2018.04.2 - All , FASHION ASPECT

Revolution in personalization, made possible by technology

ifs New York

In recent years, offering personalized services focused on the needs of ‘the individual’, is becoming active in every industry. Especially in the millennial generation whom will be shouldering consumption from here-on, ordering personally designed items, from clothes, sneakers to coffee, is becoming common-place. In the U.S., this wave of personalization is spreading, not only in fashion, but is also seeping through into fields of health/wellness and beauty. In this issue, we would like to introduce some of the latest examples of health/wellness and beauty industry in the U.S., in which personalization is advancing rapidly.

■Personalized supplement “Care/of”
Supplements which fits the needs of each individual consumer

According to research conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), an industry group of functional food, in the U.S., 71% of the adult population, which is over 170 million people, take vitamins or supplements (supplements, hereinafter) daily, and the market size has exceeded annual sales of 30 billion JPY. The supplement consumption amount of the millennial generation, between 18~34 years old, is especially behind this rise. A variety of products are coming up, one after another, due to this market expansion, but at the same time, consumers have begun to voice concerns such as “am I getting the most suitable amount of the nutritional compositions I need to maintain my health?”, and “don’t know which brand to choose”. “Care/of”, a start-up company dealing in health care and technology based in N.Y., was introduced into the market in answer to such questions.

“Care/of” was created by Mr. Craig Elbert, formally of “Bonobos”, an EC men’s apparel-wear brand, and Mr. Akash Shah, formally of “Hometeam”, a health-care start-up targeted towards seniors, under the conviction that “the health-care field is one which needs personalization”. Utilizing the latest in technology and welcoming doctors and nutritionists from Harvard University and Tufts University as specialized advisors, they offer a completely tailor-made supplement brand which answers to the detailed needs of each user. They are winning over the support from millennial generations by using high-quality raw materials, disclosing their way of procuring materials and production process, realizing an affordable price range, and furthermore, their unique package.

It is a subscription commerce system in which personalized vitamin packs are delivered to the users’ home, monthly. Users access the “Care/of” Web site or application, and spend a few minutes answering a quiz regarding their eating habits, lifestyle and health condition. Based on the answers, the perfect combination tailored to each individual’s needs are extracted from over 30 vitamins, plant constituents, probiotics (beneficial bacteria), and packed into personalized vitamin packs.

In August last year, Care/of procured a total of 13.9 million dollars in funds from several investment companies through Series A round investments and is said to be in the process of developing products other than supplements.

Personalized daily supplement of “Care/of”. Personalized vitamins matching your needs and health condition is packed for individual daily use.

■The personalized hair-care brand, “Function of Beauty”
Will they be the big trend of the 2018 beauty industry?

While the flow towards placing weight on “customer experience value” such as comfort in buying and using, in addition to the quality and functionality of the product, is getting stronger in the beauty industry also, the demand for customized products focusing on individual needs is at a rise.

“Function of Beauty” caused a revolution in market hair-care products which was advancing towards homogenization. Established in 2016, in N.Y., by a M.I.T. graduate computer scientist and cosmetic chemist, under the simple motto of “offer hair-care products befitting the hair type of each individual consumer”, they directly sell customized hair-care products to consumers on-line.

They probe into hair type, head or scalp problems of each customer, on-line in a quiz format, and suggests the best combination for each individual, from within 1.2 billion combinations. The customer then chooses their choice of color (from 5 colors) and fragrance (from 4 types), and the customer’s name is printed on the package. One of the attractions is the affordable set price for shampoo and conditioner ($32~$42). If you are unhappy, you can re-customize free of cost. Once you decide on your personalized combination, you can reorder any time, and the also offer subscription service. They are also particular about no additives or preservative, such as surfactants or paraben. After procuring an approximately 300-thousand-dollar capital fund from a start-up incubator, it is said they are already making profit in less than a year from start-up. In November 2017, they opened a POP-UP store in N.Y., introducing not only the production process to customers, but also to reflect direct feedback from customers into their products. They are putting strength into offering products on-time in accordance to customer needs and demands.

“Function of Beauty” which revolutionized the U.S. hair-care industry. Original shampoo & conditioner customized to individual hair types, can be ordered on-line on the WEB.

■Personalized acne care, “Curology”
Customized prescription medicine by a real dermatologist, surpassing algorithm

Curology, established in 2014, is a start-up company based in San Diego, specializing in acne and aging care developed by dermatologists and skin specialists. They offer an on-line purchasing service of telemedicine diagnosis and prescription skin-care medicine by a medical team of dermatologists and nurse practitioner. Established through a 15-million-dollar capital fund from venture capital.

In this system, the user answers a few questions on-line, regarding case history, past prescription medicine, ideal skin, and sends a photo of themselves taken from a smartphone. Then, a personal dermatologist is appointed to make personal diagnosis, and a prescription for custom ingredients and treatment plan is sent to the user’s home. At $19.95 a month, the user can stay in communication with their appointed dermatologist through chat, and ingredients can be changed at any time according to changes in symptoms. Because the custom ingredients unique to “Curology”, not only treats acne, but also has the effect of eliminating pore-clogging dirt, they say they have received many comments from users whom were distressed by pimples, that their skin not only cleared dramatically in a few months, but their texture softened, and skin tone became lighter. They are receiving high praise in the point that they offer personalized planning of prescription according to symptoms, through constant communication with licensed dermatologists.

“Curology” offers customized prescription medication through telemedicine diagnosis by dermatologists, at prices more affordable than usual.

During the mass-production era of the 20th century, custom-made was treated as a good made to order, meaning more trouble and cost, but recent year advances in technology have made the offering of personalized products matching the needs and preferences of each individual consumer, easy and possible. The millennial generation whom are digital natives, grew-up in an environment of getting the information they want instantly, so compared to proceeding generations, they extremely value the sense of “now”. Advances in technology is the thing which grants the millennial generation’s desire for “See Now, Buy Now”.

According to beauty analysts, one of the large trends in the U.S. beauty industry in 2018, is “Bespoke (custom-made products)” service. It is predicted that, in the near future, personalize-able brands in make-up products, such as anti-aging skin-care based on DNA analysis, color make-up, mascara, etc., will be coming up.

In the past, “customize” was a luxury permitted only to the rich or people with very particular preferences, but in the U.S. health/wellness and beauty industries, it is safe to say they have entered an era in which “personalization”, the customization of products, has become commonplace.