An explosion of beauty apps in 2014 presents a new way to engage with beauty shoppers and increase experimentation with colours as well as brand loyalty. However the digitalisation of the shopping process may threaten value sales as the sensory aspect of the shopping experience is reduced.

Mintel’s Digital Trends Summer – UK, 2014 report found the proportion of UK adults owning a smartphone reached 72% in April 2014, up from 67% in 2013. Portable technology is of increasing importance to consumers and as a result brands in all markets are developing ways or interacting with consumers through these platforms.

Mintel’s trend Life Hacking explores how consumers are increasingly stressed and pressed for time, leading them to maximise every spare minute. Techniques to save even just a few minutes are therefore becoming commonplace within personal technology.

The rise in personal data collection and analysis allows us to make smarter and faster decisions and the health and beauty markets are being revolutionised by new tools allowing consumers to analyse and make their own diagnosis.

Consumers are interested in the idea of using technology to help with their shopping experience, as Mintel research shows a quarter of lip, eye and/or nail make-up users are interested in using a device to virtually try on products in-store (eg a digital mirror to test a lipstick shade on an image of themselves.) This rises to 30% amongst 16-24-year-olds.

As a result of this interest, a number of retailers including Burberry Beauty and Superdrug have devised the in-store ability to digitally test products on a range of skin tones as well as real-time images of shopper’s faces.

Virtually advanced are L’Oreal, whose MakeUp Genius app works by using 3-D film-imagery technology to capture facial points using the camera, as well as one hundred expressions and head movements to allow the make-up to move as the face does. We take a closer look at how apps are tapping into the customisation trend here.

Other notable beauty app launches include inspiration apps, such as Beauty Spotter and Sephora’s Beauty Board, which allow users to share, rate and comment on pictures. These apps allow users to explore new looks on real women as opposed to marketing and promotional images of models. Apps are also now enabling consumers to make smart decisions about their purchases. Think Dirty and Skin Deep, for example, provide smartphone users with the ability to scan their personal care products and find information on their chemical content.

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