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06-07-13 | Posted by

To paraphrase Madonna, “we are living in a digital world.” Grandmothers use Facebook, smart phones can hail a cab or a date, and supermarkets are so yesterday. Beauty too has gone digital, with specialized makeover, purchase, and treatment apps that tell you what, when, and where to buy a product or service.

But these user-friendly functions just scratch the service of digital’s reach. To keep up with consumers’ insatiable demand to be connected at all times, beauty companies are directing more and more resources to digital research, marketing, and innovative selling platforms.

In fact, beauty industry think tank, the Master’s Degree Program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management (CFMM) at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, devoted the class of 2013’s entire graduate Capstone project to the subject of Beauty in a Digital World. Three teams of graduating students presented their findings on the evening of June 5 to a packed house of industry insiders during a visually stunning production.

The FIT Capstone research presentations were divided into three key areas: Digital Analysis, Digital Marketing, and Digital Commerce. Prediction was the name of the game, with each group presenting a forward looking picture of what consumer marketing could be like.

For example, imagine a future where consumers wear or ingest devices that allow marketers to customize products based on biological data. A form of this technology already exists and is used by medical professionals to track medication doses.

If you think online marketing has brought the world to your fingertips, just wait for the future iteration of e-commerce. Image, sound, and video-capture technologies will allow you to shop for anything, anywhere—with just one click. The street—in London, Paris, or Shanghai—will become the new Amazon.

And facial recognition technologies, like those seen in the Tom Cruise futuristic action flick The Minority Report, will size up your age, skin type, and skin tone in a second and direct you to the foundation of your dreams or the perfect hair de-frizzing serum.

The Capstone research presentations are the culmination of a two year graduate program, created for on-the-rise beauty executives. CFMM students already work in the industry and generally have been recommended by their company to participate in this one-of-a-kind opportunity. The course work is demanding, the pace ridiculous, and the benefits huge. And I know of what I write, because I graduated from the program in 2005 with a Capstone project that focused on Consolidation in the Retail Beauty Market.

The companies represented in the current graduating class include L’Oreal, Coty, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Beiersdorf, Unilever, LVMH, Firmenich, Procter & Gamble, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and Shiseido. Beiersdorf, which was the corporate sponsor of the Capstone event, had two students in the class. For more information about CFMM, go to the FIT website. At the Capstone event, it was announced that Stephan Kanlian, the founder and director of the program, had just been named a Full Professor at FIT.

For members of the industry who missed the presentation, catch recaps at the HBA Global show on June 18 and 19, as part of the show’s Innovation Track.

It all leads one to wonder, how did we ever survive in the pre-digital days?

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