By Kate Morris, Founder

As we start a new year, I found myself thinking about how very different the digital beauty landscape is, compared to my inauspicious beginnings in a Melbourne garage in 1999.

When I started, there was no broadband, no smartphones, no YouTube or Facebook. Many people still didn’t have an email address. So much has changed – but the funny thing is, so much has stayed the same in terms of the core drivers for beauty consumers. New technologies might change the way retail is delivered, but they haven’t changed the drivers of what customers really want.

“Make my life easier”

Nobody likes having to wait in line, or having to spend their valuable lunch break or leisure time completing routine purchases. Convenience has always mattered to customers. Technology has offered a big opportunity for improvements in convenience, via smartphones that enable us to shop anywhere and anytime. There’s still room for improvement in convenience; nobody’s quite yet solved the challenge of delivering to customers when they’re not home, so drones might make things interesting.

“Be honest with me”

Before the digital age, beauty shoppers had limited options in terms of what information was available to help them make decisions. They didn’t trust advertising, so books like Paula Begoun’s “Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me” became popular tools to decipher a confusing world of brands and marketing-speak.

Then along came social media, online reviews and YouTube – now the key driving force in a customer’s decision-making journey. They want to see products in action (without Photoshop), and they want to know whether a product really does what it says before forking out their cash.

We can expect to see more technologies that help customers cut through advertising to find the perfect product to target their concerns; whether it be augmented reality that allows a virtual try-on of products, or AI-driven product recommendations.

“I want value for money”

While some customers are more price-sensitive than others, all customers like to feel they’ve received value for their money. In the digital age, customers can compare prices and shop globally, and Australian consumers have become very resistant to the ‘Australia tax’ that sees them paying an unreasonable price premium.

We’ve already started to see the blurring of the lines between premium and mass price-points, thanks to social media buzz. In the digital world, place of purchase becomes much less relevant, so premium brands can’t just rely on their luxurious department-store locations to justify a higher price. In 2018 we expect to see even more customers cherry-picking the hottest products across both mass and prestige. It’s the new beauty democracy.

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