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AI-Enhanced Beauty Hits Grocery Aisles at Sainsbury’s

Published January 3, 2023
Published January 3, 2023

Today, the global AI market is worth over $136B , with several brands rapidly adopting the technology to enhance consumer experiences. In the beauty context, AI has heavily impacted all different sectors of the industry, from more traditional elements such as haircare and skincare to emerging categories like the metaverse. Retail has also seen an influx of interest in AI, with companies such as JCPenney harnessing its powers to create an immersive in-store shopping experience. The latest retailer to explore AI's benefits to beauty is British supermarket Sainsbury's, which has teamed up with L'Oréal and Garnier to offer in-store skincare consultations.

AI integration is not new to the Sainsbury’s business. The retailer integrated a machine learning platform that classifies and structures data from multiple sources, surfacing new grocery trends and allowing them to adapt stores to their consumers' shopping behavior. However, this is the first time the supermarket giant has investigated what AI can offer regarding beauty.

ModiFace skin analysis devices will be installed in over 100 Sainsbury’s stores across the UK to offer personalized consultations, marking the first time the try-on technology has been used in a UK supermarket environment. The beauty brands are equipping Sainsbury's staff to take on the consultant role, training them as experts on L'Oréal Paris' Skin Genius and Garnier's Skin Coach tools.

For the new service, Sainsbury's will set up dedicated "skincare takeover spaces" to make the process as smooth as possible, encouraging everyday shoppers who previously may not have heard of such technology  to have a consultation. The ModiFace technology, which will be available on staff iPads, will scan customers' faces to measure the severity of skin concerns such as wrinkles, pores, pigmentation, firmness, and fine lines. The scan results will help create a tailor-made skincare routine based on the consumer's skin type and requirements.

"Our beauty experts play an important role in supporting customers shopping our beauty ranges in our stores, and this fantastic technology will mean they can provide an even more tailored and personal service," says Sophie Hogg, Category Director―Health and Beauty at Sainsbury's. "The combination of face-to-face interaction and technology really sets us apart from others and gives customers another compelling reason to stop by the beauty aisle when doing their grocery shop," she added.

"More than ever, we know that our consumers want to be sure they are making the right choices when spending their money, and the increased interest in their skin health and skincare needs is no exception."
By Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer, L'Oréal UK and Ireland

The choice to offer such resources in-store is a wise one from Sainsbury's as 33% of consumers state that skincare has been the highest prioritized self-care element of their health and wellness routines since the pandemic began. In addition,  the global skincare market is expected to increase by 5.9% every year and is predicted to be worth $145.82B by 2028, which confirms that the retailer chose the correct time to invest in this area. The personalization element of  consultations is another factor that sets up the supermarket chain  for success, because 80% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop with companies that offer personalized experiences.

At a time when 87% of adults have reported an increase in the cost of living, the technology will make shopping for products increasingly more cost-effective and  ensure customers spend money on the right products for their personal needs. The spaces will also improve the quality of specific demographic experiences with skincare, such as the 40% of British males who  struggle to know which products are right for them and will equip these individuals with significantly more straightforward yet effective routines.

"More than ever, we know that our consumers want to be sure they are making the right choices when spending their money, and the increased interest in their skin health and skincare needs is no exception," says Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer at L'Oréal UK and Ireland. "L'Oréal Groupe's acquisition of ModiFace in 2018 is a key enabler for our beauty tech and innovation, allowing us to develop services that help create the future of beauty, which means customers can shop for tailored skincare in the supermarket aisles for the first time," he concludes.

As tech-enabled experiences continue to innovate retail aisles, The L'Oréal Group and Sainsbury's will stand out among competitors in an industry where everyone wants to take the top spot. The option to receive personalized beauty consultations when popping into the store for groceries is sure to inspire other brands and retailers to innovate the grocery aisles. As products and recommendations become more accessible, self-care, personalization, and AI are set to bring positive changes to beauty. Watch this skincare space.


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