Unilever Living Proof exec: Consumers ready to ‘deep-dive’ into hair science

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hair care continues to boom and consumers have newfound interest in better understanding their hair type and needs on a personalised level [Getty Images]
Hair care continues to boom and consumers have newfound interest in better understanding their hair type and needs on a personalised level [Getty Images]

Related tags: Hair care, beauty tech, beauty 4.0, digital, AI, Hair, Unilever, Artificial intelligence

Unilever’s prestige brand Living Proof and Finnish tech firm Revieve have co-developed an AI hair care advisor tool designed to offer consumers extensive and personalised insight on the science behind their hair.

Launched last month, Revieve and Living Proof had spent more than a year developing the the AI hair care advisor tool – now available on Living Proof’s UK and US websites and primed for a global rollout in time. The online tool, designed for use on a mobile phone, used patented mobile image diagnostics, user input and AI-powered insight to offer consumers a better understanding on hair type and make personalised recommendations for routines and products.

Beauty consumers ‘are ready’ for deeper hair knowledge

John Winer, VP of digital at Living Proof for Unilever Prestige, said the launch had come at an important time for the hair care industry as consumers continued to shift online post-COVID, meaning digital was “the future”​.

“We do believe people are ready for this because we know consultation is a big piece for hair care. A lot of people believe their hair is something it’s not, and mostly that’s because of what they’re reading from bigger brands,”​ Winer told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

“…With the explosion of hair care in general, a lot of people are trying and doing different stuff, and we love that, but we want to ensure that they know what’s happening to their hair. This is a service we’re giving to just understanding hair.”

Sampo Parkkinen, CEO and founder of Revieve, agreed: “What we saw, and obviously still see, is the ability to deep-dive into the fundamental consumer problems, issues and needs that they have. It’s one thing just to apply some technology on a website or in a salon or in a store, but it’s a whole other perspective from the tech side of things when you’re actually able to understand and address the root consumer pains, problems, desires and needs. From our point of view, consumers are ready.”

Winer said the goal of the AI hair care advisor tool was to mimic a hair salon consultation experience digitally, offering consumers expert insight into their hair type, styling needs, and overall opportunities for treatments and hair care. The aim was to provide this in report-form to consumers, to use as they wish, he said, but also, as a hair care brand, offer relevant product recommendations in addition.

Living Proof offers a range of science-backed prestige hair care products [Image: Unilever/Living Proof]
Living Proof offers a range of science-backed prestige hair care products [Image: Unilever/Living Proof]

“We want to do a deep-dive into the science behind your hair; we really want to know what’s going on.

“…The more people know, the more knowledge we give them, the better off they’re going to be with product selection and getting to where they want to be with their hair. Everybody’s hair is unique, and people want to do different things to their hair,” ​he said.

Digital power – deep insight, machine-learning and diversity

Parkkinen added that what would be important, and had been considered with this AI tool, was that hair care insight was provided in an accessible way, although that didn’t mean shying away from the science.

“Just as if you think of going for an in-salon hair consultation, it’s important that a person is able to translate knowledge to something a consumer can understand, it’s absolutely critical for these digital solutions as well. Now, of course, they have to deliver value to the consumer – they can’t be simple toys or gimmicks, there has to be a certain amount of credibility – which is what the science backing Living Proof has.”

The AI hair care advisor tool has been designed to use on a mobile and provide accessible insight [Image: Revieve]
The AI hair care advisor tool has been designed to use on a mobile and provide accessible insight [Image: Revieve]

Looking ahead, he said what was exciting about this technology and tool was its machine-learning capabilities, meaning the hair health reports would get “better over time”,​ in terms of accuracy, reach of analysis and breadth of product recommendations.

Revieve and Living Proof eventually wanted this tool to provide insight for “everyone, not just a small subset of users”​ – covering a wide span of hair types and hair styles. Parkkinen said launching the tool in the US and UK, where there was a “very diverse set of consumers”,​ was an important move in building out the tool to cater to all.

Onboarding other ‘aligned’ beauty brands and retailers

Asked if the AI hair care advisor tool would eventually be made available to other brands, Parkkinen said it would be, and that type of expansion was certainly the longer-term vision for the technology.

“Gradually, we will start offering aspects of this to other brands, and also retailers and multi-brand retailers at some point. But Living Proof has been our co-development partner, so they were the first one to really understand and align with us on what it is we want to launch (…) and from that perspective, they are the pioneer on this.”

However, he said Revieve carefully select brand partners it wanted to work with in the future. “Our philosophy as a company has never been to sell these [tools] to everyone. The brands we partner up with need to be aligned with us as a company, because ultimately we want the consumer to get the best possible experience for hair care​.

Revieve already worked with a host of beauty companies, most recently providing detail on its work with A.S. Watson via its AI skin advisor tool.

Related topics: Brand Innovation, Digital, Hair Care

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