Companies must embrace technology to maintain competitive edge

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

For anyone that has been trying to ignore the growing influence that technology is having on our industry, it is seriously time to WAKE UP!

Last week’s in-cosmetics event in Milan really bought that message home. It was everywhere, from phone apps, to internet sales to high tech ingredient to social media… the list of technological innovations was seemingly inexhaustive.

The advent of the internet and computer software has bought enormous changes to the way cosmetics and personal care products are manufactured and also to consumer patterns during the course of the last ten years.

But in the last year or so, huge leaps in technological advances, many of them based on new or updated internet and software applications, have revolutionized aspects of the industry.

2011 is year of the app

During a key marketing presentation given during the event by Irina Barvalova of Euromonitor International, it was highlighted how 2011 is already being heralded as the year of the phone app.

Testimony to this is the fact that now there seems to be a phone app for your every desire. Some of the apps even address desires many of us never knew about.

Thus far most of the launches in this area have been more geared towards the consumer, including a hand full of apps designed for make-up application and an innovation launched by NaTrue to help consumers identify the exact ingredients in individual cosmetic products.

The next logical step would be apps designed for industry professionals. In fact, last year Givaudan was first off the mark, launching a phone app designed to help formulators navigate its database of over 4,000 fragrance ingredients.

Anyone that has missed out on the impact that social media is having on the industry, should really start doing some homework on the subject, now.

Social media impacting industry work patterns

The impact that Facebook and Twitter is having on brands and consumer patterns is heavily documented, but many social media tools are also shaping the way the industry plays its game, too.

Tools such as Linked-in are allowing the industry to network like never before, while Twitter is also playing an increasingly important role.

At last week’s in-cosmetics event a live Twitter feed was broadcast at various locations across the show floor, helping companies, organizations and even individuals to communicate their show activities in a way that could only previously have been dreamed of.

Then there are the huge advances in ingredient technology that is helping formulators to go to the next step, giving consumers products with efficacy claims that were previously considered impossible to achieve.

High-tech ingredients are all the rage

Recent advances in technologies covering areas such as stem cell, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and fullerines are leading to increasingly innovative means of incorporating these substances into formulations to produce skin care, hair care and color cosmetics with new or improved functionality.

Likewise, technology is going a long way towards making the process of manufacturing cosmetics and personal care products far more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Green chemistry is a perfect example of this. By incorporating more cutting edge and energy efficient ways of processing ingredients and formulations, the carbon footprint of finished products is being significantly reduced, allowing manufacturers to boast of greener credentials.

Taking all of this into account, the message to you luddites is clear. Remain technophobic at your peril.

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