“For beauty tech success, get consumer insight right,” says R&D and technology development specialist Sagentia

December 10, 2019

A survey of British adults indicates that beauty tech could resolve some of the most complex requirements of digital age consumers, but reliable insight into what they really want will be critical.

Science Group companies Sagentia and Leatherhead Food Research teamed up to explore attitudes towards personal care and beauty products. The research involved a qualitative study of 45 men and women, followed by a nationally representative online survey of 2,029 people.

Participants were asked about various factors, from value for money to ethics and sustainability as well as beauty tech. When it came to beauty tech, attitudes varied significantly according to gender and age.

The quantitative study indicates that 38% of people would be ‘comfortable’ using a device or app to determine which product is best suited to their needs (e.g. by assessing skin tone or hair texture). This rose to 56% for younger adults aged 18-24, and decreased sequentially with age, hitting a low of 23% for over 55s.

Regarding product effectiveness, almost half of respondents (49%) said they’d like an accurate measure of how their skin or hair has improved after using a product. When asked if they’d be likely to use a smartphone app or device to achieve this in the next 12 months, 25% agreed overall. This rose to 30% of all women and 39% for the 18-24 age group, falling to 18% for over 55s.

Emma Gubisch, Head of Consumer & Sensory Insight at Leatherhead, who facilitated the focus groups, says: “Our findings reveal that there is an appetite for beauty tech that helps people choose the most appropriate product, and tell whether it has worked. Some of the female focus group participants got quite excited about the idea of pick-and-mix solutions that would enable them to personalise products in a cost-effective way.”

In a bid to help personal care and beauty brands align beauty tech innovation goals with consumer insight, Sagentia and Leatherhead have launched a free whitepaper Beauty Tech Unboxed. It summarises key findings from the study and makes strategic recommendations on how to focus research and development activity.

Sagentia’s Matt Herd has worked on several beauty tech innovations. He believes the best approach is to define what the consumer audience wants, and work backwards from there.

“It’s so easy to get swept along with the latest technologies and build products around them, but success can be hit or miss,” he explains. “A more effective approach is to look at what consumers want, consider how this can be achieved at a physiological level, then turn to technology to see if it can improve the end result or overall consumer experience. Ultimately people want products that work and make them feel good about themselves, so this has to be the guiding principle of beauty tech innovation.”

Leatherhead operates predominantly in the food and beverage sector, but also specialises in consumer insight for wider sectors, such as personal care and beauty. Sister company Sagentia is a product and technology development consultancy which has worked with brands including Unilever and Nu Skin.

Beauty Tech Unboxed is available for download here.

About Science Group

Science Group offers independent advisory and leading-edge product development services focused on science and technology initiatives. Its specialist companies Sagentia, Oakland Innovation, OTM Consulting, Leatherhead Food Research, TSG Consulting and Frontier Smart Technologies collaborate closely with their clients in key vertical markets to deliver clear returns on technology and R&D investments.