Vasiliki Petrou, executive vice president of Unilever Prestige, spoke to a “new era of human engagement” at the Summit. She noted that while digital has become a driving force for consumers, “the most valuable asset we have in the beauty industry today is human touch.”

Petrou implored the beauty industry to “curate and deliver a personal, emotional connection to beauty.”

“It’s important that we curate experiential touch points both online and in store, where consumers can be physically engaged and actually immersed — we need to create a new human engagement that touches our consumer with the emotional and sensorial benefits [of beauty products.]”

Ironically it is the digitally native Millennial generation — who else? — that is driving all this need for human interaction. “Millennials are the most diverse, progressive and socially minded generation to date — they are wired to support community,” said Petrou, who ticked off social media networks and dating and friendship apps as examples of Millennials using digital to connect with others rather than isolate themselves.

And with all this technology available, Petrou said, Millennials are “craving the real.”

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The skin-care brands in Unilever’s prestige portfolio have been hard at work on IRL experiences.

Petrou referenced Murad’s EyesUp campaign, which encourages people to disconnect with technology by taking breaks from technology to connect with others. The brand also has a platform called Connected Beauty, with promotes the idea of beauty as connected with the whole self.

She also noted Dermalogica, which recently introduced in Ulta Beauty its Face Fit ten-minute facial, based off the brand’s longer facial treatments. “That’s at the core of the Dermalogica brand,” said Petrou. “We train over 100,000 therapists globally.”

Petrou also ticked off Kate Somerville’s #KateCan campaign, another example from Unilever’s prestige portfolio. The #KateCan campaign aims to approach fighting skin concerns with an uplifting, positive approach.

But despite all this human connection, Petrou said digital is still the driver.

“Technology is there to enable [human connection],” said Petrou. “The world is going more digital but people who will be able to create the real bond with the consumer will leverage technology to create that bond — whether it’s to deliver a personalized consultation or a face map, offer personalized advice or help her curate in a complex world.”

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