In the year and decade ahead consumer goods companies must go beyond product to deliver services and experiences that are entirely relevant to the individual consumer when it really matters. But in 2020, brands will be expected to go much further by also positively contributing to the environment.
Beauty is one industry leading the charge in delivering relevance at scale — creating that product or service that’s “just right” for each individual in each moment. But just think about doing that across a customer base of millions — even billions — and you get a sense of the scale of the challenge ahead.
Here are three ways beauty companies are preparing for the journey ahead:
Tech takes the lead
Technology is now the key accelerator for consumer goods companies looking to achieve hyper-relevance at scale. The ability to blend both physical and digital experiences in individually personalized solutions is a big trend to watch out for.
Just look at how beauty brands are changing the way they interact with end-consumers through augmented reality. For example, some brands are using Magic Mirrors to let people try out different hair colors and find the shade that suits in an instant.
Like in many sectors, machine learning is another really vibrant space in beauty right now. Look at what L’Oréal is doing with its recent acquisition Modiface. Using augmented reality and artificial intelligence, the company has trained an algorithm for three different skin type groups in four different lighting conditions which smartphone owners can use to detect and evaluate the unique signs of facial aging.
It’s not only a great new way to leverage the company’s deep industry expertise and deliver a personalized service for customers, it’s also a highly valuable new source of insights for future product development.
Medicinal beauty shakes the foundations
Boundaries between industries are so much more porous than they once were. Across consumer goods — and specifically in beauty — that’s opening the stage for new players from alternate sources to step into the limelight. And life sciences companies are eyeing the possibilities of applying scientific and medical advances in beauty solutions.
Research from University of California geneticist Steve Horvath is radically changing our understanding of how the body’s epigenetic clock (our “biological” age) might be reversed through a combination of hormonal and other therapies.
Innovations like these might still be a way off in terms of practical application, but the potential for major disruption and realignment in the beauty industry is obvious. Which consumers will be willing to spend $1,000 on a 12-ounce pot of face cream when a biotech or medicinal solution can solve the problem at its source?
So far over-the-counter beauty brands have stayed away from emphasizing the medical and/or pharmaceutical aspects of their products. That’s now likely to change, especially in the way brands talk to older, more health-focused consumers.
Sustainability is top of the consumer agenda today, and it’s a trend that will only grow over the next 12 months. Shoppers want to reduce their environmental impact, and they’re thinking much more critically about how their products are used and packaged.
Brands are responding. One U.K. company introduced “black wax,” a blend of moisture-resistant waxes and coloring pigments to reduce packaging and keep products in good shape during transport. And Seed Phytonutrients has a low-plastic paper-based bottle that’s safe to take into the shower.
The potential for the beauty industry is obvious. And with sustainability-focused brands like Plaine Products already offering refill programs, it can’t be long before IoT-powered automated refill subscription offerings are a widespread reality in beauty.
Indeed, the year ahead will see the continued evolution of product packaging from something which merely contains, protects and communicates to something which takes a key role in the connected ecosystem of our lives.
So, this year, expect packaging to get smarter and more sustainable. Refillable and reusable will be the order of the day. Less pretty, perhaps. But more eco-friendly. And when combined with the IoT, a vehicle for really new and exciting user-centric beauty services.
Make 2020 the year to deliver relevance at scale
As the ground keeps moving underfoot, the successful consumer goods companies in 2020 will be those that capture the value of the rapidly evolving digital technologies and focus efforts on building a company with the capabilities to deliver relevance at scale. Getting that right will be the secret to future success and growth.
Laura Gurski is senior managing director and global lead for Consumer Goods & Services at Accenture.