This summer, Neutrogena will launch the SkinScanner and Skin360, a device and partner app, respectively. Together, they promise to teach customers all they could care to know about the state of their skin. They’re also poised to drive sales of Neutrogena skin-care products.
It’s not the first beauty brand to venture beyond products and into tech, and it’s a trend that’s catching on. Brands are finding ways to make tech devices, which already drive buzz due to their novelty, further work to their advantage. A common theme is developing a tool that informs customers of features that need perfecting and then serves them up a personalized, problem-solving product — for example, a moisturizer, a serum or a mask. Conveniently, the recommendations are consistently from the brand’s own product line.
A screenshot from the Neutrogena Skin360 app
To use Neutrogena’s $50 SkinScanner, users must attach it to a phone and touch the scanner to their skin. The app will then calculate a “Skin360 Score” of the skin’s moisture levels, pores and wrinkles. To see improved scores in the future, they are encouraged to tap the “Improve” button, which results in recommendations like sunscreen and products containing retinol. Customers are then directed to the Neutrogena site and the products that fit the bill.
With help from Modiface, Benefit launched the Benefit Brow Try-On app in January, which incorporates augmented reality technology, allowing users to upload a selfie, then “try on” 15 eyebrow styles, each available in six shades. Once they settle on a look, they can toggle over to the “Get This Brow” tab for products that are said to offer the same results. Suggestions include e-shoppable product, including eye pencils and brow wax, plus there’s an option to schedule a brow wax at one of Benefit’s brick-and-mortar locations.
“Not only are these types of personalizations more engaging, but we have direct data that they lead to more conversions and sales,” said Parham Aarabi, CEO and founder of augmented reality company Modiface, which powers technology for brands including Sephora and Urban Decay. “With hyper-personalization rising in all industries, it makes sense that consumers would want it from an industry as personal as beauty.”
Last year, H2O+ Beauty launched the MiLi Skin Moisture Meter, a handheld device that measures skin’s hydration levels. The meter was included with the purchase of the Oasis Hydrating Treatment, a moisturizer the brand describes as “clinically proven to keep your skin continuously hydrated for 24 hours.” The idea was for consumers to test their hydration levels throughout the day, which would reinforce the product’s effectiveness. According to a rep from H20+, the moisture meter is being discontinued.
A screenshot from the HelloAva app
As the beauty brands work to embrace tech, new tech companies with a focus on beauty are entering the market: Driven by research showing that 90 percent of customers find the experience of shopping for skin care to be frustrating, financial analyst Siqi Mou decided to launch a tech company, rather than a customized skin-care line as she’d originally planned. The result: HelloAva, a chatbot app that gathers data about users’ skin, and recommends specific products from brands like Perricone MD, Kate Somerville and Murad. HelloAva receives a commission from the brand when products are sold, but Mou considers the app “a neutral advisor.”
“We started HelloAva due to our own personal frustration with skin care: Everyone’s skin is unique, so why can’t anyone provide us with real, data-driven advice on the best products for our unique skin?” Mou said. “Brands always promote their own products as the answer.”
The HelloAva team vets each product before allowing it onto the platform. “Within the brands we have curated on the platform, the commission percentage is the same across the board, which makes our recommendations unbiased,” said Mou. “We are not incentivized to push one product over another.”
Whether self-serving or not, brands’ tech devices are at least working to inform consumers, said Dr. Robert Grove, a development advisor at Arbonne. “Any diagnostic device that brings the importance and awareness of skin health to the consumer will ultimately help,” he said. However, he was quick to note that “a professional opinion from a dermatologist is best.”
And, according to Aarabi, consumers are hungry for this type of advanced skin-care offering: “Who wouldn’t want the product that’s best for their [unique] skin type, skin tone or hair color?”