BEAUTY AND THE BLOCKCHAIN : HOW BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY ?
First appareance of blockchain technology was laid in the early 1990s with the work done by cryptography experts Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta. Starting from the concept of the "hash tree" patented by Ralph Merkle in the 1970s, the two experts managed to approach the modern definition of blockchain, although they did not fully conceptualize their work.
Years after that, Blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto between 2008 and 2009 along with Bitcoin. It is still unknown whether this Satashi Nakamoto is a person or a group. After he was sure that this technology was working properly, he disappeared after an e-mail stating that he donated it to people and that he would concentrate on working on other technologies.
So..before moving on to the effects and use of Blockchain on the beauty industry, let's briefly recall what blockchain is.
In the simplest terms Blockchain is a distributed data recording system that provides encrypted transaction tracking and created to ensure mutual trust and consensus. Contracts, digital identities, logistics, almost any type of asset and much more can benefit from blockchain. It is not a database because the saved data cannot be changed or deleted again. The main thing that makes this technology so great is that it does not need a central authority. Transactions are not managed by just one party, instead all transaction history is recorded in a decentralized and distributed ledger.
As for why it is so attractive to industries?
- In an industry where blockchain technology is used, all transactions performed on blocks are public.
- Transactions made on the blockchain cannot be changed by an outside intervention.
- Transparency and security are prioritized in sectors where blockchain technology is used.
5 Uses of blockchain for beauty brands:
1. Supply chain traceability
Knowing where a product comes from and how it’s made is important in any industry. But the health and beauty space is where consumers have been the most vocal about the need for transparency.
The UK-based cosmetics vendor Cult Beauty has begun working with blockchain firm Provenance to launch an in-store system called ‘proof points’. Brands selling through the site will be able to verify their claims about a product via open-source information from NGOs and lab reports, such as vegan ingredients or sustainability. This allows consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.
2. Product authenticity
As covered in the Netflix series Broken, counterfeit cosmetics products contain a variety of harmful materials including lead, glue, and even arsenic. As sellers become savvier with imitation packaging and selling through third-party sites like Amazon, it’s becoming more difficult for consumers to spot fake (and potentially dangerous) cosmetics.
The pharmaceutical company Seqens has developed a blockchain platform designed to authenticate both products and their raw ingredients via a digital ledger. Consumers will only need to enter the batch number onto the secure website to receive a full breakdown of the manufacturing and sourcing process, which helps build higher levels of brand trust and combat counterfeiting.
3. Loyalty rewards programs
The beauty industry has been something of a pioneer when it comes to successful loyalty rewards programs.
Sephora’s tiered Beauty Insider program now boasts over 25 million members worldwide, a major indication that it offers consumers genuine value. But Sephora isn’t putting its eggs in the one basket. The beauty giant, along with its rival Ulta Beauty and major brands including Glossier and E.l.f., is also signed up to the cryptocurrency rewards program Lolli. The platform, which boasts over 1,000 online merchants, allows consumers to earn portions of bitcoin as a reward for purchases.
“We saw it as a way to distribute bitcoin to more people, way easier by not making them have to be an investor to get into bitcoin. They could just be a shopper, which is something that everybody [is].” Says Alex Adelman, founder of Lolli.
Rather than being tied to one retailer, consumers are free to spend – or save – their tokens however they choose. This empowerment of the consumer is an extremely attractive value proposition that beauty brands are using to build stronger emotional connections with customers, especially when cryptocurrency investing remains such a male-dominated area.
4. Using NFTs to mix branding with art
An NFT is a digital asset that has been recorded onto a blockchain ledger, meaning it can be verified as the original of that specific file. It could be an artwork, a song, or even a funny GIF. The value of NFTs comes from their scarcity; people who buy NFTs are purchasing the prestige of ownership, driving demand for rare and unique collectibles.
The Berlin-based studio Look Labs caused a stir in April this year when it launched a high-tech-themed perfume called Cyber. It was accompanied by an exclusive NFT artwork containing a digital representation of the scent using NIRS data.
But it’s not only the luxury market that stands to benefit from NFTs E.l.f. recently offered its customers the opportunity to buy from its #CryptoCosmetics collection, digital reproductions of their most popular products – dipped entirely in gold.
5. Leveraging big data to build personalized products
Consumers don’t just want a brand to know their likes and dislikes, but to customize products for their needs.
Offerings such as Living Proof’s adjustable hairspray and Bite Beauty’s Lip Lab, where consumers can customize the share and finish of their lipstick, have found considerable success.
COSBALL, designed by a leading South Korean skincare manufacturer, is the world’s first fully customizable skincare range. Their goal is to build a beauty and wellness ecosystem where big data can be gathered and analyzed to refine formula recommendations. Consumers upload a detailed skin analysis via their smartphone camera to a blockchain system. This creates a peer-to-peer system of open data where recommendations become more tailored over time, rewarding customers with COSBALL tokens that can be redeemed on new products.
Given the secure nature of blockchain, this means consumers can share information that improves their brand experience, without needing to worry about hacks or misplaced data. 1.
5 Cosmetic and Beauty Companies Using Blockchain Technology
1.EM Cosmethics by Michelle PHAN
EM Cosmetics founder and beauty influencer Michelle Phan revealed in one of her interviews that she was very intrigued by blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in recent years. Thus, she made sure to implement it in her brand relaunched platform. Em cosmetics partnered with Lolli, a cryptocurrency rewards company in which Michelle Phan invested $3 million. This collaboration allows customers who place direct orders to earn 4.5% of Bitcoins via a Lolli browser extension, which works similar to the usual cashback, but customers get bitcoin instead.
Cult Beauty is one of the first brands that implemented blockchain technology to counter greenwashing in the beauty industry. Through a partnership with Provenance, Cult Beauty provides a digital platform that empowers brands to improve their transparency through a “Proof Points” system.
Look Labs is a fashion and beauty design company that innovatively merged perfume with blockchain technology, specifically NFTs.The Germany- based brand has recently designed Cyber Eau de Parfum, the world’s first digital fragrance, created by Sean Caruso, a Canadian artist.
Designed by a leading south korean skincare manufacturer, CosBall is one of the world’s first personalized skincare solutions. Powered by blockchain technology, CosBall created a beauty ecosystem where big data is stored and analyzed to ameliorate skincare formula recommendations. CosBall improves its customers’ brand experience by creating disposable skincare capsules and building customized skincare regimens.In addition, it rewards them with CosBall Tokens that are redeemed with every new purchase.
Through a partnership with Provenance, Purearth helps customers discover the origins of its product and creates a genuine connection with them by letting them view the product journey from start to finish. Customers can access all this information through the QR codes printed on each of CosBall products.In an interview with CosmeticsDesign- Asia, Pureearth founder Kavita Khosa shared:
“Purearth gathers and presents information and stories about its creations, sourcing and supply chains formulation and packaging including verified data to support them. By connecting this information in-store on pack and online. Provenance help the customer discover the origin journey and impact of Pureath creations”2
In sum, thanks to Blockchain everyone will be able to see what is in every cosmetic product they buy and make their choice accordingly. These uploaded data about the product will not be able to be uploaded without the approval of all other users. Makes it easy to share. The goal is to provide consumers with a high level of transparency and traceability throughout a product's lifecycle. Blockchain is helping to usher in an era where customer-centered retailing reaches new heights. Consumers can make better-informed purchasing decisions, be empowered by more flexible loyalty initiatives, and have access to unique and personalized product offerings.
The beauty brands that get on board with these developments now will be the best positioned to build lasting loyalty in the future and unique experiences.