AI technology in beauty China

AI in China’s Beauty and Cosmetics industry: AR try-ons to unmanned vending machines, the future of beauty is here | Daxue Consulting

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The development of artificial intelligence(AI) in China is very rapid; artificial intelligence can be found in every corner of the consumer journey. From mobile phone payment to face recognition of unmanned shops, AI creates a more convenient and efficient service experience.  AI in China’s Beauty and Cosmetics industry is making changes at the level of customers acquisition, products, and even management.

Digital transformation of the beauty industry in China: Customer’s experience enhanced by AI

As the beauty industry is always agile to fashion trends, it naturally does not miss the AI technological application. Customer experience is enhanced by the digital transformation of the beauty industry in China, such as automated retail, virtual makeup try-on & removal, and voice-guided mirror. 

Automated retail in Beauty and Cosmetics in China

The unmanned retail industry has seen diverse industries attempt the automated business model, ranging from unmanned convenience stores and more innovative product lines such as magazines kiosks and umbrellas rental stands. AI in cosmetic retail is one of the more successful expansions to the unmanned retail industry. Mariedalgar is a domestic cosmetic brand that launched its unmanned vending machine at Hangzhou West Lake Yintai. Upon scanning the machine’s QR code, customers enter the product page; they can follow the Tmall online store, and browse and purchase a mini lipstick for only 5 RMB. The whole shopping experience process can be less than 1 minute and 30 seconds. The main purpose of the event is to get much more exposure to the brand. Mariedalgar’s Hangzhou vending machine sold a total of 1,550 lipsticks in three days, which is equivalent to a week’s sales in-store.

AI in China’s Beauty and Cosmetics industry
[Source: Mariedalgar “Lipstick vending machine”]

Mariedalgar will also cooperate with Tmall to complete docking of its online and offline membership system, analyze customer insights, and membership programs.

Makeup Virtual Try-On & Removal supported by AR

The virtual makeup technology uses 3D dynamic makeup, which is the most widely used AI technology in the beauty industry in China. Consumers can try lipstick, eye shadow, blush, eyebrows pencil, and false eyelashes, and other products in less than a second. Customers have the option to buy the products after digitally trying them on, which reduces costs and expands beauty retail terminals. The purchase of products brings a convenient experience.

At the same time, brands can also use AI technology in beauty to collect consumer information and make personalized product recommendations and development based on big data.

AI in China’s Beauty and Cosmetics industry
[Source: Watsons “Watsons’ ColorLab Store”]

In 2017 April, Watsons also launched “Style Me, Color me,” which is one of the applications of AI in beauty. It can automatically identify the customer’s face when they sit in front of the in-store mirror tablet, providing make-up suggestions virtually applied to the customers face on the mirror. In addition to the pre-shopping experience service, Watsons has also implemented AI technology to enhance the consumers’ experience. With the newly established self-service checkout counter, customers can pay online with their mobile phone and could choose to pick up from the store or home delivery within 4 hours.

Voice-guided mirror, convenient customer shopping guide

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” This speaking mirror not only exists in Disney’s fairy tale “Snow White” anymore, now with the “Tmall Elf Queen,” everyone can have their own “magical mirror.”

AI in China’s Beauty and Cosmetics industry
[Source: Daxue Consulting “Snow White Mirror & Tmall Elf Queen Mirroir”]

At the Tmall Gold Makeup Award in 2019, a voice-guided mirror attracted a lot of attention. This voice guided mirror can chat with people, tell stories, play music, and control the electrical appliances in the home.

This is an 8-inch diameter mirror surrounded by LED lamp beads that can provide the best light source during makeup. It could also simulate the illumination under different weather conditions, to make sure that the makeup is suitable home and go out.

This smart beauty mirror was developed by the Alibaba Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. According to the on-site staff, in addition to the professional makeup mirror and lighting effects, the mirror also developed professional skin testing, sunscreen index inquiry, beauty reminders, and beauty knowledge.

What are the AI beauty trends in China? The applications of AI in R&D and marketing

Personalized Recommendations

Per month, about 6 million photos are produced by the users of Meitu Matrix App. Meitu’s big data resource provides a powerful foundation for Meitu AI. Based on big data and cooperation with medical research, Meitu recommends cosmetics for users personalized to their own needs. Through skin tests, big data analysis, and personalized recommendation, Meitu builds a personalized service for user’s deep experience.

AI in cosmetics retail: Precision management of logistics

In terms of after-sales, Meitu’s artificial intelligence optimize operational logistics and management. By using AI in cosmetics retail, Meitu investigates the trends to make sales forecasts, selects a suitable address of warehouse for storage, and the best delivery route planning, to give the best delivery experience to customers.

AI in cosmetics retail
[Source: Chuttersnap “Logistics port. AI used in the beauty industry”]

Keep your business up to date, be a part of the digital transformation of the beauty industry in China

Overview of the Chinese AI industry

According to the China Artificial Intelligence Development Report 2018, The number of Chinese artificial intelligence companies is the second-most in the world. From the perspective of the research directions of enterprises, China’s artificial intelligence enterprises are mainly distributed at the application and technology segments, while the proportion of the basis segment is relatively small. From the perspective of market size, China’s artificial intelligence market is quickly growing, and the largest market is the computer vision; voice and visual AI technology are the most mature among all the application layer’s technology.

However, there are still some problems with China’s artificial intelligence, for example, the lack of top AI talents, and the strength in core areas such as hardware and algorithms, is still very weak.

A union of cosmetic brands and artificial intelligence companies in China

digital transformation of the beauty industry in China
[Source: Daxue Consulting “AI landscape in China. AI uses in the beauty industry”]

AI is increasingly integrated into the beauty and cosmetics industry in China.

At the basis layer, by analyzing the big data, China’s beauty industry thereby has a better understanding of consumer demands, and to better serve their needs. Represented by Alibaba group and other companies, AI is used beauty industry to provide beauty data.

At the technology layer, applications of AI in beauty cover all of its subcategories. For example, the voice-guided mirror requires both the technology of speech recognition and mapping/semantic analysis.

AR is widely used in the beauty and cosmetic industry as well, an example as the virtual makeup try-on and removal. AI technology in beauty also needs the support of image recognition. Companies as Unisound, Sensetime, and Alibaba group are working on this.

At the application layer, the virtual assistant could better satisfy customer’s needs by quick replies to customer service inquiries. Future applications of AI in beauty could be extended to logistic, marketing, and personalized promotion. Malu innovation, Ipinyou, and Xiaoi are companies that focus on those applications, respectively.

China’s beauty industry has benefited from the digital transformation of AI technology. It enhanced customers’ experience by applying marketing, logistics, personalize promotion, big data, and other artificial intelligence. AI uses in the beauty industry are becoming more and more important.

Author: Ziqi Miao


We have done robust research on AI in China, and you can check it out on our AI in China White Paper.


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