Technology, in particular artificial intelligence, is making it possible to fulfill beauty wishes like never before, Guive Balooch, global vice president of L’Oréal’s Tech Incubator, told AFP. He spoke in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual tech extravaganza in Las Vegas, where L’Oréal CEO Nicolas Hieronimus delivered the keynote speech.
How is L’Oréal embracing tech?
Guive Balooch – Our CEO being the CES keynote is such a proud moment for us, and even more for the beauty industry. It’s the first time a beauty company CEO is speaking at the largest tech stage in the world. It signals the essentiality of beauty in society today, and the critical role tech plays in elevating products and experiences.
We strive to build beauty products that are powered by tech, not tech products powered by beauty. We don’t look at the latest tech trend; we look at what people need and where the consumer tensions lie, and then create the tech to solve it.
We’ve had consumer tensions for so long — like the fact that 50 percent of women can’t find the right shade match of foundation — and those tensions are now being solved more easily, faster and with more delight. We are meeting people’s dreams and expectations more effectively, thanks to the marriage of tech and beauty.
Does artificial intelligence (AI) have a role to play?
Guive Balooch – In many of our innovations, the common denominator is artificial intelligence – which we have been using for years, guided by our sense of purpose. We have growing experience of deploying AI across our brands and divisions.
In 2018, L’Oréal acquired (augmented reality company) ModiFace, enabling us to create services like Virtual Try-On for hair, nail color and makeup try-ons. A great product example is Rouge Sur Mesure by Yves Saint Laurent Beauté. It’s an AI-powered, connected personalized lipstick device with augmented reality capabilities to virtually try-on and recommend lipstick shades from a selection of 4,000 shade options with a touch of a button and within seconds.
What do you expect from tech?
Guive Balooch – Tech isn’t about tech. It’s about guiding people to the right choices, and it’s about understanding your individual beauty based on data that will be powered by tech. We want to offer everyone the best of cosmetics innovation in terms of quality, efficacy and safety; and meeting the infinite diversity of beauty needs and desires all over the world. It is through technology that we can meet these needs.
For our newest innovation, AirLight Pro, we’re launching with hairstylist professionals first… With other tech products, we launch to consumers first. It varies project to project and brand to brand.
How do you decide on tech products?
Guive Balooch – Our end goal is to build great products for our consumers. Starting with tech trends can lead to gimmicky results, especially in such a saturated market. While we need technology, we also need deep consumer insights into how we can make beauty lives better… Our approach is to first start with the consumer need, then use the technology that’s been clinically tested for 100 percent accuracy, and through that, build products that are enhanced and augmented to bring experiences to a new level.
This process helps us constantly challenge ourselves to build on technology and develop great products and experiences that are completely unique. We also say no to projects that don’t deliver experiences that go above and beyond what’s already existing in the marketplace.