AI technologies “really make a difference” for beauty shoppers, says new research

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Accenture highlighted that companies must ensure this information is "credible and surfaced in the right ways" (Image: Getty)
Accenture highlighted that companies must ensure this information is "credible and surfaced in the right ways" (Image: Getty)

Related tags Technology beauty tech digital personalised beauty AI retail

A recent consumer study from global professional services company Accenture has revealed that more shoppers are finding buying decisions too overwhelming and therefore walking away from potential purchases.

Findings from Accenture’s Empowered Consumer Report revealed that beauty consumers wanted fact-based guidance that could help them make more informed decisions when making a purchase and that many are putting their faith in technology to improve this.

The report found that 75% of consumers wished they could identify options that would meet their needs more quickly and easily and 72% found it hard to evaluate and compare purchase options because metrics and terminology aren’t consistent. Meanwhile, a huge 78% were unsure whether a product will deliver on its promises because of this.

Accenture noted consumers’ ever-growing need for fact-based information and said that online searches for the terms ‘expert’ or ‘dermatologist’ in relation to beauty products had jumped up by 67% since 2020.

It also highlighted that consumers were 1.73 times more likely to buy more if they “realised something new about their needs or their goals.” And that those who felt the ‘joy of discovery’ were 1.5 times as likely to recommend the brand they bought items from.

Generative AI is allowing for hyper-personalised experiences

Based on its findings, Accenture raised the point that AI technologies can really make a difference by acting as “shopping assistants to help with decision-making throughout the purchasing journey.”

“To remain relevant into the future, companies must rapidly build deep and hyper-personalised relationships – generative AI will enable them to do this on a scale never seen before,” the business consultant company advised.

Accenture also said that generative AI-powered advisors could “calm the confusion consumers feel by helping them compare options based on the metrics they care the most about – whether those are benefits, sustainability credentials, or something else.”

However, it flagged that companies must ensure this information is credible and surfaced in the right ways. “Manufacturers in particular will need to ensure transparency not just in attributes like ingredients or efficacy but across the full value chain, and if any details are likely to cast a bad light, that will prompt changes to elements like formulations, suppliers or packaging,” it shared.  

“By using generative AI and other technologies, companies can create images, video, or audio to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ consumers how products could fit into their lives” and gave the example of beauty tech startup Haut.AI, which uses a portrait photograph and simulates how the sustained use of various beauty products can change a consumers’ skin over time.

Based on these findings, Accenture now expects the rise of generative AI-powered advisors to “redirect the role of consumer marketing away from mass advertising and toward evidence-based information”.

It also said that it “provides marketers an upgrade from offering generic advice at arm’s length to specific recommendations tailored to each consumer.”

There has recently been an upsurge of new AI-based technology in the beauty industry. In the past week, prestige brand Clarins has launched a trial for a customer care bot​ and L’Oréal Group has​ has just unveiled a multitude of tech-savvy skin and hair diagnostics at the Viva Technology show.  

The most human of technologies we have ever seen

According to the survey results, many beauty shoppers have already been turning to generative AI, with 53% of shoppers saying they were open to using conversational AI solutions such as chat bots.

A huge 76% of consumers said they wanted to be surprised by new suggestions that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered, which potentially makes a case for using generative AI advisors to help with purchases, 

And another 56% even said they were open to using gen AI agents to make purchases for them.

In fact, the average beauty shopper reported that they would trust AI nearly as much as in-store staff to recommend products that meet their specific needs.

Accenture’s global lead for beauty practice, Audrey Depraeter-Montacel, commented: “We’re living through an extraordinary period of technological progress. Nothing exemplifies this more than generative AI, which continues to improve in leaps and bounds.”

Depraeter-Montacel continued to say that it is “arguably the most human of technologies we have ever seen, and when used with other advanced technologies, provides beauty companies with the ability to serve relatable and relevant experiences by delivering the right messages to the right people in the right moments.”

Beware of consumers' expectations

However, the report also carried a word of caution when it comes to implementing this technology, as consumers have specific expectations of AI, which includes:

  • Personal data protection: with 85% stating that personal data protection is important when using conversational AI tools.
  • Transparency: with 81% wanting to know what’s behind purchase recommendations from conversational AI tools.
  • And reliability: with 81% of consumers saying that purchase protections are important for purchases made through conversational AI tools.

Based on these findings, Accenture advised that “consumer-facing companies should build in the transparency around how consumers’ data is protected.”

“Companies will need to explain how their recommendations are generated across channels,” it concluded. “They will need to work out how to offer details on guarantees and returns policies when purchases are made through conversational interfaces, as they have done through digital commerce.”

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