One size fits all is over! Consumers want products unique to them. Nobody is the same so everybody needs something different. Twenty years ago, people wanted to all look alike; twenty years after, they all want to be different. I remember the time when, as teens, we were all wearing the Bensimon shoes, the Levis’ 501 and the white t-shirt; Uniformization was the goal. Makeup was not yet the industry it is today and options were limited. Today Gen Z have different habits and expectations, the beauty industry represents $49B, and makeup tutorials are all over the internet. The beauty industry is just responding to customer needs; customers who crave for differentiation and who want custom products. With this trend, we can recognize that brands are taking different approaches and 3 directions are being pursued.
It is all about offering more and more products to clients. The products still remain generic but, with the addition of the depth of assortment, everyone can find a flavor that works for them. It is not unusual to see brands offering an always wider range of colors. We can count up to 63 different colors of foundation for MAC, a myriad of eyeshadows colors with ColourPop and lipsticks for L’Oréal.
Brands also create different collections to align with lifestyles, like Milani with their vegan products, while other spin up a men collection like Channel, and other create a brand specific to transgenders.
The biggest move and the most interesting is the emergence of custom products created from scratch. This has been the biggest trend of the past years in the beauty industry. Products are being customized based on a person’s attributes. People can create their ‘’own’’ product by picking from a selection of elements, like ColourPop with their ‘’Create your own makeup palette’’ creator.
Other brands prefer to start with a questionnaire, sometimes lengthy, to determine the product that will fit best the customer’s attributes. The customer needs to enter their hair type, frequency of shampoos per week, problems they want to solve …for example, and a unique shampoo formula is created for them. They can personalize it by adding their name, save it, and be able to reorder it when need be. Function of Beauty or Prose are leaders in this sector. A similar experience is available for lipsticks and skincare. Brands offering a personalized skincare formula are plethora and we can name Proven, Curology, Neutrogena or, in a more limited capacity, Clinique.
This type of customization is today also available for perfumes, which in this case, is simply the return of an old practice dating back to the 19th century where perfumes were tailor-made. Wearing perfume was a luxury and a definition of social class. Perfumes were made on-demand by perfumers and not easily available.
The new cool trend is to be able to create our own product from scratch but also to participate in its fabrication. Bite Beauty set up physical lip labs, where technicians work with the client to customize their lipstick color and formula on the fly: they pick the products, mix them, melt them, mold them into the final packaging, and personalize it with a name or message. Voilà!
Technology for Personalization
When technology comes into the mix, it is even better. YSL is proposing a lipstick maker technology, that enables customers create their own lipstick at home, matching exactly a color they like (from an outfit or from a swatch of some color they identified for example). The device mixes colors to produce the desired color and issues a small amount that can be used immediately or carried in a purse for a future touch-up. L’Oréal is not new to this, as they also launched their personalized skincare creator incorporating AI technology to formulate the right product for the user.
Virtual skin diagnostics push the expert diagnosis in the homes, where using a simple selfie can result in getting a fully personalized skin prescription.
3-D printing combined with a skin diagnostic is making it possible to get a personalized skincare mask, which solution is currently being developed by Neutrogena.
IoT is also used to track UV risk for the skin.
Personalization is redefining the beauty industry, where product uniqueness and experience are being combined to meet ever more sophisticated customers' needs.
To go further: 7 Key Trends Driving The Future of Retail
Dr. Vanina Delobelle
Vanina is an innovation and transformation leader in Digital. She has been leading digital transformation in retail for over 15 years. She is Principal at Method.