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As smartphone usage skyrockets in the Middle East, beauty brands are increasingly looking to attract consumers with apps and connected accessories that can offer more detailed product advice and information.
With more than half of the GCC’s population aged under 25, the so-called ‘millennials’ are an important consumer cohort for beauty brands. Like elsewhere in the world, they are increasingly turning to their smartphones for information on brands and products before, or during, the decision to purchase. Research by eMarketer estimates that 64.6% of the UAE’s population used a mobile phone in 2015, with the figure expected to rise to 74.6% by 2018. In Saudi Arabia, eMarketer predicts smartphone penetration will reach 59% by 2018, up from 54.2% in 2015.
Known as “connected beauty”, devices that can provide customers with an instant skin diagnosis in stores, smartphone apps that analyze a skincare routine over a period of time to determine its effectiveness or do virtual imaging to apply a make-up look to a selfie, are gaining traction.
Multinational beauty brands such as L’Oréal Paris have released apps such as the Make-Up Genius, which allows users to apply make-up looks to selfies, and teamed with Snapchat to create a filter that digitally imposes cat eye, foundation, blush and lip color. In retail, perfumery chain Sephora has developed the Skin IQ to help consumers in store choose right and Lip IQ as a tool to find the right lipstick shade.Indeed, augmented reality (AR) experiences are set to take virtual testing into the mainstream and revolutionize the path to purchase.
In addition, some analysts say that soon it will be a no-brainer to incorporate technology into a beauty routine, through smart connected mirrors and wearable technology. Such developments include L’Oréal-owned La Roche Posay’s wearable patches that connect to a device and monitor conditions such as UV light, pollution and moisture levels in the skin, or at home-devices that allow consumers to customize skincare products according to daily skin analysis.
All Eyes On New Technology
Dubai-based beauty distributor and marketing company Beauty Solutions Anna Gedman says more brands are looking to develop apps, devices, or both, that will help consumers engage and connect with the brand. “A lot of brands are in the development phase of this,” she says. “If brands aren’t thinking about this, they really should be. We’ve got a very young population in the GCC; in most countries 60% are under 25 and people in this demographic are on their smartphones, they are on social media and they want to connect instantly with the brands and with people they follow and like. It’s important and this region will definitely take advantage of it.”
UAE-based skincare brand Shiffa Dubai Skin head of sales and marketing Rajaa Rajab says Middle Eastern beauty customers are looking for enjoyable experiences such as having their skin analyzed in a retail environment. To this end, Shiffa has developed its own skin analysis technology for customers at the point of sale, which uses a microscope device connected to a computer.
What needs to be remembered though is the consumer benefit that the technology brings. It should make life easier for the consumer rather than be about using technology for technology’s sake or following a trend.