Evolution of app technologies in colour cosmetics

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Evolution of app technologies in colour cosmetics
From augmented reality and artificial intelligence, to shifting trends in digital retail, we take a look at how app technologies are shifting colour cosmetics trends and behaviours.

In this feature piece, we give an overview of some of the colour cosmetics-related app technologies already on the market, and how they are impacting on consumer demands and market trends.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) capabilities from technology companies like Perfect365, YouCam, ModiFace and Meitu are being quickly incorporated by cosmetic brands across the board to allow consumers to virtually try on products in the comfort of their own home using nothing just their smartphone.

The appeal of these technologies is in the consumers being offered more engagement and experience, while the apps also provide brands with insights and data which can be applied in other parts of the business.

There are some major success stories already in this space. ModiFace’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology, used for face and hair tracking, was selected by Apple as one of the App Store Best for 2017.

This selection highlights ModiFace's unique technology which utilizes advanced deep neural networks, while solving a practical problem in makeup and hair color simulation in live video​,​” the company explains.


With major players all keen to maximise in the area of augmented reality marketing and retail, we recently shone a spotlight​ one of the major digital elements being used by beauty brands within this trend: chatbots.

Last year, for example, Estée Lauder​​ created a chatbot lipstick advisor which engaged with consumers via Facebook Messenger.

"Messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger are the perfect platform for consumers to search, explore, try-on, and ideally purchase Estée Lauder products​,​” Stephane de La Faverie, global brand president, Estée Lauder, told Essential Retail.

Retail channels: Amazon’s rising dominance

In general terms for consumer goods industries, Amazon is the competitor to beat in the ecommerce space in Europe, a recent L2 report asserts​, noting that the region is the major online retailer's key growth targets.

Amazon captured one-third of all retail sales growth in the UK and Germany in 2016, and is estimated to be the largest general retailer in both countries​,” ​the report explains.​

Indeed, its market share within beauty has been steadily rising across Europe, and looks set to continue to do so in the coming period.

Aside from Amazon, two leading digitally-based retailers that lead in beauty are Ulta and Sephora, as revealed by a recent report from 1010data​.

Ulta’s in-store share currently leads the space with 49% of sales, says the report, while Ulta & Sephora’s combined online sales grew 14% YOY, and subscription boxes declined.

While in-store represents the lion’s share of sales, growth in the beauty space is headed online​,” asserts the report.

There are, however, challengers attempting to make inroads on the beauty marketplace scene. In the UK, Cult Beauty is a popular website, and elsewhere, apps are keen to make inroads.

In a move that offers an example of these efforts, Freauty, an online European marketplace linking consumers up with beauty and wellness professionals, was this month acquired by Urban Massage.

Packaging players

Meanwhile, packaging players are also stepping in to maximise on the potential of app technology for colour cosmetics, and also the wider beauty and personal care market.

At the recent packaging show dedicated to beauty and personal care solutions, PCD&ADF, Paris, several startups showcased emerging tech solutions for the industry.

Check out our roundup of these here​.

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