GCI Magazine

Segments Sponsored by

Email This Item!
Increase Text Size

Pulsing With Potential

By: Sara Mason
Posted: August 26, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

As the digital age collides with a DIY mentality, the at-home beauty devices market is pulsing with potential. Opportunities abound for expanding offerings and marketing products in a new way that capitalizes on the trend as consumers bring home everything from acne-treating blue light therapy to sonic cleansing and wrinkle-eliminating microcurrents.

Under Promise, Over Deliver

Clarisonic is one of the forerunners in skin cleansing systems, and has seen increased distribution and advertising thanks to its acquisition by L’Oréal in late 2011. The key to the brand’s staying power is its ability to fit into the consumer’s daily routine without overly complicating that routine, as well as providing benefits the consumer can see.

“We created Clarisonic to improve on facial cleansing—to take something that is a boring mechanical process and make it dynamic and fun to do,” explains Robb Akridge, co-founder and vice president of clinical affairs for the brand. The Clarisonic is successful because it provides an immediate improvement on the skin—e.g. softer and smoother. “It is also convenient and powerful, yet gentle so that it can be used every day for optimal results,” Akridge continued.

Consumer perspective of the success of beauty devices is subjective. However, in order for a user to be completely satisfied, there needs to be both an immediate visible improvement effect and a longer term cumulative effect. Brands cite deeper hydration and a “glow” from improved circulation as benefits that can be seen immediately, whereas plumping and firming of the skin would occur due to a more gradual increase in collagen and other proteins in the skin over time, as well as the presence of water-binding technology such as hyaluronic acid.

Consumers are always looking for the next best product. As a device manufacturer, the R&D team must listen to the consumer while at the same time giving her more than what she was expecting. “That is one of the reasons the Clarisonic cleansing system is so successful: we under promise and over deliver,” said Akridge.

Within the skin care market, there are major skin concerns, and for each of these concerns, Clarisonic is creating a complete package—a device and sonically optimized formulations—to provide synergistic results for customers. An example of this is the company’s Deep Pore Detoxifying Solution, which claims to reduce the appearance of pores by 25% after just one use. Overall, Clarisonic develops beauty devices by knowing its customers and the problems they have with their skin. “Once we focus on an issue, we then determine what is the best device and formula to help with this concern in a safe and rapid manner,” explained Akridge.


The acquisition of Clarisonic has helped to increase consumer awareness regarding skin cleansing systems overall and indicates that major beauty companies are taking interest in beauty devices. L’Oréal’s purchase may inspire other acquisitions.

“Essentially, the global at-home beauty devices market is likely to see a greater tendency of mergers and acquisitions activity as large established marketers acquire smaller marketers to gain market share and intellectual capital in this relatively avant garde segment,” states market researcher Kline & Company. Acquisitions would allow for increased consumer awareness and interest, as it generally leads to more advertising support, increased distribution and lower price points.

Another growth opportunity exists for beauty marketers to partner with device manufacturers. This synergistic idea has been observed in Japan by Kline, and is well illustrated by Panasonic recommending Shiseido cosmetic products for use with its devices—as well as packing AquaLabel moisture lotion with Panasonic’s Ultrasonic Beauty Device. These ventures allow tech brands to enjoy the cachet and reach of established cosmetic brands while providing brand-enhancing, cutting-edge technology.

“The opportunity is in the combination of devices and consumables where they have a synergistic effect but not where there is a consumable purely for recurring revenue reasons,” said Peter Luebcke, senior technology consultant, consumer products, Sagentia Ltd. To be successful, there must be value added for both the brand and the device technology. “Each on their own has efficacy and user experience value, but together they have an effect greater than the sum of their parts,” he explained. “It’s a bit like saying 1 + 1 = 3.”

An example of such a synergy would be a device plus an active formulation where not only is the formulation dispensed onto the skin or hair but is also either activated by the device and/or delivered deeper in to have greater efficacy.

A device can serve in a brand activation role as well, such as with the Unilever Dove hair diagnostic device developed by Sagentia. The device displays before and after levels of hair damage, showing that the user has benefited from using the range of Dove hair care products. “This is a powerful tool in demonstrating that there is efficacy and science behind marketing jargon,” explained Luebcke.

Synergistic Effect

A new generation of products that promise to boost the effects of devices by building on the concepts is also on trend, according to market researcher Mintel. From “electromagnetically balanced” liposome technology to sugar and oxygen, brands are looking to stimulate activity in the upper layers of the skin and boost cellular activity while capitalizing on the beauty device trend as well.

“Many ingredients work well with beauty devices,” said Clarisonic’s Akridge. “There is a synergistic effect when technology is used, making an average product amazing.”