I might be aging myself here, but I can clearly remember my first trip to a certain Bloomingdale’s counter where a prestige brand custom mixed makeup products. It was the first foundation I ever purchased, and I recall watching the product being mixed on a white slab of stone right in front of me. I was transfixed. But while custom foundations have always had a presence in prestige beauty, custom skincare has seen muddy waters.
On any given trip to a department store or specialty beauty retailer, you might see several signs and displays that goad you with “Customized for You” in any denomination of words. Most of the time, brands are talking about customized routines; however, in the past few years, we’ve seen brands emerge that tout custom products as the basis of their product lineup.
Several brands in the past few years have launched “custom” serums. These products are all strikingly similar in that they all have a base with actives that are encapsulated to maintain freshness, and are added at the time of application. But is this truly customized, or is this mass customization?
How the consumer chooses to mix the serums is certainly custom, but the actual serum is mass made to make the process on the manufacturing end easier. Other industries have seen this sort of mass customization long before beauty has. In 2012, for example, Nike launched NIKEiD on their website. NIKEiD allows consumers to personalize their sneakers through a selection of colors, fabrics, and designs. Since debuting in 2012, Nike has expanded this service to 102 NIKEiD studios throughout several countries.
With natural and clinical brands driving the majority of the growth in skincare, this hyper-focus on ingredients and the uniqueness of customization is certainly hitting a nerve. In the past, the profitability of these types of products were not feasible, but with the success of makeup customization apps and a new model that allows customization on a wider scale, customization just may be here to stay.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / U.S. Prestige Beauty, Department Store/Specialty Brick & Mortar
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