In the age of information consumers expect to know the complete story of the ingredients that touch their skin. Smart brands are poised to deliver on this demand. We took a closer look.
Consumers Want Sustainability and Immediate Transparency
2015 was a major turning point for understanding the consumer’s relationship with sustainability. Nielsen released its “Sustainability Imperative” which has been cited by marketers, activists, and everyone in between as validation for launching eco-friendly products: a whopping 66 percent of global consumers, and 72 percent of Gen Z consumers, said they were willing to pay more for products from sustainable brands. In 2013 this percentage was only 50 percent among all consumers.
At the same time, where consumers shop, socialize and play each day continues to shift to mobile. Middle aged Americans spend more time on social media than Millennials, and the average American spends 4 hours a day on their phone. Some analysts predict China will become a cashless society as mobile phones continue to replace currency.
Leading cosmetics brands have taken note of this mobile-first trend and invested heavily in technology that not only will reshape customer experience, but could offer an incredible opportunity for mainstreaming clean beauty.
Major Players Are Investing in Cosmetic Tech
What do L’Oreal, Shisheido, LVMH, and Givaudan and have in common? Besides being global brands, they have invested significantly in digital technology, AI, and machine learning.
In March 218, L’Oreal acquired Modiface, a startup that developed real-time facial analysis and feature tracking technology. L’Oreal’s Digital Services Factory is now leading the deployment of these advances: Modiface technology is the foundation for Sephora’s virtual artist offering. As consumers scroll through “Look” options, products are promoted as part of a personalized beauty solution.
Shisheido acquired MATHCo to provide a similar tool. MATHCo creates personalized custom-blend foundations based on facial scans. The platform now powers the bareMinerals Made-2-Fit mobile app and has been positioned as a game-changer by Shisheido President and CEO, Marc Rey, saying it “illustrates the fact that beauty is not only about delivering a ready-made product, but also about gaining the best consumer insight and really satisfying the needs of every single woman.” Made-2-Fit has a 4 of 5 stars rating with over 3,000 reviews on the Apple app store.
LVMH has cast a wider net with its La Maison Des Startups. More than 50 startups go through this program to launch new technologies that address every stage of the customer experience across brands – from digitizing mirrors, to reinventing the e-commerce experience, to making video more shoppable. An entire section is dedicated to sustainability and ingredients.
Artificial Intelligence is also driving product development. Givaudan launched Eve this year which automates new product development based on inputs such as region, regulatory compliance, product positioning, formula type, price and target consumer. As consumers demand more sustainable, effective, and value-driven products, Eve could rapidly deliver clean formulation solutions.
AI Could be the Bridge Between Consumer Values and Products in the Marketplace
The foundation to help consumers make the choice they’ve always wanted – sustainable, pure, clean and effective products – is here. In the United States 95 percent of those surveyed desired technology to help understand the ingredients in their products. Global standards are aligning around cruelty-free, vegan, and natural (such as ISO 16128).
Imagine if the products Modiface suggests included a sustainability rating? Or if MATCHCo allowed you to filter out ingredients restricted by the EU? Or if a digitized mirror launched through La Maison Des Startups scanned your proposed product assortment and identified toxic or non-sustainable products?
These advances are technically possible – EWG Ingredient database has already developed a foundational database and methodology for toxicity and environmental concerns. The Think Dirty app allows you to search over 1 million products with a detailed ingredient reviews.
In this context, AI is poised to make the next big leap to assess the full scope of “Clean” by reviewing the block chain process of sustainable manufacturing, testing, and product development. Soon it will be completely seamless.