PARIS — L’Oréal is laying the groundwork for Web3 and the metaverse, as the beauty industry shape-shifts in phenomenal ways and accelerates toward an “on-chain” model.
“In any environment, [the transformation] is moving from digitalization to virtualization,” said Asmita Dubey, chief digital officer at L’Oréal, during her first sit-down interview since starting the job in April 2021.
Her conversation with WWD took place just days prior to the start of the Viva Technology conference, on Wednesday in Paris, where L’Oréal will be present.
Of the digital transformation, Dubey added: “It is moving from O plus O, which is already in the making, to O plus O plus O — which is offline plus online plus ‘on-chain’ — which is coming on the blockchain because of new technologies. So that is the shift which is happening from Web2 to Web3.”
Digital is not new to the world’s largest beauty maker, however.
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“For the last decade we have been digitalizing the beauty consumer journey, reinventing beauty experiences and elevating beauty journeys,” said Dubey.
That has entailed adopting new platforms and developing content for those, accelerating e-commerce and offering new digital services, including augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
“We bring all the science of the last 100 years and the technology there,” said Dubey.
Web2 involves the likes of livestreaming, image recognition, AI, voice, SaaS, cloud automation and data flows.
While “Web2 is still very much in deployment,” said Dubey, a new digital reality is permeating people’s lives. In 2021, numerous forces helped catapult humanity to the cusp of this different digital reality. These include new ways of socializing and working, tech empowerment and the advent of various cryptocurrencies.
“There is a tipping point in terms of creator economy, where the creators have been very platform-dependent, and they want their power back,” said Dubey.
Web3 encompasses virtual reality, AR, spatial computing, digital identity and virtual ownership.
Where once the web was closed and centralized, it will open up and become decentralized. Before, the web was driven by the smartphone’s look-down era, but now devices will be face-forward, according to Dubey.
“So imagine how the world is going to change,” she mused.
“On-chain” is how L’Oréal describes its vision of beauty in Web3.
“We believe firmly that beauty of the future will be physical, digital and virtual,” said Dubey. “So there will be different realities, and different utilities will decide what that reality is. The beauty journey will keep evolving.”
She foresees a massive creative energy coming with that.
L’Oréal is laying the foundations for on-chain beauty, with gaming serving as a strong springboard, not least since about 45 percent of the approximately 3 billion gamers are female.
“How do you engage with that community and where do we start getting new audiences from there?” said Dubey. “Then there is the question of new immersive experiences.”
L’Oréal’s on-chain beauty is to be rooted and embedded in the DNA of the group’s brands, so it is brand-mapping in the metaverse.
“From there, we are looking at everything with the prism of community, because beauty is so social in nature,” she said. “And if this is about a new creator economy, then what is that prism of community for an on-chain beauty?”
Concurrently, immersive beauty is moving from 2D to 3D, especially as computing technologies and 5G connectivity come in.
“We are focused on the new visual codes of beauty,” said Dubey. “How will beauty manifest itself?”
That could be as avatars with futuristic, cocreated looks or Web3 brand experiences. NYX Professional Makeup, for instance, which in Web2 has a huge following on Instagram, is becoming a “record label for creators” in Web3.
“It means more 3D creation, more immersive creation and more empowered status of those creators with owning their own creations, looks and beauty,” said Dubey.
Yves Saint Laurent Beauté will drop some social tokens for visitors at VivaTech.
Dubey called Mugler a metaverse-native brand, with its tag line, “The real world just isn’t enough.”
“They will do activities around play-to-earn, bring in collectibles and a future vision of beauty,” she said. “And then they will loyalize their consumers within that.
“It’s all about testing, learning and playing,” added Dubey, of activations in the web’s next generation, some of which will be shown at VivaTech.
Building ecosystems and partnerships are key to this. That could be with big tech as well as new Web3 players, such as OpenSea, the leading NFT marketplace. L’Oréal has also partnered with startups including Animaze and Impact+. More long-standing partners BreezoMeter and SleepScore Lab will be at VivaTech, too.
“These kinds of new collaborations are really something we feel is going to be the future of how we can provide our consumers data that can help them not just understand their wrinkles and pores, but from the inside out understand how they can build programs for their skin health for the future,” said Guive Balooch, head of the L’Oréal tech incubator, in a separate interview.
For VivaTech, L’Oréal’s digital and tech teams collaborated “to serve the purpose of understanding the future of beauty, O to O to O,” he said. “We are building a strong story around online and offline.”
To showcase the future of customization, there will be, for instance, YSL Beauté’s Rouge Sur Measure, AI-powered, at-home lip color personalization technology.
“We started adding new features to Perso, where you can now share trends,” said Balooch. “It’s almost a way of creating micro-influencing — even if it’s within [one’s] own community — to try to have real-time ability to make trends.”
L’Oréal is to exhibit at Vivatech the future of O plus O diagnostics, such as Lancôme Shade Finder for foundation matching. This can detect up to 22,500 unique skin shades and is available in-store and online in more than 30 countries. Balooch called it “inclusive technology.”
“We have a new version online, which is using a 360 [degree] video of your face,” he said. Lancôme is also showing its Skin Screen technology.
YSL Beauté’s Scent-Sation technology will be unveiled at VivaTech. The fruit of a collaboration with EMOTIV, it’s a headset that measures EEG, making the device able to track consumers’ emotional responses to scent families in order to make fragrance recommendations.
“We built an algorithm that has 95 percent accuracy,” said Balooch.
To illustrate the hair salon of the future powered by tech, there will be the L’Oréal Water Saver, which is to be rolled out to 15,000 locations this year and 40,000 in 2023.
“This should help us save on average over 1 billion liters of water per year in the salon and save electricity without eliminating the joy of washing and rinsing the hair,” he said.
Lancôme will spotlight its Absolue Dual-LED Youth Treatment, which uses patented LED light therapy to dispense the product formula.
Skinceuticals Pro 1:1, which gives people complimentary, private one-on-one video consultations with professional medical aestheticians, will be on display, as well.
“For us, the focus is to shape the future of beauty,” said Dubey.
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