Words like ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘cutting edge’ are often bandied about too freely, and, as a journalist, I include myself amongst the worst culprits. However, it is important to recognise genuine breakthroughs when they appear.
At last month’s TechCrunch Disrupt NY event, a Harvard Business School graduate, Grace Choi, introduced a US$300 desktop 3D printer that enables the user to pick a colour from any image and transform it into make-up. The idea behind the printer, called Mink, is to enable consumers to obtain niche shades without paying high-end prices.
Now, there are obviously many factors that contribute to a consumer’s decision to purchase colour cosmetics, from the packaging to added value formulas via celebrity endorsement. But the lure of a machine that can print out an eyeshadow the exact shade of a Tiffany gift box, or lippy in the rich purple of a Cadbury chocolate wrapper is undeniable.
And, while great ideas don’t necessarily translate into commercial successes, the media hullabaloo surrounding the unveiling of Mink suggests that, if executed properly, the invention could rewrite the rules of beauty.
The demand from consumers in the Asia Pacific market is certainly there, with a willingness to experiment key in ensuring uptake of innovative products entering the market. Time will also tell whether this technology will have a long-term affect on the global market, where sales of colour cosmetics account for 20% of all sales.