It’s fair to say that connected devices are fairly commonplace these days. Many people own a smart TV or use a smartwatch.

What we might be a little less familiar with is this type of technology being used in a different context – let’s say, while cleaning our teeth or brushing our hair for example.

With the recent launch of L’Oreal’s smart hairbrush, it is clear that the beauty industry is tapping into the internet of things (also known as IoT) and embracing connected devices.

Offering the chance to create an enhanced and interactive user experience, could this technology be the next big thing to infiltrate the beauty world?

Here’s a bit more on how brands are getting involved.

Development of augmented reality

Before we get onto connected devices, it’s worth noting that it’s not the first strand of new technology within the beauty industry. Augmented reality has also been a big trend, with the likes of Urban Decay creating their own AR apps to give consumers a chance to pre-test products.

L’Oreal Paris is another successful example. Its AR-powered beauty app, Make Up Genius, turns iPhone screens into mirrors to over-lay make-up onto the user’s face.

It might sound like a gimmick or Pokemon Go-style fad for beauty fans, but with over 11m downloads, the app has proven to be a great success.

By giving users the ability to try and test products before they buy, it offers greater value for consumers, solving common problems like finding the right shade or type of foundation. What’s more, it also gives consumers the opportunity to get expert or professional advice, resulting in a far more personal and customised experience all-round.

Due to the app's popularity, it’s been suggested that Make Up Genius technology could soon be integrated into household devices like bathroom mirrors.

This is where the internet of things comes into play, with the opportunity for beauty and healthcare brands to expand their presence into homes and everyday personal care routines.

With the arrival of L’Oreal’s smart brush – this concept doesn’t sound too farfetched.

Connectivity to enhance customer experiences

By using sensory technology, L’Oreal’s smart brush aims to help consumers improve their haircare. It tells users about specific texture or moisture and alerts them when they are brushing too hard.

Essentially, it is a connected device that is designed to give the user greater levels of control and expertise.

With a price point of around $200, the brush (which is due to launch mid-2017) certainly doesn't come cheap. The question is – will consumers be willing to pay just as much for a beauty device as they would a smartphone?

The beauty industry is clearly hoping that technology-minded consumers (and fans of luxury) will embrace it.

Of course, let’s not forget that electronic-based beauty has been overtaking manual processes for years, with everything from electric toothbrushes to face cleansing devices becoming more popular. Consequently, integrating connectivity-based features is an obvious next step.

As well as being electronically powered, devices like L’Oreal’s smart brush and Oral B’s connected toothbrush allow users to become well-informed – monitoring, tracking and measuring performance. It's not about necessity, but about making life easier.

Plus, with beauty and skincare industries overlapping with health and well-being, we’re likely to see more connected devices geared around lifestyle habits and trends, ranging from sun exposure to even things like stress and pollution.

Benefits for brands

For brands, the ability to gain insight into customer behaviour is undoubtedly the biggest benefit of connected devices.

IoT technology lets companies like L’Oreal track exactly what their customers are buying and, in turn, re-target them for future purchases.

Instant feedback and opinion is also another valuable aspect, which is harder and slower to gather from online purchases. Meanwhile, IoT creates a much richer and more memorable experience for consumers, ultimately proving the value of their shared data. 

In conclusion...

With the prediction that 25bn connected 'things' will be in use by 2020, many industries are beginning to realise the potential of IoT. 

For the beauty industry, it presents the next opportunity to revolutionise the everyday routines of consumers, ramping up personalisation and increasing value.

Related reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 11 January, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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