Top takeaways from TREND: The Digitalisation of the Beauty Industry

Verb, Trend Event, Soho, London, 09/11/2017

‘Personalisation’ was the most mentioned word during the talks at TREND last week.

The evening kicked off with a talk from Amy Kean who is the VP of Transformation at Coty’s internal agency, Beamly. Amy highlighted that the need to transform businesses is so that we can be prepared for the future; but often, we use technology in a way that consumers are not demanding it.

“Two thirds (65%) of European beauty consumers use digital platforms to find inspiration”

Kean stated how mobile phones have become our mirrors, a constant source of reflection that we use for our everyday lives. Embracing this trend can hugely help the beauty industry to get closer to consumers as the channels are already out there (AR, Instagram, Insta stories or Snapchat to name a few).

The beauty industry is seeing intense business disruptions such as the growth of bold makeup artistry brands like NYX, subscription-based beauty brands like Beauty Pie and the change in traditional narrative for brands like Tom Ford naming their product line. However, what the consumer wants from beauty hasn’t changed: Quality, effectiveness and kudos. These are, and will always be absolutely key for beauty brands.

Luxury brands are seeing the need to get closer to their consumers in order to compete with emerging (much cheaper) beauty brands. Collaboration, craftsmanship and escapism are three trends these brands are embracing. “It is not about following a trend, but rather feeling what consumers want to hear and feel.”

Kean finalised stating how getting personal doesn’t mean just saying somebody’s name, it is about personalising the path-to-purchase. This personalisation is driving up to 35% conversion.


Mikela Eskenazi, Commercial Director and AR Expert gave the second keynote speech on Augmented Reality for beauty businesses.

Mikela stated that today’s shoppers seek experiences at all levels, whether they are online or offline. And there are three key facts to take in consideration about how to apply AR to beauty:

  1. Brick & mortar stores dominate:

“93% of sales still happen in-store, where shoppers can interact with beauty consultants”

Sephora, for instance, shows the importance of enhancing the retail space – “the line between digital and physical shopping is rapidly blurring, as technology transforms retail stores that aim to combine the best of hands-on shopping with the speed and efficiency of the web”.

  1. Consumer expectations are changing

“Today’s shopper already expects a level of personalisation from brands and that need of offering personalised content is a key driver of innovation in the industry.”

  1. Expanding complex category:

“The beauty industry is driven by constant (and expensive) new product development. Through AR, brands like Revlon have been able to figure out which are the top chosen lipstick colours, resulting in more accurate production, therefore reducing unnecessary costs.”


Mikela Eskenazi concluded her presentation outlining the three key trends for the future:

  1. Products are a new digital channel.
  2. Facial recognition as a key personalisation tool. Mikela highlighted that the ability to recognise which products the consumer is wearing will revolutionise the market.
  3. AI and AR as personal assistants. Make the whole communication process as efficient and personal as possible.

The panel debate was formed by expert speakers from media, retail and marketing backgrounds. Charlotte Parks-Taylor, Head of Strategy at Cream UK highlighted that the main change in consumer behaviour has been the massive access to information that modern consumers have.

“When previously luxury brands were the ultimate source of inspiration, now consumers embrace the power of digital to get inspiration from many different (and real) sources, such as influencers.”

Beauty consumption

Content creation was an interesting topic for this particular industry. We have seen makeup tutorials being the most popular type of beauty consumption in 2017 and brands have been investing less in traditional advertising. However, this form of media is still very relevant to beauty.

“If a brand wants to launch a product in a short period of time, traditional advertising such as TV and billboards are absolutely key to get your brand out there” – Amy Kean

Chris Donnelly, Founder and Managing Director at Verb discussed a great example of a brand doing well mixing content and commerce. Glossier was born from the blog Into the Gloss which resulted into an accumulation of an enormous amount of data of their readership, which then turned into a very successful eCommerce brand.


Lucy Hirom, Head of Digital Marketing at Liberty London explained that for luxury brands, the use of technology has to be applied slightly differently.

A great example of how a luxury retailer is using AR would be Charlotte Tilbury and the magic mirror. If your brand offers an exclusive product, the application of this technology needs to feel exclusive and personalised and AR is a fantastic way to do so even in-store”.

Hirom also commented on the fact that luxury retailers are doing in-store product launches and events with celebrities in order to increase sales offline.

“The key success factor of this is the alignment between the celebrity and the product, but also the celebrity and the consumer. When the consumers feel aligned with the celebrity taste and values, they are much more likely to feel aligned with the product.”

However, some luxury brands cannot afford to work with celebrities. All panellists agreed and concluded that for those, the most important thing is to tell your story, how did it started, which natural products you use and how you differentiate from the rest. Authenticity is a big part of what sells well. Don’t try to be someone you’re not and choose your partners wisely. Working with micro-influencers and creating collaborative content can definitely help raise your brand profile.