Future of Beauty … customisation, devices and services … Inspired by Neutrogena’s Skin360, L’Oréal UV Sense and more

December 5, 2017

When P&G acquired Gillette for $57 billion a decade ago, everyone described it as a perfect marriage of the two leaders in women’s and men’s beauty products. Gillette could develop razors of women, with soaps to match, whilst P&G could surf across men’s new enthusiasm for grooming. The best mass market brands for everyone. Reshaping the world of beauty.

Disruptive beauty

10 years later, economic tsunamis and exponential technologies, and the resultant change in priorities and influences of consumers, have transformed the way in which brands win. In October 2016, Coty completed its merger with P&G Specialty Beauty Business, transforming Coty into one of the world’s leading beauty companies with the number one position in fragrances, and number two and three positions in salon hair and color cosmetics, respectively. Coty’s positioning is not about being big, but about being the challenger. It seeks to reignite its entrepreneurial heritage, to focus on the profit niches, and drive new innovation.

New start-ups can reach further and compete faster than the beauty giants still wedded to old ways of thinking – large size products, retail sales, and superficial imagery. Look at the cult success of Dollar Shave Club with 3 million subscribers, snapped up by Unilever for $1 billion. Millennial consumers have different priorities and new heroes. Look at the demand for Urban Decay amongst fast-grown-up teens. Brands are no longer built through advertising, but through the peer to peer influence of Instagrammers and vloggers. Look at Michelle Phan’s weekly Youtube audience, and her Ipsy brand.

Download The Beauty Economy Special Report 2017

Across the world, new ideas, new businesses and new solutions are transforming every market. “Gamechangers” think and act differently. They innovate every aspect of their brand and marketing. From Alibaba to Zipcars, Ashmei to Zidisha, Azuri and Zynga, a new generation of businesses are rising out of the maelstrom of economic and technological change across our world. These are just a few of the companies shaking up our world.

Gamechangers are disruptive and innovative, start-ups and corporates, in every sector and region, reshaping our world. They are more ambitious, with stretching vision and enlightened purpose. They see markets as kaleidoscopes of infinite possibilities, assembling and defining them to their advantage. They find their own space, then shape it in their own vision. Most of all they have great ideas. They outthink their competition, thinking bigger and different. They don’t believe in being slightly cheaper or slightly better. That is a short-term game of diminishing returns.

What does it take?

I asked 1000 business leaders to nominate the companies who they believe are creating the future in each different sector. The top 100 innovators are big and small, spread across every sector and continent, from Asia to the Americas, finance to fashion. And then we wanted to understand what they did differently.

They range from well known innovators like Amazon and Apple – the magic Dash buttons creating a direct link between consumer and brands, the ecosystems that go beyond devices – to new brands like Brazil’s Beauty’in fusing the world of food and cosmetics, or even Zespri redefining the obscure Chinese gooseberry as the superfood Kiwi fruit.

They capture their higher purpose in more inspiring brands that resonate with their target audiences at the right time and place, enabled by data and technology, but more through empathetic design and rich human experiences. They fuse digital and physical, global and local, ideas and networks. Social media drives reach and richness, whilst new business models make the possible profitable. They collaborate with customers, and partner with other business, connecting ideas and utilising their capabilities. They look beyond the sale to enable customers to achieve more, they care about their impact on people and the world, whilst being commercially successful too.

As they say in the GoogleX moonshot factory, in seeking to reinvent everything from cars to healthcare, “Why be 10% better, when you could be 10 times better?”


Who’s changing the game of beauty?

So who are the most interesting “gamechangers” of beauty? Not just creating new and distinctive products, but redefining the industry itself, what it’s called, why it matters, who to trust, where to start, and what matters most. They embrace the potential of new markets (like South Korea, the world’s fast growing beauty market), new consumers (like millennials, with their caring and collaborative mindset), new business models (subscription not transactional, gifting not functional), new channels, new devices, new price points, new experiences, and more …

Neutrogena Skin360

Neutrogena’s new Skin360 app and SkinScanner attachment for the iPhone is developed in collaboration with start-up FitSkin. The device uses the phone’s camera combined with sensors and 30x magnification to capture data about a user’s skin.

L’Oréal UV Sense

At less than 2mm thick and only 9mm wide, the UV Sense is designed to be worn on the thumbnail and can store three months of data. Using NFC technology, the data is transmitted to an accompanying smartphone app, which tracks UV exposure, measures specific activities and makes recommendations on when to take shade or apply sun protection. The sensor was designed in partnership with Yves Béhar’s Fuseproject studio, which worked to create a wearable that wasn’t a distraction but integrated into the body. ‘We didn’t want you to think of it as a product, but rather as an ornament,’ says Béhar. ‘We want it to be something that you want to wear, that you don’t have to think about charging or where it is – it accompanies you throughout your day.’

Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab 

Henkel Beauty Care and its leading salon brand Schwarzkopf Professional are pioneering the salon of the future with the Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab – a digital ecosystem for quantifying and customizing the hair care experience, propelling hair salons into the digital age. This technology takes the guess work out of which products and services are best for each client’s hair by analyzing hair at the molecular level, empowering the consultation process with data-driven insights and producing on-demand, personalized care solutions.


