Bespoke beauty: Why personalisation should be the new norm, not new luxury

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Bespoke beauty: Why personalisation should be the new norm, not new luxury
Consumers may pay a premium for bespoke beauty products, but Constance Mandefield, founder and COO of Singapore skincare firm alche{me}, personalisation should not be perceived as a luxury.

When alche{me} was conceived, Mandefield said that one of the goals was to make its products accessible as they believe that “every woman has the right to beautiful skin”.

Making a comparison to other personalised products, Mandefield said: “You pay $10 to $15 more to have your initials and it’s seen as a special luxury, but it doesn’t necessarily change the way you use your wallet.”

“When it comes to skin care… what is inside is really different. It’s not just for the hype of having your name on the bottle. When you have a product that is personalised, you actually change the function of the product. It’s meant for you so you can have nice skin and an efficient skin care routine.”

The future is bespoke

The market for personalised beauty may be in its infancy, but Mandefield believes it is the future of the beauty industry.

“It has been a trend that has been emerging since 2017 and that is going to continue in the coming years because it does change the function of the product. People are looking for personalised product and it makes more sense when it comes to beauty products,” ​she said.

While working for French beauty brand Clarins, Mandefield and co-founder Tuyen Lamy noticed that there was a demand for personalised products, fuelled by the changing consumer behaviours in Asia.

“In terms of how they shop, consumers are not necessarily looking for the advice of a beauty advisor in a department store anymore. Instead, they research online, looking for products that are good for them,” ​Mandefield.

Instead of adding more products to the clutter, Mandefield and Lamy resolved to help women build a minimalistic but effective beauty routine. “For us it was about how we can help them by getting the right product to them, use there are all sorts of products out there, how can she get what she needs?”

The beauty of personalised skin care, said Mandefield is being able to have multiple benefits in one bottle. “With personalised beauty, you have a product that is more sophisticated in terms of formulation because it would include different elements for the customer.”

However, Mandefield added that consumers still need more education on the concept of personalisation.

“They need to understand how the product is personalised for them. There is a whole education that needs to be done, to explain how it is personalised, that it’s made to order with good quality ingredients. That is more efficient that what they are currently using, because it has been made for them.”

Personalised service

For alche{me}, the concept of personalisation extends into customer service. Instead of a simple questionnaire, the brand uses an algorithm to assess skin condition which compares selfies to its database of selfies.

After factoring answers to five questions, the algorithm gives users a preliminary analysis on their skin concerns, and the ingredients that are best suited to correct them.

“We wanted something that was more interactive so we built a facial recognition tool. Basically, when a customer uploads a selfie… the algorithm scores for wrinkles, pigmentation, pore number and size… We use this as a way to engage with customers, but she has the ability to change and reselect what is her key priority.”

Additionally, the brand guarantees reformulation if their product does not work out for their consumers. “If you have skin reaction, we will offer a reformulation of the product. It’s a guarantee so we can find the best product that suits that person.”

The company is able to reformulate products in a short time as they have an in-house production lab chemists. “We also have that direct link with the customers. With no intermediary we can churn new formulations very quickly”

Ambitious expansion plans

Now in its second-year, the Singapore-based brand already has its sights set on expansion. As their products were formulated for the Southeast Asian market, Mandefield and Lamy are looking to enter Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

“The first natural markets would be in Southeast Asia first because we have formulated for Southeast Asia. They have needs in terms of lighter textures which makes more sense to have personalised skin care as layer – what Korean and Japanese beauty recommends does necessarily work for a hot and humid environment for people who have acne-prone or oilier skin.”

Eventually, the plan is to expand further north in Asia and to Europe. “China will be a question at some point, but it’s not a priority now”

Unfortunately for fans of alche{me}, the brand has no plans to expand into colour cosmetics in the near future. “When it comes to make-up, it definitely makes sense to work on personalised foundation. But that means different technology, materials, manufacturing processes, and so on.”

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