AUSTIN, TX: L'Oréal, the beauty group, is making sure its innovation efforts in areas like wearable tech and product personalisation are focused on tangible consumer needs, rather than simply being led by new capabilities.

Guive Balooch, Global VP of L'Oréal's Technology Incubator, discussed the organisation's strategy at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.

"We have over 30 brands in our portfolio," he reported. (For more, including further details of the brand's innovation strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: L'Oréal mixes consumer insight and tech innovation.)

"And what we wanted to do with technology is make sure that we created platforms and things that we felt were based on real consumer needs that could go to multi-brands later, and to choose the right kind of tech before we think only about marketing and sales."

One example of this approach in action is My UV Patch, a stretchable, heart-shaped wearable sensor that sticks to the skin and which lets consumers track their exposure to ultraviolet radiation via smartphone.

Set to launch later this year, the patch will hit the market as part of a program for La Roche-Posay – a L'Oréal-owned brand that Balooch described as "very dermatology-driven and has really good, innovative products for sun care."

He added: "We have [produced] close to a million of them at the first launch. And we're not charging the consumer.

"We're going to give these away to consumers, and have them use it, and hopefully buy the right products and continue to use our sun care products."

A similar model has informed initiatives like an app for virtually "applying" L'Oréal Paris products, directly delivering printable nail art to fans of its Essie brand, and testing personalised foundation machines for Lancôme.

"I really believe that we're today already moving from product to services," Balooch said. "I think it means something for large cosmetic companies like L'Oréal about [potentially] creating more platforms and services that are multi-brand [in form].

"But I still think there's a place for this brand-to-consumer relationship that's very personal as well. So I think you'll have both.

"I think you'll have services that will enhance beauty, and also have some fundamental relationships between one brand and a consumer need."

Data sourced from Warc