The beauty industry is on a collision course, where product marketing, design and technology will meet.
Brave and disruptive beauty brands can become category leaders; bringing new and exciting products to life, both physically and digitally. The secret to creating a brave and relentlessly innovative brand will be utilizing great storytelling, creating personalized experiences, even entertainment, and leveraging new technological advancements in color, 3D printing and virtual reality.
We all feel, touch and see things differently; we perceive and distinguish brands and experiences sensorially, so how can beauty brands stand out and connect with the consumer on a personal level? By embracing innovation, building their story through multi-sensory and experiential branding – without fear of failure.
According to trends forecasting website WGSN, within the next 5 years the greatest impact on color will be technology. Technology will change the way we make color, the way we see it, use it, wear it and choose it. Brand design will be redefined by color advancements in science such as nano-tech (blacker than black), or through digital and reactive colors using thermochromic or temperature sensitive finishing.
Some brands are already using these methods to distinguish the way consumers experience their products: Stas Neretin’s blushing skin packaging for Naked skincare products, Patrycja Domanska’s color changing pendant lamp Holo, and flowers that change color by Bompas & Parr.
The automotive sector is another source of inspiration when it comes to color advancements that can be applied to the beauty industry. At this year’s New York International Auto Show, we saw how designers are layering colors and shades to create advanced lacquers for the next ‘big’ direction in automotive finishes. Similar to the automotive industry, the beauty industry can utilize these ideas in their brands and products to stay relevant and emotionally connect with consumers. This is especially true with new technologies like 3D printing and virtual reality offering the opportunity to create both personal products and experiences for the consumer.
3D printing brings about precise and fresh applications of color, but this goes beyond cosmetics offering a high level of customization and individuality. See this conceived in 3D printed makeup, where you can select the right mix of colors and compounds to create that perfect shade; 3D printed manicures with personalized designs, or 3D printed life-like hair in different colors are other customizable options. These technologies create the potential for brands to earn loyalty from consumers looking for the personalized touch. Traditional, established beauty brands may be struggling to connect with younger, more diverse consumers because of their limited color palettes and perception of favoring profits over consumer delight. Options for personalization could help re-define these brands to attract consumers who are moving to boutique brands.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are being used in many categories of business already, but how beauty brands may leverage these technologies is still in its exploratory phase. Some are experimenting, including Sephora who recently partnered with Pantone to create their own Sephora to Go mobile app, where consumers can virtually try on more than 3,000 shades of lip-gloss. L’Oreal, whose virtual mirror Makeup Genius proved successful among consumers looking to ‘try out’ the brand’s cosmetics, was another iteration of AR in the beauty sector. But are these applications useful to the consumer or are beauty brands just talking to themselves? With the overwhelming potential of VR, experiences for beauty products need to be more engaging than just 360° videos and the current augmented reality apps.
Technology in general offers enormous potential with color advancements redefining brand design. 3D printing offers new levels of personalization and VR can create interactions and experiences in real-time. A few brands are creating products that generate conversations, but are they enough? Technology and video production have made it possible for almost anyone, anywhere, to be a storyteller – but that doesn’t always translate into a great story. Take Dior’s J’aDore with Charlize Theron. It’s a dream-like, futuristic plot with heavy-handed symbology, but comes off confusing, leaving the viewer wondering what the fragrance’s position is. Will these future technologies also be underutilized or will brands take risks and embrace this ‘new tech’ in order to make them useful to consumers in the beauty sector and beyond?
Brands must continue to create products that are innovative, supported by marketing activities and stories that deliver immersive experiences consumers will want to share. If brands can harness technology such as VR to create a blended reality of the fantasy and desire they are trying to sell in their fragrance or cosmetics, for example – then they’ll be onto something.
As featured by Beauty Packaging
Written by Mark O’Donnell