Home / Blog / Post-Pandemic Scenarios – XII – Digital Makeup

Post-Pandemic Scenarios – XII – Digital Makeup

The main cosmetic brands are racing to provide a digital make-up as a way to improve customer experience and drive sales. Image credit: Guerlain

Digital make-up

I remember I saw the first tiny steps towards digital make-up at a mall in Singapore over 20 years ago. If I am not mistaken it was an Oreal booth showcasing cosmetics and giving clients the opportunity to try them on a screen where a face of a girl/lady was displayed (you had the possibility of selecting among a good number of faces to take into account age and ethnicity). A palette of colours corresponding to different Oreal products (lipsticks, powder, eyelids, …)could be used by the client to “paint” the face and get an idea of the result. An assistant was available to help (and as I remember it made quite a difference on the result!). Anyhow, it was something new and there was a line to access the three stations at the booth.

Twenty years is an aeon when we talk of digital stuff. Today, digital make up is arising at the intersection of facial recognition, 3D mapping, augmented reality and artificial intelligence (plus a hige amount of processing power). Pour all these ingredient onto a high resolution -large- screen and you get a whole new slate of possibilities. Oh, don’t forget the plus that may derive from smartphones, social media and personal digital twin!

The FTI’s report points to digital make-up as an important revenue generator for this decade and notice how most cosmetic brands are scrambling to leverage on technology possibilities to increase customer experience (read “sales”).

Notice that we are getting used to digital cosmetics, or digital enhancement: all photos published on fashion magazines have been retouched (guaranteed) and these photos have drilled into our subconscious the desire to look as nice as those people …

Hence the booming of retouching functionality for photo post-processing apps (Luminar AI is making heavy use of AI to change the skin tone, remove blemish and crow’s feet, to slim your tummy and much more! -watch the clip) and we have started to see some of these enhancement function in video call software, like Zoom!

In this decade we can expect a booming business, and along with that a continuous improvement of retouching software for communications in the cyberspace. This evolution creates opportunities in the real space: you can digitally transform your look in the cyberspace and then a software will provide counsel to improve your look in the eal space as well. Clearly, you have much more latitude of intervention in the cyberspace but the cosmetic industry is there to help you improve your looks in the real space.

Another interesting prediction made in the FTI’s report is that cosmetic brands may generate revenues from digital make-ups. Whilst so far that has been used as a way to impreve marketing effectiveness and support on-line shopping, the growing use of the cyberspace as supplement to in.person meetings creates an opportunity for these brands to offer digital wares that can be used to improve the looks in the cyberspace. Clearly, companies like Zoom are also in that business space and for them the beautification may be a way to foster the uese of their connection tools so they might be offering that for free. Cosmetic brands will have to top their offer with something that could be perceived as significantly better.

The competition is on!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.