How beauty brands are evolving to cater for a low-touch future
Welcome to the new normal where you can swatch lipstick shades with an app and have a professional facial at home via Zoom
You only need to walk into any beauty department destination to realise that the world of beauty has taken a turn since the Covid-19 pandemic took over the world in March.
The once bustling beauty counters filled with customers touching, feeling and getting their shade matched by consultants has been exchanged for an eerie emptiness since the order for a national lockdown.
You are no longer greeted enthusiastically by a beauty consultant offering to swatch you with the latest shade of lipstick or encouraging you to try out one of the makeup testers.
Instead, that same consultant, though eager to be helpful, is slightly more hesitant and spatially aware in their approach and the customer-consultant experience feels a little strained, distant and less hands-on.
The pandemic has definitely forced the beauty industry to rethink its approach from not only a retail but experiential point of view. A tough ask for an industry that is majority touch-based. The burgeoning technologies and practices that were set to propel the beauty industry forward — and that had seemed like a distant future implementation — have been forced to become immediate.
Dermalogica's national education manager Marja Basson gives insight into some of the in-salon and retail changes the pandemic has brought about, including the brand's Clean Touch Certification training course for salons, therapists and makeup artists.
"We have implemented online consultation card completion, or the therapist can complete it on an iPad on behalf of the client instead of the client completing it with pen and paper," says Basson.
"Testers are no longer on retail shelves for clients to pick up and play with, but are packed away in a closed container. Herbal teas and water are no longer offered, and waiting rooms or areas in reception are being avoided to limit the number of people in the skin-care centre."
The demand from beauty consumers for the industry to be less touch-based and more available via their devices has led to brands seeing a huge uptick in online sales. Sales of skincare and personal-care products have increased, while colour makeup purchases have declined, due to the inability of consumers to product sample and swatch.
It seems the industry has been listening, coming up with innovations and technological shifts to ensure the beauty industry and its consumers are connected like never before.
1. AR TECHNOLOGY
If you are a fan of Instagram or Snapchat then you are no stranger to AR technology or augmented reality. The tech that has been used to create the filters that can manifest puppy-dog ears on your head or provide multiple swipes of lipstick colours on your makeup-free days is the same tech that's providing a solution for the industry's high-touch model.
Brands such as Maybelline, L'Oréal, MAC Cosmetics, Kylie Cosmetics, SmashBox and MRP Scarlet Hill have all taken advantage of the AR technology and makeup try-on apps as a tool to bring their consumers closer to product testing from a safe distance.
2. FOUNDATION FINDER TOOL
Foundation has to be the most frustrating product to buy, especially if you're not sure of your shade and have no way of testing a sample on your own skin. But imagine if you could find your perfect match from the comfort of your own home and then be able to purchase it online.
Maybelline's Foundation Finder Tool, available on maybelline.co.za, allows you to bypass the shade-matching experience at counter and find your match from their FitMe range using a selfie or by answering a questionnaire.
3. INSTAGRAM BEAUTY FILTERS
Beauty brands are capitalising on the opportunity that filters offer in bringing the consumer closer to product. MAC Cosmetics are masters at championing the Insta-filters space, always making sure to dovetail their key beauty campaigns with an appropriate filter.
Scarlet Hill, a local beauty brand and newbie to the industry, has followed in big-brand footsteps by making it easy to try on their lipstick shade range with corresponding texture finishes.
4. VIRTUAL PROFESSIONAL TREATMENTS
While brick and mortar retail beauty spaces have been hard hit by the pandemic, high-touch establishments such as salons have been hit even harder. Enter virtual professional treatments.
Local skincare brand Optiphi has designed a way to not only curb the negative economic effects that lockdown has had on salon owners and therapists but to also give cautious clients professional salon treatments in the comfort of their home. With the development of three one-hour professional treatment kits — categorised from beginner to advanced — clients can now order online using a product purchase code available from your Optiphi salon therapist or skin centre of choice. Once your treatment kit has been delivered, your assigned therapist will call to set up an appointment time. Sessions can be done over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facetime or Whatsapp call — whatever suits you.
5. SOCIALLY DISTANCED LAUNCHES
Huge budget spenders and great crowd pullers, one of the most exciting changes in the industry has been the way brands do beauty launches. According to a Business of Fashion article, Dermalogica hosted a beauty influencer launch for a new exfoliant product in a drive-in format earlier this month in Los Angeles.
Woolworths, for their annual Christmas event this year, swapped out domestic flight tickets and event spaces for specially curated press packs delivered to guests' homes prior to the virtual event and on the day, a super interactive, follow-along walk through the entire Christmas offering, from food and fashion to decorations and beauty.