Face care for you: Beiersdorf launches AI-powered D2C personalised face care brand O.W.N

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The face care brand Only What's Needed (O.W.N) has been launched as a direct-to-consumer brand online in select European markets and features just four products - a daily cleanser, daily moisturiser, night cleanser and night moisturiser (Image: Beiersdorf)
The face care brand Only What's Needed (O.W.N) has been launched as a direct-to-consumer brand online in select European markets and features just four products - a daily cleanser, daily moisturiser, night cleanser and night moisturiser (Image: Beiersdorf)

Related tags Beiersdorf Personalisation personalised beauty personalised skin care D2C AI beauty 4.0

Personal care major Beiersdorf has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) powered personalised vegan face care range that blends formulas based on individual skin needs using a proprietary algorithm and scientific questionnaire.

Launched last week, Beiersdorf’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) subscription face care brand Only What’s Needed O.W.N offered just four products as part of a simple face care routine – a facial cleanser and cream for the day and a facial cleanser and cream for use at night, all vegan-certified and made using as many naturally derived and biodegradable ingredients as possible.

The brand was available solely online in select European markets where consumers were asked to fill out a five-minute scientifically evaluated Skin Test questionnaire that was used alongside a proprietary algorithm to then blend formulas according to individual skin needs. The products were manufactured and packaged by a partner company into personalised, refillable jars or bottles featuring consumer names, for example: Frank’s O.W.N or Anna’s O.W.N.

A personalised beauty brand built with ‘underlying digital conditions’ in mind

The range had been developed by internal startup The Personalisation Accelerator within Beiersdorf and built on the company’s almost 10-year research into personalisation, including efforts made under myNivea tailored day and night creams launched in 2013.

“Personalisation is a major trend in many industries, including in cosmetics, and Beiersdorf has been working on various concepts and products over the past years,”​ said Dr. Frank Schwanke, manager of the personalisation accelerator at Beiersdorf.

“…In this, we have been considering not only the product side of things, but also the underlying digital conditions like data generation, the development of appropriate AI algorithms, and D2C concepts for a digital shopper experience,”​ Schwanke told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

Over time, Beiersdorf had identified several crucial aspects necessary to offer truly personalised beauty products, underscoring the company’s competitive edge, he said. Notably, personalised beauty had to feature “a comprehensive understanding of individual skin needs, fundamental knowledge regarding the active ingredients and their interaction with the skin, and many years of experience regarding taking the abundance of raw ingredients and creating the right blends and formulas”,​ he said.

Each formulation in O.W.N products used a “sophisticated algorithm”​ to select ideal ingredients and active ingredients for individual skin needs and skin care goals, he said, taking into account skin condition, lifestyle and environmental factors like humidity, weather conditions and exposure to pollutants. Importantly, Schwanke said this then evolved with every re-order – considering changing seasons or shifting living conditions or lifestyles, either automatically adjusted based on external influences or adjusted based on consumer input.

Beiersdorf's O.W.N brand was packaged in personalised jars and bottles for each consumer (Image: Beiersdorf/O.W.N)
Beiersdorf's O.W.N brand was packaged in personalised jars and bottles for each consumer (Image: Beiersdorf/O.W.N)

The algorithm and questionnaire had been built around insights and data from a survey of 4,000+ consumers conducted in the run-up to the brand launch, part of Beiersdorf’s wider international scientific study Skinly of 10,000 women across Europe and Asia that was collecting skin measurement data on a daily basis. The study had already pooled more than 2.5 million skin measurements via special measuring devices, environmental data and direct feedback from users.

People and planet – face care that ‘adds true value’ to skin care routines

But beyond the personalised nature of O.W.N, Schwanke said Beiersdorf had also centred this new brand around sustainability – building on the company’s wider CARE+ strategy of developing business with ‘courage, aspiration, responsibility and empathy’.

“For us, it is essential that we provide our consumers with an innovative and personalised offer in the field of skin care that adds true value to their skin care routine. O.W.N delivers sophisticated skin care with a simple routine, that’s effective on the skin and good to the planet,”​ he said.

The goal was to offer limited skin care products, tailored to skin needs, that were “environmentally conscious”​, he said.

Along with using biodegradable and naturally-derived ingredients, O.W.N was packaged in refillable jars and bottles with secondary packaging made from organic materials that were recyclable, to reduce plastic waste.

Schwanke said this greener aspect appealed to the target consumer for this new brand – women aged 18-35 seeking high-quality skin care products online but who wanted to “simplify their lives and prioritise what is really important to them”​.

And this was an increasingly important and expanding demographic, he said. “With this new brand we are building up a relationship with a constantly growing consumer group and are generating further valuable learnings in the field of personalisation.”

Beiersdorf R&D investment – €60m tech centre to drive NPD

Earlier this month, Beiersdorf provided detailed insight on a €60m multidisciplinary tech centre it was building​ that aimed to merge research, development and production, driving competition and future-proofing innovation.

Harald Emberger, senior VP of supply chain and member of the executive committee at Beiersdorf, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe one-third of the centre, set to be completed in 2024, would be dedicated to collaboration space – an important aspect that would encourage “a new horizon”​ in the way the company made products. The space would also prove important in helping Beiersdorf adapt and cater to rising e-commerce needs, he said.

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