Welcome to the age of ‘phygital’ beauty

With digital technology and the smart phone entering its second decade, e-tailers are having to adapt to an increasingly tech-savvy consumer. The beauty industry is evolving to harness its power with new ways of selling. Welcome to the age of ‘phygital beauty’.
“Paying influencers to do make-up tutorials is becoming less effective as the marketplace becomes more cynical and savvy about marketing formulas behind digital platforms such as Instagram,” says beauty writer, Elizabeth Clarke.  “In the UK this year, the use of influencers in marketing campaigns has fallen. Unless you are prepared to invest time and money into studying this space you are very much operating in the dark.  Much of the influencer economy is still ‘cowboy territory’.  We are having to look at new ways of engaging with consumers. 
“I think there is a return to authenticity.  The use of older models and brand ambassadors such as Isabella Rossellini (Lancôme) are a soothing antidote to the air-brushed selfie.  Let’s face it the average person on the beach does not look like the bikini clad perfection we are bombarded with on Instagram.  The same applies to faces and makeup.  People are sick of it.”
It seems that consumers are wanting to reclaim their power and the emergence of beauty apps such as L’Oreal’s The Makeup Genius allows consumers to do this by ‘trying on’ make-up from home.  They get to see what the makeup looks like on them, rather than a super-model.  The app scans your face and allows you to try out different products or entire makeup looks.  Even better it uses real time facial recognition technology, allowing the virtual makeup to stay in place as you move your face.  And, if you wish you can save your selfie, share it on social media as well as purchase the products directly through the app. The app has been a huge global success, with over 11 million downloads. The company is now hoping to bring out versions for hair colour, hair styling and skincare.
L’Oreal owned NXS brand has also created The Face Awards, an online make-up competition for beauty vloggers, where anyone can enter by creating a video showcasing their make-up skills. The competition culminates in the ‘Beauty Vlogger of the Year’ award, with the finalists and eventual winner being decided by the audience. Not only does the competition increase general awareness of the NYX brand, but by involving the audience throughout, it gives them something to truly invest in.
Relative newcomer to the industry is Glossier - hailed as the millennials’ Estee Lauder.  The brand was launched in 2010 by Emily Weiss and her branding and savvy use of social media has captured the hearts and minds of her target market gaining a massive 1.3 million followers. The message is positive.  It celebrates uniqueness, diversity and being happy in the skin you’re in.
Interesting innovations are also being seen in dermatology. For example, the ModiFace Skin AI app.  This new tool was developed by dermatologists to measure the precise state of skin and observe any potential skin changes in live video. In consultation of a group of dermatologists, this technology uses augmented reality and is able to detect and quantify minute changes in the skin, such as dark spots, discoloration, dryness, uneven skin, and rosacea.
It seems ‘phygital beauty’ is more than skin deep.