways for brands to engage with their consumers real-time at home, at work and on-the-go. The penetration of smartphone ownership has given rise to an increasing number of consumers relying heavily on the internet and mobile apps to guide their purchasing decisions, fuelling the emergence of better informed, more empowered, and ultimately more demanding shoppers. As consumers are enthusiastically embracing the digital era, the notion of ‘DIY health and beauty’ is growing in importance. According to Datamonitor Consumer’s 2014 research, 81% of smartphone owners globally say they generally use the internet to diagnose themselves before asking a medical professional. For beauty brands, this presents tremendous potential to offer personalized product recommendations based on instant ‘skin health’ assessment.
While innovation in more technology-focused skincare is of growing benefit to consumers, functional skincare devices also pose a threat to traditional skincare brands, as consumers may increasingly replace traditional products with electronic alternatives, perceiving them to be a more affordable investment in the long term. Over two-thirds of consumers would consider using (or are already using) electrical or battery-powered devices to do beauty and grooming treatments at home, according to Datamonitor Consumer research in 2014. Therefore, developing complementary services and tools such as diagnostic devices and mobile apps can provide beauty brands with a competitive edge, as these can be used in conjunction with conventional beauty and grooming products. For example, the L’Oreal website recommends suitable products by asking website visitors to fill in a short survey exploring their beauty needs and aspirations. Many beauty brands are already stepping up their game with hand-held devices to track skin hydration and oil levels, and the level of sun exposure. Boots No.7, one of the leading private label beauty brands in UK, offers a ‘Match Made Service’ in selected stores, whereby a small hand-held device with a camera and LEDs capture multiple images of a customer’s skin to enable store advisors to give their customers a precise and scientifically measured assessment of their exact skin tone, recommending skincare products that are perfectly suited for their skin tone. Datamonitor Consumer’s research showed that over a third of consumers globally consider beauty and grooming products that are customized to their skin or body type to be more trustworthy.
In 2014, skincare giant Nivea pushed the boundaries further by incorporating such technology in print adverts as well. A print advertisement released in a Brazilian magazine could be torn out and worn as a trackable wristband (for kids) to help parents and guardians monitor their children’s movements on the beach. The humidity resistant and reusable wristband could then be synced to a smartphone to assign a maximum distance the bracelet was allowed to be away from the smartphone before an alert was raised.
Going forward, skin diagnostic services and devices have the potential to extend beyond skincare to haircare and cosmetics. Perhaps more than in-store, skin diagnostic tools and devices have greater potential in the online shopping world, where the advantage of tangible sampling is restricted, creating the need for consumers to be heavily influenced by such avenues to personalize their product choices. As an ever-more digital future unfolds, diagnostic devices are only set to get more predictive and ‘smarter’, revolutionizing what – and how – consumers make their product choices.
Ramaa Chipalkatti is speaking at the Beauty Devices: Trends to Watch presentation at in-cosmetics on Tuesday 14 April 2015, 16:15-17:00, Marketing Trends Theatre