Olay is set to showcase its latest technologies, products and innovations at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Among the unveilings are three new features to the U.S. version of the Olay Skin Advisor, all set to go live in 2019. Update: In an exclusive interview, Dr. Frauke Neuser, Olay’s principal scientist, discusses the implications for the consumer experience and future product development.
You Can Change Your Skin Future
Using a proprietary visual simulation algorithm, the Olay Future You Simulation allows users to visualize what their skin and face will look like in the future under different scenarios, such as fast or slow aging and daily SPF use or no SPF use.
Users can take this knowledge to craft a personalized skin care regimen and further prevent potential long-term skin concerns based on their individual results. (A basic version is currently live in Asia.)
The Olay Whips simulator, meanwhile, allows consumers to virtually try on products and see what their skin will look like if they use the company’s line of Olay Whips products; this simulator is focused on the immediate finish, look and shine of the skin.
Dr. Frauke Neuser, Olay’s principal scientist, says that the brand's initial Skin Advisor launched in 2017 as a web-based application. This allowed consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere to access personalized product recommendations and to learn something meaningful about the condition of their skin.
The simulator enhances the experience by allowing the shopper to engage with their possible future selves and to learn about how the selection and use of targeted skin care solutions can alter aging scenarios.
Neuser points out that the tool literally empowers consumers to change their futures.
The technology is available in an online version, as well as a more elaborate department store experience, which is being rolled out in China.
The Olay Whips simulator, on the other hand, provides a new tool for virtual product try-ons, leveraging a class of technology that previously served hair color and makeup brands.
The Decoded Skin Care Consumer
Olay's Skin Decoder is set to debut in China in February 2019 (where Olay is sold at department store counters). This mobile phone camera attachment, a cone-shaped device that selectively controls lighting conditions, enables a high-resolution image of the skin for a more detailed skin diagnosis; the system also provides users the ability to track results over time.
While Olay doesn't currently sell the hardware, Neuser says it is relatively inexpensive, and therefore could be more easily adopted by consumers, should the company choose to distribute the attachments to the public.
At CES, the company will also provide a look at the latest innovation from its personalized skin care branch, Olay Labs. Olay Labs Moments is designed to monitor and sense the user’s daily circumstances and react in real time, offering specific skin care solutions.
Neuser calls these diagnostic tools a further continuum of beauty customization. Moments builds on the Skin Advisor by leveraging image and product recommendation elements from its predecessor while expanding the capability to track the progress and goals of individual consumers in real time in their homes.
Moments is built for daily use and adjusts to individuals' dynamic skin conditions, says Neuser. For Olay, Moments is the next level of personalization.
The principal scientist acknowledges that different consumers may have varying comfort levels regarding data collection; some may be willing to trade a level of privacy in exchange for greater diagnostic detail, while others may not.
Tech-enabled Product Development
The Skin Advisor system helped collect consumer insights that informed the development of the Olay's light-as-air Whips array. The latest technologies introduced will similarly allow the brand to leverage greater consumer data points that can drive additional product development.
Ongoing engagement can also teach Olay how consumers actually use the company's products.
The Olay FaceNavi Smart Wand leverages diamagnetism, which allows the electromagnetic device to selectively repel key skin care ingredients, thereby driving them deeper into the skin.
The wand can be "tuned" to repel specific ingredients in different Olay formulations as prescribed by the Olay Skin Advisor mobile app, which will provide a much more personalized and optimized skin care routine.
Users begin by opening the app and allowing it to visualize their facial skin issues by zone.
Then, they apply a product, containing active ingredients such as niacinamide and peptides, which are recommended by the skin analysis results and optimized by personal preferences.
The Smart Wand applicator then delivers the preferred rate and depth penetration of the actives while the users moves the device around the zones of the face recommended by the analysis results.
For example, the wand would repel more peptides to target wrinkles and more niacinamide for visible pores.
Instructions are available as both real-time visualization and/or voice guidance. The app collects data to track skin progress and suggest changes as needed.
The wand was developed with Australia-based OBJ, a self-described "a global leader in magnetically enhanced transdermal molecular delivery technology."
Olay is exploring additional applications for the wand to expand the potential of this enhanced application technique.
The Future: Empowered Routines
Personalization is not a benefit, says Neuser, it is an enabler for a better consumer experience.
She adds that technology is rapidly addressing the challenge of matching the right product to the right consumer at the right time without over-complicating the process.
Technology has further expanded to enhance the application of product as well as, critically, the tracking of results by both the consumer and the brand.
These innovations allow the consumer to take control of their routines and adjust them as needed.
As with all things, Neuser says, technology ultimately must provide the right outcome and experience in order to succeed with the global shopper.
At the same time, brands like Olay are building vast and rapidly expanding troves of valuable consumer data that provides a deeper, longitudinal data set that will drive product development in truly new ways.
CES 2019 will be held Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas.