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FOREO on driving meaningful innovation in the beauty device market

Paul Peros and Rachel Arthur
Paul Peros and Rachel Arthur

Applying innovation to every aspect of a product or service is at the core of beauty device company FOREO’s strategy, from product design to discoverability and communications, says CEO Paul Peros on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

The Swedish brand entered the market in 2013, when the concept of beauty tech was just beginning to bubble up, and move from the professional salon space to selling at retail. What became clear however was that the company had to strive not only to introduce a new technology into the consumer’s home, but educate them on how that type of product would fit into the context of their lives.

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Peros explains that for the the at-home beauty device industry to become truly mainstream, brands need to not only offer efficacy at a professional level, but convenience that matches consumer expectations. He refers to this as “meaningful innovation”.

“You cannot ask a consumer to adopt a completely new practice or new product that stands in [their] way,” he explains. “You cannot have products where the consumer services the product rather than the other way around.”

The brand has engaged directly with consumers from the get-go, which initially started as a necessity as the company lacked the resources to play in the traditional media game. However, it quickly became a vital part of its business model, helping it reach the estimated $1 billion in worldwide sales that it’s expecting to hit in 2018.

“At the end of the day this has become an advantage that helped us not only reach the consumers but to engage with them and learn how to evolve our product range and our communications,” says Peros. At CES in January 2018, for instance, FOREO turned to Kickstarter to launch the UFO, a spaceship-like device that enables consumers to do a facemask in under 90 seconds (as opposed to the typical 15-20 minutes).

Foreo UFO
Foreo UFO

Unlike traditional campaigns on the crowdfunding platform that seek funding as their primary goal, the company saw this as a chance to spend months engaging with the consumer and gathering important feedback before bringing the product to launch.

Doing so has enabled it to drive engagement with a fiercely loyal beauty consumer, leading FOREO to experience exponential growth around the global. The five-year-old company now employs over 3.000 people in 20 offices worldwide.

Also in this episode, Peros talks further about the secret to developing products for a consumer that lives a much faster life, and just how the beauty industry is finally getting the innovation it deserves.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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data technology

Your future in-store loyalty program will be fed by facial recognition

Lolli & Pops is using facial recognition
Lolli & Pops is using facial recognition

Imagine this: You walk into your favorite store and the sales associate welcomes you by name. She or he lets you go about your business, but on-demand shares with you which of their latest products you would most likely be interested in.

Such recommendations, powered by artificial intelligence, are a very familiar experience online these days, but they’re also increasingly being worked towards in the brick and mortar retail world.

A multitude of different technologies lie at the heart of achieving this, but namely it’s a connection between CRM and machine learning, all with that layer of identification placed on top to deliver results for the specific customer in question.

Your mobile device usually plays a key role in making the ID part possible, but facial recognition is another such way.

Lolli & Pops, a candy store based in the US with roughly 50 doors, is one such retailer experimenting with this. A proof of concept called Mobica, which is powered by Intel, was on show at NRF’s Big Show in New York this week. Using computer vision, it’s a facial recognition loyalty scheme designed to drive VIP consumer engagement.

The opt-in experience (shoppers literally have to enrol their face to be a part of it), means anyone entering the store is recognized in real-time by an app the sales associates are using on their tablet devices. From there, they are able to tell the individual’s taste profile, know for instance if they’re allergic to peanuts, and be able to personally recommend great products to them via AI-enhanced analytics accordingly.

“It’s designed for their loyalty shopper, so about wanting to make them feel really special,” Stacey Shulman, Intel’s chief innovation officer for its Retail Solutions Division, told me. “Privacy isn’t an issue because they have such a strong relationship with their customers and are trusted by them already. It all starts with service and a connection to the customer.”

You can easily imagine the same VIP concept being applied at the likes of Sephora for beauty, or even in an apparel merchant.

Other facial recognition technology on show at NRF enabled special, personalized deals to surface on screens in real-time, demonstrated a restaurant that allows customers to pay by face, and also touted broader data collection opportunities around demographics and store-traffic patterns.

It was the customer service piece that felt particularly pertinent however. As Shulman explained: “Technology today needs to not be at the forefront. It needs to be the helper at the back. When done right, it enables people to get back to the customer and back to what’s important. That’s what we see here; it’s not about the facial recognition or the AI, it’s about the experience the customer then has. The differentiator between a brick and mortar store and Amazon today is customer service. We can’t compete on price and selection anymore, so we have to go back to service. If we don’t we will have a problem.”

The Lolli & Pops facial recognition initiative will roll out to stores in the coming weeks, according to Shulman.