Coty And Building Beauty eCommerce For A Voice-Activated World

Coty beauty

Coty is not quite a household name — though the cosmetic, skincare, fragrance and hair color products it makes and distributes through the 77 beauty brands it owns are well known all over the world. All in, the business brings in about $9 billion in revenue a year and its products are sold in 150 million countries.

And while its name might not be familiar to you, its brand family almost certainly is: COVERGIRL, Max Factor, Bourjois, Rimmel, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, Hugo Boss, Gucci and philosophy all fall under the Coty umbrella — making Coty the global leader in fragrance sales, number two in professional salon hair color and styling products and number three in color cosmetics.

But the future of the cosmetics, fragrance and beauty industry, according to Coty Vice President, Digital Innovation Fred Gerantabee, will be about more than just products.

Instead of merely putting the right object into consumers’ hands, as of 2018 it will be about about really unlocking that product for them, and making it easy for the customer to really use that product to its fullest potential.

And by the numbers, it seems consumers of beauty products are avidly trying to unlock that potential. According to BBC reports, consumers now watch approximately a million YouTube beauty videos per day — and the more people watch the videos, the more likely they are to spend on cosmetics. There are rumors that beauty brands will pay well-known Instagram influencers $20,000 to even $85,000 for a single video or Instagram post advertising their products. There are also slightly darker rumors that brands will pay equivalent amounts for negative reviews of competing products.

And while Coty surely has plenty of relationships with social media influencers across its cavalcade of brands, it recently announced the latest phase of its expansion into the new frontier of the digital marketplace, the launch of the first at-home hair color action for the Google Assistant on Google Home smart speakers and smartphones, to be known as the Clairol Color Expert.

“We worked with Google, who helped us identify insights around known category challenges combined with how (and where) beauty consumers are using voice assistants,” Gerantabee said. “By delivering Clairol expertise through the unique Google Assistant ecosystem we are able to transform the at home hair color experience and truly help Clairol consumers feel confident that they will get better results with a lifeline and expert at every step of their journey.”

The tool is designed to make it easier for a consumer to take an expert look at the process of home hair coloring by allowing Google’s assistant to offer up a step-by-step walk-through of the process. That can start with finding the right shade and end with aftercare and instructions for touch-ups. The app is summoned up with the phrase “Hey Google, talk to Clairol.”

Google, and its associate ecosystem of 500 million devices, “serves as an ideal platform for a beauty assistant given its depth of reach, especially amongst 18 to 34-year-old women who buy at-home color,” according to Gerantabee.

The move, however, is not Coty’s first foray into the world of incorporating voice-based assistants with its product lines. A little under a year ago, the firm launched Let’s Get Ready, a visual skill for Amazon’s Alexa line designed to take a user’s personal attributes such as hair, eye and skin color and provide “on-demand, occasion-based look planning.” Looks settled upon can be saved, and any of the products featured can be added to an Alexa shopping list. It can also be synced with a Facebook account, so the skill can suggest looks for upcoming events ahead of time.

The two features for voice are, notably, quite different — indicating that Coty sees a trend that perhaps started on mobile and social media now making its next journey to voice-controlled commerce shepherded by digital assistants like Alexa or Google Home Assistant. And Coty wants to make sure its many beauty brands are along for the ride.

“In beauty, service is the new product,” Gerantabee said, “and for consumers, the real value of a product is not just what’s in the box, but the expertise and service that comes with it.”