Q&a / Beauty Tech
”Instagram wants to be Tik Tok, Tik Tok wants to be YouTube, YouTube wants to be TV, and TV wants to be digital”
On how beauty tech is best used in an ever-changing consumer landscape
13 Dec 2021

After studying psychology and fashion marketing, Buckley started working at a media agency during his masters, planning and buying for fashion brands such as the Gucci group, Hermes, and Bvlgari.

— I vividly remember one of these clients telling me they would never advertise online as it is not premium enough. I remember thinking this cannot be true and promptly decided to leave the world of traditional media believing digital was the future.

So, he’s been working in digital for large organisations, such as AOL (now part of Verizon), Marks & Spencer’s, and Sony, and, after a three-year spell for L’Oréal in the UK as chief digital officer, he’s now in charge of the company’s digital and marketing transformation in the Nordics.

— I continue to see the massive shift of people spending more and more time on digital channels and touchpoints. However, the things they are doing online are changing at such a rapid pace. Online gaming, Roblox, the metaverse, diversification, and consolidation of social channels; the list goes on. The challenge for me, therefore, becomes where to invest and where not to, he tells, continuing,

— You would not initially associate online gaming with beauty, however with tens of millions of people playing online, it is now a legitimate additional channel for us to consider. Just because someone is interested in gaming, does not, therefore, mean they are not interested or passionate about anything else. So, the question becomes how do we incorporate beauty and our brands in these environments in an authentic and genuine way? No matter what the platform, we want to see powerful and meaningful conversations, in a place and in a way that is going to resonate with people, and have a positive impact.

Is it easier or more difficult for you as a global beauty company to adapt to this new, digital reality compared to a smaller venture?

— I would not say it is easier, but it certainly comes with benefits working for the largest beauty company in the world, mainly resources, credibility, and money. And for a large organisation we are incredibly agile and can get things done quite quickly if we want to. We are clearly not a start-up, however, so may not be quite as reactive as a smaller venture. But whatever we do will be rooted in consumer insights, trends, and my — quite outstanding — colleague’s full beauty expertise.

What does beauty tech mean for you? And how will it change the business landscape?

— Beauty tech for me is an enabler. It allows us to share and talk about our products and our brand stories in a different and unique way. In the last two years, those consumer needs and demands have changed like no other period. Beauty tech allows us to meet those demands in a powerful and meaningful way. On one side you have the belief that digital innovations such as VR, augmented realities are absolutely going to change how we live, but on the other side, people love being with, engaging with, and communicating with other people. For me, beauty tech is another opportunity for people to interact and engage with each other.

What digital trends do you forecast for 2022? Any new social media platforms to look out for?

— Consumer care, while being one of the most long-established, will be the one area ripe for disruption. Whenever a consumer or a person needs us, we are there with the most appropriate answer to their question. This is particularly so in the Scandinavian markets where the need, and not just need but an absolute necessity for transparency, a deep-rooted sense of purpose and cause is mandatory and not just a nice to have. Traditionally, consumers would call or go into a store to seek advice from a beauty consultant. Consumers still seek this advice, just in different forms and in different ways, such as online chat, virtual consultants, and online beauty assistants, Buckley explains. He continues: 

— Of course, social platforms will continue to evolve, develop and absorb more time, with Tik Tok being the main protagonist. We then see the mass explosion of gaming, AR, VR, automation, the economy of algorithms, and what we call the experience economy. We then believe there will be continued consolidation, as each of the major platforms continues to evolve, wanting to become like the other. Instagram wants to be Tik Tok, Tik Tok wants to be YouTube, YouTube wants to be TV, TV wants to be Digital, social wants to be ecommerce. The cycle is virtuous.

— I’m incredibly passionate about content. If a consumer has a specific question, skin concern, or comment about beauty, it is our obligation to provide the best possible answer at that given moment, on whichever platform they happen to be on. Providing these answers and having an impact is the real gold. Content, I believe, is still very much King. We always start with the consumer needs, trying to understand consumer habits and behaviours. Then if it just so happens that we work with a start-up or have an innovation to resolve some of these challenges, then great. But it is not a necessity. I enjoy testing things and risking a little. Testing, learning, and ultimately progressing. If we continue to experiment, innovate, and above all have fun, then I’m happy, Buckley concludes.

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