HiMirror ‘s smart mirror assesses a person’s skin quality, and is now equipped with Alexa, so that users can ask for information as they do their make-up or easily order products through Amazon. By taking a makeup-free photo, HiMirror detects dark or red spots, under eye circles, wrinkles, pores, fine lines and other imperfections.

Waft, customised fragrances direct to you

Not all perfumes are created equally. Waft’s revolutionary method of selecting fragrance by personality and mood is disrupting the industry. Our exclusive layering method allows you to do just that by empowering you to mix and match different custom fragrances. Our product is world-class with only the finest, quality ingredients uniquely tailored to deliver Personalised Perfume: For her. For him. For you

Stowaway, the black dress of beauty

Selling mini-sized lipsticks, blushes and foundations direct to consumers. Chelsa Crowley and her co-founder Julie Fredrickson started the company after realizing they never used up all their makeup before it expired. Crowley had an extensive background in the cosmetics industry working for Mac and Bobbi Brown and decided to do something about her dilemma.

Scent Trunk, fragrance matching at home

Scent Trunk designs original fragrances for you based on a guided process of discovery. It starts with a Scent Test. The Scent Test is meant to be fun and shared with friends. Take time to sample the palette of our six core scents. Tell us what you like, and what you don’t. We’ll send you an original fragrance based on your response.  A 30-day supply of your custom fragrance will cost $11.99 per month, free shipping, if you decide to opt in.

Onomie Beauty, direct to you

Onomie combine advanced skincare and modern makeup to create highly efficacious beauty products that simplify your life. We cut out the middleman and sell directly to customers via our website to offer the best price on superior quality luxury skincare and makeup hybrids.

Glossier, cosmetics for the Instagram generation

“Women today have different needs than we have had in the past, but beauty companies haven’t necessarily been the most reactive to that,” says Emily Weiss who launched the skincare and cosmetics brand in 2014. “We wanted to create a very democratic movement, and the channels most fitting that goal were direct, digital ones.”

Read the full Gamechangers case study of Glossier


Tatcha Skincare … beauty inspired by the Japanese Geisha

Read more about Tatcha and how founder Vicky Tsai turned a Geisha secret into a cosmetics innovation, In fact Tsai’s business card reads “chief treasure hunter”. See the new Gamechangers Live Case Study.

Adorn … 3d printing foundation pen

Find out more about Adorn, the world’s first 3d printing foundation pen, that creates personalised foundation to match your skin.

Blow.LTD … the “Uber of beauty” on demand to you

Read more about Blow.LTD and how they secured funding from the likes of Unilever to turn their salon experience into “the Uber of beauty” that comes to you.

Zenta by Vinaya … first think human, then think tech

Zenta is the wearable tech fashion range from Kate Unsworth, the 28 year old artist and mathematician who believes in transforming people’s inner wellbeing through human-centred tech. See the new Gamechangers Live Case Study.

MatchCo … customised cosmetics from your phone

MatchCo is one of the latest, and most interesting players in the customised beauty market, which has never really taken off. Yet. The Santa Monica-based business focuses on personalised foundations through a phone-based app.

Isamaya French … fusing art and fashion 

Read more about Isamaya Ffrench the young London make-up artist who fuses fashion and art in the most striking, bizarre and creative styles. See the new Gamechangers Live Case Study.

Hourglass focus on feminists

California cosmetics brand Hourglass just launched Girl Lip Stylo, an empowerment-infused line of feminist lip shades.  Girl Lip Stylo is a lipstick, liner and balm hybrid that not only fulfils a multitude of makeup needs but does so in a hydrating, lightweight feeling kind of way, with hues including vivid fuschia ‘Leader’, brick red ‘Visionary’ and soft rose ‘Inventor’, to name but a few of the positive cosmetic role models on offer.

Bevel shave system for black hair

Bevel, by Walker & Company, provides premium grooming products & services, designed to help reduce razor bumps & skin irritation. While most guys are prone to razor bumps, black men are often the most susceptible. It’s estimated that eight out of 10 males with razor bumps are black. This is because curly hair is more likely to become ingrown hair.

Nailbot is smartphone nail printer

The Nailbot is powered by Preemadonna, a community of dynamic technologists inspiring creativity and self expression with their inventions. The Nailbot is the Smartphone Nail Art Printer. It prints custom instant nail art directly on your fingernails in 5 seconds!

How to get started?

Whilst innovations from La Prairie’s skin caviar to Dove’s campaign for real beauty, have continued to drive the world of beauty brands, it is now time for a real “gamechanger” … to challenge the world order, to make consumers really think differently, and to create a disruptive and desirable new approach.

This is my challenge in the week ahead, working with some of the world’s most talented and ambitious beauty brands to explore new possibilities, new perspectives and new potential for brands and consumers. There is much inspiration from within the industry, learning from a new breed of entrepreneurs like Kate Unsworth and Isamaya French, but also learning from other game changers in other industries, like the 100 profiled in my new Gamechangers book, and the Live Case Studies online.

We’ll be using the new disruption tools from the Gamechangers Labs to stretch out thinking, and reframe our worldview, to question the fundamentals of what made brands successful in the past, and what will win in the future. And the InnoLab fast and facilitated innovation process to make new ideas happen.

Download the summary of my keynote Changing the Game of Beauty

More from the blog

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published.