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Adaptable Allure

By: Valerie Jacobs
Posted: February 29, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The technology is also being deployed for criminal profiling use within militaries, airports and localized police initiatives. Heralded by The New York Times as the “democratizing of surveillance,” marketers are also getting more facially savvy, using “smart signs” that detect the demographics and attention level of passersby to deliver personalized advertising messages.

The technology will continue to rapidly evolve into new areas, enabling companies, governments and the general public to leverage it for their own uses. Within the beauty industry, the technology is already taking hold. On many beauty brand websites and online communities, users can upload photos of themselves to virtually experiment with cosmetics, hair color and styles, even skin tone. This technology is transformational, ever evolving into a more personalized experience with additional trend-led implications in the beauty category.

Building Niche Communities

In Viewpoint Magazine, futurist Richard Lamb explores a new consumer-generated marketing paradigm in which consumers, enabled by technology, are seeking out others with similar, often niche, interests and uniting in online microcommunities. According to Lamb, these microcommunities have a strong group identity with distinct guidelines for being “in” or “out.” Members influence other members and also influence a larger community of hundreds or thousands that monitor and try to copy the group’s behavior, interests, tastes and even appearances. This phenomena, which Lamb refers to as “twinning,” is a reaction against mass marketing and global homogeneity. Because identity can be reinforced by similarities within the group, brand endorsements carry more weight as trusted opinions in their broader network than typical peer recommendations or even brand communications.

As facial recognition technology becomes more mainstream, Internet users could likely seek to create niche communities based on similarities in physical features. Instead of using Google to search for those with similar names or interests, users will seek out facial, or even physical, doppelgängers. While Google owns the current technology, it has yet to make this feature available to consumers. Sites like findyourfacemate.com, a dating website that matches users based on the compatibility of their facial structures, connect to the concept of “twinning” in a beauty-oriented way.

As marketing influences the transition from a mass model to more of a one-to-one relationship, a similar evolution is also taking place in the origins of beauty ideas with microcommunities and consumer-owned brands emerging as the new influencers. As more people look to small groups to reaffirm their identity, achieving the standard beauty ideal of the niche group will be increasingly important.

Iconic Perfection

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