Exclusive: What Asia's mobile-first market means to you

  • With Happy Marketer presenting upon What Asia's mobile-first market means to you at in-cosmetics Korea 2017, we caught up with Sanchit Mendiratta, one of the company partners, to get his thoughts upon the topic...

    How has the growth of mobile platforms been applied to the beauty industry?

    According to Facebook’s The Mobile Makeover, 63% of beauty customers have agreed they can’t live without their mobile device or smartphone, while 45% of beauty customers have agreed that their cell phone is rapidly turning into their most essential shopping tool.

    The connection to mobile is much more personal and intimate, compared to that of TVs and computers. Smartphones have doubled up as personal beauty consultants. Rather than seeking gleaming design magazines for motivation, shoppers can look at an influencer’s tutorial or a friend’s selfie or reviews, all on the mobile. They can seek beauty content such as tutorials, tips, blogs, reviews and recommendations, hacks, and product descriptions, anytime and anywhere, whether inside a store or not, with just a few taps on their portable device.

    Mobile also plays an important role in the discovery of content and innovation in the beauty industry, such as with beauty apps, powered by AR/VR technology, that can check how a particular lip colour or nail paint would look on a customer prior to them making an online purchase. The strengths of the mobile technology, such as high quality visual content shown by apps such as Instagram or location targeting (geolocation-based technology used by brands to give specific offers when the customer is around the store) align well with the needs of the millennials. Thus, in a way, mobile technology is reducing the gap between between the customer and the brand.

    What kind of information do you think the beauty industry will be able to convey via mobile platforms and how will the purchasing method develop in the future?

    Beauty consumers are increasingly seeking as much product information as they possibly can prior to purchase; in turn, mobile platforms have responded to that demand and made it far easier for that information can be acquired. The rise of safe cosmetics consumers, for example, has played a significant part in the development of the ThinkDirty mobile app, whereby users can scan the barcode of beauty products in order for the app to share vital information about the nature (safety/toxicity) of the ingredients used.

    Assessing the suitability of a beauty product before buying it is also seen as considerably important, especially given the increased tendency to purchase products online. With this in mind, the millennials and the selfie generation's desire for products that are highly customised for them is strengthened further. Even better still is the ability for them to create the product themselves. Finding Ferdinand is a custom lipstick brand that allows customers to mix shades of lipsticks of their own preferences from the palette, and place the order online via the app. Along similar lines, MatchCo, a custom foundation app, turns the camera of the smartphone into a colorimeter to figure out the skin tone of a customer, and creates a shade of foundation to match the unique skin colour of the customer.

    In terms of changes specifically to the purchasing method of beauty products, automatic beauty shoppers are becoming very popular. Stash is an example of a mobile app that does the shopping of beauty products for customers. By scanning the barcodes of their at-home beauty products, the app generates a database of the customer’s favourite products. It then automatically calculates the time when the product is likely to have run out and adds the product to the cart.

    Can you give us examples of mobile marketing in leading cosmetics companies in the US and Europe?

    In 2016, Glossier, a brand that got created out of a well-known beauty blog, Into the Gloss, increased its revenue by 600% through mobile marketing and app innovation. Dior has launched Dior Insider, a chatbot that uses Messenger to deliver personalized, premium content to the consumers. And L’Oreal partnered with AR firm ModiFace in 2016, launching a number of AR beauty apps such as L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius app and YouCam Makeup.

    Tell me more about ModiFace and the apps to have been developed following this partnership. Do you think that we will start to see immersive technology such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applied to the beauty business with more regularity?

    ModiFace is one of the top makers of beauty and image editing applications supported by AR technology. It shows live changes in 3D for makeup, hair, skin and anti-ageing products for such brands as Clinique, Estée Lauder, Shiseido and Shu Uemura. ModiFace said that its innovation is utilized as a part of more than 150 apps, and has been downloaded over 60 million times.

    The YouCam Makeup App, otherwise known as YouCam Virtual Makeover & Beauty Studio allows customers to try on makeup via AR technology. The app is one of the highly rated apps in Google photography apps, and has earned more than 1.27 million five-star reviews.

    L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius, instead of displaying products as static images, showcases them in the form of real-time videos. The app can capture 64 facial points, up to 100 expressions, and head movements of up to 60 degrees. The app has been downloaded 6.3 million times.

    What is clear is that brands using VR and AR for this purpose, although still considered pioneering, are gaining significant leverage in the market as a direct result of the consumer's attraction to this innovation. Expect immersive technology to become much more prevalent in the coming months and years as brands look to ensure that they are not getting left behind by the competition.

    In Korea, the share of online purchasing of cosmetics is steadily growing as the influence of SNS information increases. Is online purchasing active in North America and Europe? Please share your insight on the outlook for purchasing platforms.

    According to A. T. Kearney, Europe’s online beauty industry is anticipated to keep growing by over 8% until 2019. The report also pointed out that online channels grow 4 times quicker than stationary, physical beauty stores. As of now, Europe's leading online retailers from the beauty industry are getting around 50% of their business from smartphones. In The Hariss’ Poll conducted in 2016 in the US, 35% of those surveyed said that they purchased beauty products online.

    One of the reasons why I think that the beauty market is conquering the online space is because technologically advanced beauty apps have been so successful in reducing the gap between purchasing beauty products in stores and e-commerce. Being able to use these apps to convert the front-facing camera of a smartphone into a virtual mirror combines the convenience of online shopping with the consumer preference of being able to try-before-you-buy.

    Engaging with prominent social media stars is another way that companies in the beauty market are increasing their brand exposure and taking advantage of the online purchasing trend. Influencers who have millions of followers on social media are providing information about beauty products to the consumers, gaining their trust and swaying their purchasing decisions. They share specific discounts codes with their users, which propel online purchases of the products. For example, Laura Lee, a beauty and fashion blogger with 1.4 million followers on Instagram, shares coupon codes such as “LauraLee”, granting 10% off the total order of Morphe Brushes products.

    In short, digital journeys are getting shorter and shorter for beauty consumers. Using online technology to get a real-life-esque experience via recommendations, product trials, etc. has made getting from online content to the online counter so much easier and far less time consuming.

    Sanchit Mendiratta will be speaking upon this topic in the Marketing Trends & Regulations Theatre at 13:00-13:45 on 20 June 2017. If you haven't already registered to attend in-cosmetics Korea 2017, click here for free entry to the show.

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