Connected mascara? L'Oreal explores the Internet of Things

L'Oreal is exploring the idea of smart make-up and conducting internal development work on the Internet of Things.

L'Oreal: Cara Delavingne for YSL
L'Oreal: Cara Delavingne for YSL

The technology could allow the beauty company to give connectivity to "dumb" objects like lipstick or mascara, giving it a new way to track customers.

The company’s head of digital and media for Australia and New Zealand, Christophe Emery, said marketing via connected make-up could become as vital as on mobile.

You can imagine there’s a great opportunity to have make-up as connected devices as well, creating a territory for ongoing customer engagement.

Speaking to Marketing during the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Emery said: "There is a lot of development happening internally.

"There is definitely a big focus. These products, for most consumers, are in their bags every day and are almost as personal as their mobile device.

"You can imagine there’s a great opportunity to have them as connected devices as well, creating a territory for ongoing customer engagement.

"At the moment, we are primarily leveraging mobile devices to create that connection, but we could do it with our own products too."

Emery declined to go into detail on L’Oreal’s research, but said the firm would be making future announcements.

L’Oreal is also exploring 3D-printed skin, as a way to test its products without resorting to animal testing. Called Episkin, the synthetic flesh is produced in collaboration with San Diego bio-printing company Organavo.

Emery said: "The reality is that L’Oreal is very careful with animal testing, but [we] have a history as well. To make a claim that you don’t test on animals, you need products that have no ingredients that have ever been tested on animals.

"The reality is that many years ago, most products were tested on animals and even today, products are still using those ingredients."

He added: "It’s hard to make that claim. It’s an issue that’s close to the heart of the business."

Brands sign up for the internet of things

A growing number of FMCG brands are exploring the Internet of Things, since connected objects offer a way for marketers to keep talking to customers after purchase.

Pernod Ricard told Marketing earlier this year that the Absolut Vodka brand was developing connected bottles as a way to move beyond "static pieces of glass".

But the man who coined the ‘internet of things’ phrase, Kevin Ashton, is a former P&G marketer and has warned brands not to  misuse the technology.

He told Marketing earlier this year: "Selling [information] back or advertising – these are dumb gut reactions some people in marketing have.

"I could put a sensor in a shoe, then sell you an app that shows how many steps you take.

"That’s not as interesting as understanding how people wear your shoes, and how you can make them better so that next time people like them even more."

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