Will Cell Phones Replace Beauty Consultants?


Shoppers have always recoiled from aggressive beauty advisers while browsing a beauty department. Yet, the minute they are ready to buy or want advice, customers expect that same consultant to be waiting at their feet. This challenge could soon be overcome thanks to several smartphone applications being used to serve as an on-the-spot beauty expert.

 

What is at stake is whether cell phones and Internet tutorials could eventually replace the need for a human in the beauty department. Already, retailers said shoppers today are more educated about products, often researching on the Web before buying. Procter & Gamble Co. is jumping on the trend with P&G Beauty & Grooming’s rolling out of My Beauty Adviser, new application for the iPhone and Android mobile platforms that encompasses Clairol, CoverGirl, Olay and Pantene.

 

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Developed by Densebrain Inc., My Beauty Adviser has a user-friendly interface designed to improve consumers’ shopping experience and simplify purchasing decisions. Upon launching the application, users can choose to explore products, complete a consultation or browse a free magazine, according to P&G. “Our customers continue to tell us they need guidance to decide which beauty products to use and how to use them to get the look that they want,” says Kevin Hochman, marketing director for Olay, Secret and Venus. “That’s why we created My Beauty Adviser — to help women find the best answers in a quick and fun way while on the go. We wanted to provide our customer with a free, interactive platform to help her make confident decisions about her beauty purchases and believe My Beauty Adviser accomplishes that goal.”

 

A browsing feature allows users to discover and learn about products while also reading and writing reviews. Densebrain founder Jonathan Glanz calls it a departure from the classic branded content feed that gives consumers truly relevant information. Voice and barcode scanning uses advanced technology for instant access to products and content within the application. Voice Scan will direct to magazine articles and help start the product search. Users can also utilize the barcode scanner while shopping in retail aisles to instantly access product reviews and related articles.

 

In addition, My Beauty Adviser acts as a personal, handheld consultant that tailors a beauty recommendation to meet an individual’s needs. Users can complete consultations by answering questions about their skin and hair type, concerns and desired results. Once the consultation is complete, results reveal customized recommendations for products.

 

Also, ModiFace has announced a virtual makeover technology for iPhones, iPads and Android phones. “This is the result of an intense two years of [research and development] that focused on developing the most advanced, user-friendly and realistic virtual makeover experience ever created,” ModiFace founder and chief executive officer Parham Aarabi said. “Not only have we made a major upgrade to our core technology, but we also have added numerous features that redefine the traditional virtual makeover experience, including the Shade Creator, so that brands-users can add their own shades; SkinMatch, so that the application recommends the best products for a user’s skin tone, and the instant-look gallery, which utilizes a user-uploaded photo as the model. These unique features, along with our facial recognition and store-finder capability, have resulted in an application that, true to its name, is the ultimate virtual makeover tool.”

 

Cell phone couponing has yet to catch on in a big way, although online services have. Consumers are flocking to YouTube for makeup tips. These applications may never replace the beauty of a hands-on beauty representative, but they do open up avenues for mass merchants without advisers to cash in on more cosmetics sales.

People, Places and Things

A few words with Mark Crames, ceo of Demeter Fragrance Library about international growth of the scents.

WWDBeautyNews:
You have amazing space at Duane Reade’s Look Boutique. Has that gotten you attention?
M.C.: That got us brand awareness and it snowballed. We have a major new partner in China and that’s a great market for us. We are finding we have a very interactive and visual way to engage shoppers. We’re adapting some things from the Look Boutique. We are also looking at Korea and then markets in Europe such as Paris and the United Kingdom.

WWDBeautyNews:
How about growth in the U.S.?
M.C.: Based on success in Duane Reade, we are also getting many more libraries in Walgreens stores. We are doing more with seasonal fragrances and we are doing a Christmas in July promotion. We are growing very fast!

What’s In Store

Veet and Facebook: Hair depilatory brand Veet has announced the launch of the 28 Days of Beautiful Facebook application, a way for consumers to engage with the brand, share beauty secrets, receive exclusive offers and discounts, and get insider tips from the Veet Smooth Patrol — a panel of three celebrity experts in the fields of fitness, fashion and beauty.

Bright Starts Introduces New Products with Marcia Cross: Bright Starts introduced its newest products and honored its 2011 Pink Power Super Mom at The New Museum in New York City. The exhibit-themed “Mother of Invention” event featured vignettes of antiquated baby toys and gear juxtaposed with Bright Starts’ contemporary products. Celebrity guest speaker Marcia Cross was in attendance to help present the 2011 Pink Power Super Mom with a generous donation toward her organization, The Get in Touch Foundation.

 

“As a busy working mother of twins and committed advocate for cancer awareness and cures, Marcia Cross embodies the type of parent who captures the passion and spirit of innovation that drives Bright Starts,” said Ryan Gunnigle, president and ceo of Bright Starts’ parent company, Kids II. “We are excited to have a mother like Marcia help us launch and highlight toys that lead the way in innovation, including Having a Ball, the newest and first Bright Starts collection for the six- to 36-month range.”

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