Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oréal’s technology incubator, spoke on recent and forthcoming tech-enabled consumer product launches. Google pros Norah Lewin, the company’s global brand lead for beauty, and Charlotte van der Smeede, also a brand lead at Google, presented on the future of tech and the AI-first world to come. And Emma Fric, the head of research and future insights at Peclers Paris, talked about tech-driven consumer trends in the beauty space.
The L’Oréal technology incubator develops and launches one product each year, according to Balooch. His team, for instance, debuted My UV Patch in 2016 and the Kérastase Hair Coach in 2017.
L’Oreal is an industry leader in many areas and technology is just one of them. But in his years at the incubator Balooch has learned that beauty tech isn’t always only about better, smarter, faster, newer equipment. “The most important thing,” says Balooch, “is to not make the tech about innovation of sensors etc. but to improve consumer’s beauty routines.”
According to Google’s van der Smeede, humanity has only just begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible with digital. She points to the potential of “mass data generation” and “smarter computer platforms” that can make sense of that data as the future of the digital economy.
Her colleague Lewin, calls attention to Sephora as a leader in the digital beauty space. She applauded the retailer’s strategy of testing out new tech tools first in slightly clunky versions on its mobile site and only rolling those tools out in app form if consumers used them, enjoyed them, and made purchases because of them.
Sharing insights from Peclers Paris latest beauty trends booklet, Fric explained how technology and science are changing the consumer mindset. She pointed to three tech-driven consumer trends: embracing plurality, creative hackers, and surfing the multiverse.
In her discussion of the trend to embrace plurality, Fric noted that for today’s consumer there is a “celebration of paradox.” Consumers are keen to be “more ephemeral, more spontaneous, more real” while simultaneously taking up the “digital aesthetic language” that social media has created.
Creative hackers like to collaborate with brands and use tech tools to develop and personalize their products. They’re open to merging different industries and influences, say Fric. And the trend of surfing the multiverse has “reality, virtuality, and fiction becoming one,” she says. This space is seamlessly digital, allows for tech and science to open up “a new mood spectrum,” and adds “synesthesia to brand strategy.”