The beauty industry is always on the cutting edge with respect to emerging technologies. As the consumer experience has evolved over the past few years, first with the pandemic and then with increased efforts to return to in-person shopping, brands have needed to pivot quickly to provide customers with immersive experiences regardless of how they choose to shop.
As consumer demands have changed, brands have adopted a tech-first approach that has connected online, in-store, and social shopping experiences to meet customers where they are.
At the recent Global Beauty and Fashion Tech Forum, an insightful roundtable moderated by James Manso, Beauty Market Editor for WWD and featuring industry leaders Alandra Maka, Senior Lead for Consumer Engagement and Beauty Tech at Unilever and TRESemmé, Neha Singh, Founder and CEO of Obsess, and Marie Driscoll, Managing Director of Luxury and Retail at Coresight Research discussed how innovations in AI and AR have created new avenues for discovery and engagement in the beauty space.
Watch the full conversation below
Looking at the Resilience of the Beauty Industry
For many industries, the last few years have been a real rollercoaster. During the early onset of the pandemic, travel and hospitality predictably took a nosedive, and many other businesses like department stores suffered because of supply chain issues and a lack of demand as customers remained in their homes.
Industries like beauty and luxury goods, however, fared pretty well during the pandemic, according to Marie Driscoll. As consumers lacked in-person experiences, the best experiences they could achieve through consumer goods were luxury products.
Now, as we’re readjusting to the post-pandemic world, many consumers are traveling again, which is seeing a boom to accommodate pent-up demand. In this new world, beauty and luxury goods have to adapt to a more digitally savvy consumer base; one that is even more connected and tuned into social media and influencer content than ever before.
Still, as Driscoll says, there will always be room for opportunity for the beauty industry because of the confidence it gives its customers.
“I feel that beauty is the ultimate luxury,” she says. “Beauty does it because really, when I see myself when I put on lipstick, I put on eye makeup, I feel like I look better. And it's like an armor going out into the world.”
How Beauty Brands Are Adapting to Changing Times
There are a number of reasons that beauty brands have needed to adapt and adjust their strategies. Not only did the pandemic disrupt typical in-store shopping, product try-on, and the consultative experience that has been a hallmark of the industry for decades, but younger, digitally native generations are now exercising major buying power and have different sets of expectations.
One of the ways brands have adapted is through virtual stores, which offer a 3D, immersive digital experience that brings the typically gridded, bland shopping interface from a web store into a more interactive and engaging environment.
What makes a virtual store such a winning experience with customers is brands can leverage customer data to create a digital environment personalized to the preferences of the individual consumer. Think of it as a store made just for one person. That level of personalization is incredibly successful at fostering engagement and encouraging customers on their buying journey.
“This technology's reaching the point where we actually do have significant amount of data on what works and what doesn't,” says Neha Singh. One of our beauty brands has seen has seen 109% increase in time spent on their virtual store versus the e-commerce website, 112% higher likelihood to check out, and a 35% higher average on the value. So this type of experience is actually something that is resulting in bottom line KPI improvement.
As beauty tech continues to evolve, AI and AR solutions will continue to elevate and enhance the shopping experience, matching consumers with the best products for their needs and driving customer engagement in exciting new ways.
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