NEWS > 22 May 2024

HOW BEAUTY IS PLAYING A PIVOTAL ROLE IN DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

The intersection between beauty and technology is an undeniably vital topic for the evolution of the cosmetics industry today. During the latest edition of Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna key players and company strategists took part in an immersive educational session as part of the CosmoTalks inspirational round-tables, trying to understand which are the key aspects of AI that are impacting the sector, how to deal with them, and which are the next opportunities emerging from these tools.

Thanks to the moderation of Hannah Tindle, Beauty, and Grooming Editor at Wallpaper UK, the conversation started from the actual role of AI in the beauty industry. “The keyword in AI development is personalization. Everything that you see in the high-tech allows you to have the right combination of materials just for your skin, for your climate, for your polluted environment. AI is trained on every possible skin and environment condition, and it can provide any possible product recommendation, but this is just AI for consumers”, highlighted Robin Raskin, Founder of Virtual Events Group. “When it comes to AI from a company or a brand perspective, you are looking at everything from product ideation to what the packaging is going to look like, to where I can source responsible and sustainable materials. AI is human knowledge in a searchable form”.

“Ai is going to create a new culture around beauty, new insights, and new brands, as well as new ways to do marketing on beauty”, echoed Rachel Weiss, Early Stage VC Investor at L'Oréal USA BOLD Ventures. “We are already seeing what AI can do in terms of health and wellness. AI is changing how we work, the way we are doing research, and how we are discovering what’s new”.

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AI AND AR CHANGING THE GAME WHEN IT COMES TO MAKE-UP AND SKINCARE

When it comes specifically to make-up and skincare, AI is deeply connected to AR. Specific AR tools and virtual try-ons were developed over a decade ago: today AR helps collect data for AI apps and personalization strategies, and it can be a key element for brand-new brands and disruptive technologies. Raffaella Gregoris, Founder of Bakel, told about her experience from the CosmoTalks stage. Her brand Bakel was born in 2008 to create completely clean and effective products. What characterizes the brand is its innovative 3D cosmetics technology based on the use of a polymer which is given a three-dimensional structure capable of interacting in a solid state with the skin. The innovative BAKEL® 3D technology, for which the company has obtained 5 patents, allows to bring the highest concentration of active ingredients possible so far in cosmetics into the skin’s deepest layers. “My products were so disruptive and difficult to explain that I needed different codes and tools”, Gregoris explained at Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna. “We needed to analyse all data coming from social media and monitor consumers’ responses after our launch. AI helps collect and analyse data with a scientific approach, which is necessary today to face consumers’ expectations. AI is an educational tool for brands: we can reach more people, you can make scientific information be easily understood by customers, and you can make your product more accessible”.

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THE CHANGE FROM SOCIAL MEDIA TO VIRTUAL SPACES AND THE ROLE OF YOUNGER GENERATIONS

New technologies are influenced by the appetite of younger generations: Gen-Alpha and Gen-Z see no distinction between how they express themselves in the real world and how to behave virtually. Their reaction is leading to deep transformations, with marketing and brands shifting from a social media perspective. The difference between social media and virtual dimensions is becoming undeniable, and the best value to analyse the big change is engagement. “Today in social media you are lucky if you have 3 to 6 seconds of someone’s attention on a platform like Instagram or TikTok; meanwhile, if you look at virtual spaces, the average engagement is 13 minutes”, highlighted Dina Fierro, Senior Vice President, web3/Metaverse Group at Shiseido Americas.

A common link between social media and new digital spaces is the role of creators. Today 72% of advertisers in the US are shifting their investments to creators and influencers marketing rather than celebrities. Creators help brands share new categories and values, and these conversations are highly impacting beauty, as well as people’s perception of their health and values. “When we consider creators' economy in gaming and virtual spaces, creators are having a disruptive impact: they can help sell huge quantities of products, arts, and services because they can capture younger generations and find new codes which deeply differ from old-school beauty stereotypes”, said Fierro. In such a scenario the main rule to follow seems to be authenticity. As highlighted by Fierro, “virtual communities are very sensitive to products and marketing tools, and creators and brands must find a common strategy to offer a qualitative and valuable experience to participants. Virtual worlds will be less driven by algorithms and at the same time more spatial and participatory, allowing co-creation and reciprocity”.

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AI SHAPING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN BEAUTY

While allowing more people to interact and share values, the virtual world is giving extreme opportunities for personalization and highly individual experiences. “The beauty industry is one of the first to train models to different approaches, archetypes, skin types, complexions, and ages. It is a real opportunity for the beauty industry to take a leadership role: it is an incredibly diverse, multi-cultural, and multi-age space”, highlighted Robin Raskin.

The same optimism was shared by Valerie Vacante, VP of Solutions Innovation at Dentsu, who took part in Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna last March as a speaker. “The positive aspect of tech and gaming platforms is that people, when creating their avatars in virtual worlds, can show up whatever they are, without all the physical barriers of real life. Gaming is a universe that is accessible for everyone, from people with disability to the LGBTIQQ community, and this is one of the biggest changes we will experience in the years to come”.

“For 80% of boys the first avatar is female”, echoed Rachel Weiss. Starting from her experience in L’Oréal, Weiss underlined that “there is a lot of research in making AR deal with different hair types, and there is still a lot of work to do just in the capturing of the individual’s features and transform them into technical and digital representations”.

Dina Fierro put under evidence the fact that there is still lots to do to make diversity and inclusion become real: “Large language models are trained on the existing content on the internet, yes this is not necessarily the most diverse and representative of all consumers. Brands need to ensure that diversity and inclusion are considered thoughtfully in the creation of those models”.

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FUTURE PREDICTIONS

When looking at the future, it seems clear that there are great expectations of benefits coming from AI, but many social changes need to happen, too. For sure the line between health, wellness, and beauty is blurring, as well as the difference between physical and digital, thanks to more and more non-traditional technologies showing up. 3D and AR will bring more immersive experiences for consumers, but brands need to generally educate their teams to understand how to enrich their customers’ personal experiences. To do that, new job models must be accepted and included in our society. Inside companies efficiency could be improved by 30 to 40% by using AI, and it would be possible to have more time and budget to pace with competitors. AI can generally reduce time wasted between creation to execution. “AI is changing customers’ support”, highlighted Valerie Vacante. “According to data provided by META, there are over 1 billion messages sent each week on social platforms, and 15 million go unanswered every day by brands. Through AI and tools such as Intelligent Messages brands could make responses become automated, support their human resources, and communicate with their consumers”.

“There are many ways to use AI responsibly”, echoed Rachel Weiss, “but it is fundamental that companies keep testing, learning, and educating their staff, so to avoid putting someone at risk as a consumer”.

“We need AI becoming more predictive so that it can develop some more creativity”, closed Robin Raskin. This is the mission of high-tech departments and experts working in the beauty industry: through AI they will have the opportunity to develop new proposals, lead physical products into a virtual reality, and build new codes and languages.

WATCH THE FULL COSMOTALK VIDEO

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