It’s time for a more advanced innovation and marketing strategy than social selling or skincare personalization based on a quiz. We’re ready for biohacking and AI-powered Precision Skin Health. The recent addition of facial imaging as a diagnostic was a small step in the right direction, but now we can achieve a holistic understanding of an individual's unique biology, lifestyle, and environment through multiple synergistic diagnostics.
Personalization on Social Shopping Networks and Influencer Recommendations Can Be Misleading
Influencer marketing has already been criticized for a lack of authenticity (“sponcon”) since influencers are not always transparent about being paid to recommend products. Social selling platforms focus on more “authentic” selling, but the influencers still lack expertise. According to Millie Kendall, CEO of the British Beauty Council, creators should become more informed about beauty products; many don’t know better and may unintentionally share wrong information or advice that can be harmful. While popular social selling platforms like Flip, and Supergreat and influencer marketing on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok can be effective for fashion and color cosmetics, they have limitations for biologically driven categories such as skincare, haircare, and supplements.
Even a close friend who knows your skin sensitivities, lifestyle, and environment would struggle to recommend products successfully given the ever-growing universe of products, ingredients, and clinical research. A better way to instill confidence in consumer purchases, increase engagement with an elevated experience, increase conversion, and achieve more accurate personalization is with an AI-powered Precision Skin Health approach that takes into consideration every individual’s unique biology, lifestyle, and environment. This is also a more sustainable and inclusive approach.
A Solo Diagnostic Isn’t Good Enough
The most popular diagnostic for skincare personalization is facial imaging. As a solo diagnostic, facial imaging works well for the personalization of color cosmetics, since the goal is shade matching of foundation or allowing a consumer to virtually try on lipstick or eye shadow. While facial imaging identifies some skin-aging traits such as dryness and hyperpigmentation, it doesn’t explain the reason for these skin traits. If an individual has dry, itchy, patchy skin, you need to understand the underlying cause to effectively address it. The dryness could be due to stress, an autoimmune disease, or contact dermatitis, for example.
The New Paradigm: AI-Powered Precision Skin Health
To achieve an accurate assessment and personalize the best over-the-counter skincare products, prescription skincare products, supplements, and medspa treatments, a skin-deep analysis won’t cut it. Taking a cue from precision medicine, we must use multiple diagnostics and data sources such as:
Precision skincare and treatments shouldn’t be grouped with makeup, beauty, or wellness. Sure, the right skincare can make you feel beautiful. However, when skincare is science-based and involves multiple diagnostics, it becomes “skin health.” Particularly for people 35 years old and above, skin health has more in common with longevity and the science of aging rather than makeup and fragrance, which are personalized based on seasons, mood, trends, and style/scent preferences. Diagnostics like blood tests that yield insights about hormones, vitamins and nutrient deficiencies, proteins, and allergies can drastically change product recommendations and impact efficacy. When skincare personalization incorporates many data sources and applies complex healthcare lenses like dermatology, hematology, and genomics, it has evolved into a new realm—Precision Skin Health.
Six Trends that Support the Movement toward Biohacking and Precision Skin Health:
1. Investment in AI Personalization and the Recommendation Engine Market Will Surge to $15.75B by 2031
According to Bolt’s Future of Beauty Ecommerce Report, we are experiencing an important shift toward inclusion. This change is amplified by AI/AR beauty tech, which allows merchants to capture data and create hyper-personalized online experiences that reflect the identities of individual consumers. Shoppers who see themselves represented accurately have a greater affinity towards those brands. There is nothing more inclusive than analyzing each consumer’s biology, lifestyle, and environment with multiple diagnostics. Inclusion and accuracy are best achieved with a Precision Skin Health approach rather than simpler personalization.
2. Teledermatology Is Expected to Be a $67.43B Market by 2030
Teledermatology has rapidly grown in recent years, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage of dermatologists, the convenience, and the reduced cost for patients without insurance. Precision Skin Health can be integrated into teledermatology to make it more efficient.
