Dreaming up Beauty 4.0: Think readable face masks, smart mirrors and digital packaging

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

'Technology will be invested into personalisation, for sure' (Getty Images)
'Technology will be invested into personalisation, for sure' (Getty Images)

Related tags Artificial intelligence Augmented reality digital big data Technology beauty 4.0

The beauty tech race is on, with artificial intelligence, augmented reality, big data and mobile apps becoming part and parcel of everyday business. But what exactly might the future look like?

We caught up with the head of Consumer Goods and Services at strategy and consulting firm Accenture Laura Gurski to dream up what Beauty 4.0 could look like in the coming years.

Personalisation, personalisation, personalisation…

“Technology will be invested into personalisation, for sure,”​ Gurski told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

“Industry will use technology in new product development to improve the performance of some things and they’ll also have a better understanding on how things work,” ​she said.

Investments would also enable the “next generation of IoT”​ [Interned of Things], changing how consumers interacted with beauty products, she said. “You can envision, as an example, putting on a mask that’s filled with little beads that read your skin and then you wash it off.”

A couple of companies were also in the midst of testing smart mirrors capable of reading a consumer’s face – highly promising for the dermatology sector, she said. 

Could smart mirrors be a household staple of the future? (Getty Images)
Could smart mirrors be a household staple of the future? (Getty Images)

Beverages, nutraceuticals and life sciences

Gurski said a quick look at what beverages had achieved with IoT advances was just “amazing”​ [think virtual reality for ‘see-through’ canned drinks or ‘digital beers’ with smart codes and sensors for product information]. “To move that over to beauty would be interesting,”​ she said.

There was also scope for beauty to shift further into the nutraceutical space and capitalise on personalisation opportunities there, she said. “It just depends how far [the beauty] industry wants to go, because the information they gain will take them into a life sciences territory.”

So far, Gurski said the beauty sector had typically focused on performance and enhancement, keeping a “lighter tone”​ on how products functioned and the science behind them, although that could change.

Brand messaging shake-up?

Asked if beauty would have to start providing deeper explanations as technology advanced, she said: “It’s a really interesting question. Will they change their brand positioning to become more medicalised and pharmaceutical? You do see that for the heavy-duty, almost pharmaceutical products, they come at it from that perspective. But over-the-counter true beauty, beauty – they’ve stayed away from that.”

Ultimately, how brand messaging evolved would depend on the target consumer, she said. Younger consumers, Gurski said, remained focused on a product being clean, authentic and sustainable, whereas older individuals showed more concern around medical benefits.

“The question is: will you wind up going too far for your 16-year old just getting ready for prom?”

There were also regulatory approvals to consider, she said, and many beauty companies were “just not set up for that”.

Beauty tech investments and acquisitions

“It’s a really fascinating time, just to watch everything happening in the whole consumer packaged goods industry and to compare. I’m in a fabulous spot to compare all these sectors and companies and see all these trends,” ​Gurski said.

One thing was clear for beauty, she said – tech investments would continue, either organically or through acquisitions, laying down the foundations for brands to “stay ahead of everybody else”.

Gurski previously told CosmeticsDesign-Europe European beauty was ahead of the pack with tech investments​ and would ultimately mature fastest.

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