3. The Wearable Technology Market Is Projected to Be Worth $386B by 2030
Wearable tech is used for tracking and biohacking health (specifically sleep, stress, fitness, and periods/fertility). The wearable tech boom supports the movement of Precision Skin Health because it allows consumers/patients to optimize another aspect of their health.
4. The Global Consumer Genomics Market Size Is Poised to Be Worth $17.51B by 2032
While some may discount the value of DNA data, it is useful for educating consumers/patients about what traits they are predisposed to, the likelihood of the traits being expressed, what triggers the traits to be expressed, and how to best manage them.
5. Dermatologists Are Trending, Fact-Checking, and Disrupting the Skincare Industry
Science-based brands and dermatologist brands are trending, but simply slapping an MD-approved label on a product isn’t enough to win consumer approval. An increased consumer desire for fact-checking from credible experts supports the movement toward Precision Skin Health.
6. The Longevity Medicine Market Is Projected to Reach $44.2B by 2030
Understanding how the skin ages and optimizing skin health is a part of longevity medicine. Many skin issues are the result of aging, such as chronic inflammation, stem cell exertion, and the gradual loss of skin elasticity, which leads to the phenomenon of sagging. According to the National Library of Medicine, “the ‘successful aging’ paradigm, focuses on health and active participation in life, counters traditional conceptualizations of aging as a time of disease and is increasingly equated with minimizing age signs on the skin, face, and body.”
The Opportunity and the Focus on Accuracy
Data from Bolt showed, “In order for AI to curate a better shopper experience or buying process, you have to know who the shopper is. AI has limited benefits without that information—you can 'generate' all you want, but the shopper is still the cornerstone of a transaction.” For skincare, we need a Precision Skin Health approach with zero-party data, which is data intentionally shared by a consumer/patient from multiple diagnostics.
A Precision Skin Health cloud platform enables more than the personalization of skincare products. The value is twofold: 1) we can educate the consumer/patient on their skin issues and how they are aging, and 2) we can personalize the entire skincare and skin health ecosystem journey for the consumer/patient by recommending the best skincare and haircare OTC and Rx products, supplements, and medspa treatments while also assisting on dermatology assessments. Moreover, we can offer a level of accuracy that is unparalleled and a solution for sustainability as well as inclusion, in addition to increased conversion, order size, and retention.
A multi-strategy approach doesn’t work for a Precision Skin Health company. It’s important to pick a core competency—either you’re 1) a Precision Skin Health SaaS (software as a service) company, or 2) a skincare brand with customized or personalized products. It will be hard for brands creating and marketing proprietary skincare products to build out a Precision Skin Health platform given the level of technology (hyperspectral imaging, deep learning, machine learning, and generative AI) involved, the multiple sciences involved, multiple diagnostics, and vast amounts of data. Claiming one-in-a-million or even one-in-a-trillion formulations for skincare or haircare is clearly a marketing gimmick, especially when companies turn around and start selling a very limited version of customization at retailers like Target or Sephora.com. The goal isn’t to have the highest number of conceivable formulations; it is to quickly know which formulas are likely to work for a given individual. Consider new ingredients: R&D for new skincare ingredients alone is spread across hundreds of companies and billions of dollars, and even if you are lucky enough to be one of those companies, implementing one change takes lots of money and months of careful consideration and effort.
Personalization isn’t new anymore, and soon consumers will demand accuracy and results. Unlike color cosmetics, which is just about facial imaging and mapping for virtual try-on, you can’t ignore the science and, more specifically, the health component for skincare personalization. Precision medicine doesn’t just rely on one diagnostic or just a quiz. It’s time we move past that in skincare too.
We can reinvent retailers, brands, and medspas with an integrative Precision Skin Health ecosystem. Long term, its proprietary data is the bridge that extends into healthcare. A cloud Precision Skin Health platform can help diagnose, treat, and prevent with holistic healthcare assessments.
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