In the beauty and fashion world, creative collaborations are everything. Look no further than New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has collaborated with several iconic beauty brands over the years — including when it released a custom-designed eyeshadow palette by Estée Lauder for the art institution’s 150th anniversary.
Good collaboration in any industry pushes boundaries and inspires customers to experiment with new ideas and forms of self-expression. So it’s no wonder skincare and makeup brands are entering Web3 with the same ambitious energy that has always served the beauty industry.
Through new forms of digital artistry and cutting-edge technological innovation, today’s leading beauty companies hope to reach Web3-native consumers, create meaningful experiences and perhaps even clean up their supply chain.
It helps brands expand to new audiences
Yann Joffredo, Global Brand President at NYX Professional Makeup, said the L’Oréal-owned cosmetics brand has always championed inclusivity by partnering with independent content creators, bloggers and makeup artists. Joffredo sees Web3 as the next evolution of this mission, with the added benefit of connecting with a new audience.
“As the brand continues to evolve, it is important to advocate for the same representation in Web3,” said Joffredo. “Plus, we understood the unexplored territory within beauty in the metaverse.”
In early 2023, NYX launched GORJS, the world’s first beauty-focused decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to spotlight beauty experience creators within the Web3 ecosystem.
“GORJS integrates Web3 artists and beauty enthusiasts to lead the cultural conversation about what digital makeup artists will be in the metaverse and beyond,” Joffredo said.
It promotes meaningful opportunities for self-expression
Joffredo also said transparency and self-expression in the metaverse is a natural extension of NYX Professional Makeup’s brand values, adding that digital spaces provide unique avenues for beauty enthusiasts to express themselves and interact with products.
What is even more poignant is that digital spaces can also provide physical security in a politically polarized physical world. Last year, NYX teamed up with inclusive avatar company People Of Crypto (POC) and The Sandbox, a user-generated virtual environment, to launch a week-long Pride Month celebration. The event consisted of non-conforming NFT avatars who were gender non-conforming and wore makeup in a pixelated, or rather “voxelized”, fashion with colors representing the Progress Pride flag.
In a recent panel at the extended reality (XR) industry conference AWE Live, NYX vice president of digital innovation and ecommerce Maya Kosovalic spoke about how the Pride event foreshadowed a more immersive digital future: “Self-expression is really the core tenant of future gaming platform experiences, which are no longer single, solitary game loops, but highly immersive, engaging social experiences where younger generations can mingle with their real-life friends.
Celebrating one’s personality and identity through skins and digital goods, she added, is what makes Web3 so interesting for both beauty and fashion brands.
The panel also included Agustina Sartori, senior innovation director at the American beauty chain Ulta Beauty. “Beauty is a way of being yourself and being who you want to be,” she said. “In the digital world, why shouldn’t we care about the same thing?”
According to Sartori, Ulta Beauty has been experimenting with digital activations on Roblox since 2022. Roblox is a popular user-generated gaming platform that doesn’t use blockchain or cryptocurrency, yet appeals to big brands interested in building virtual worlds for customers. Ulta’s Roblox virtual world is called the “Ultaverse”. In May, Ulta Beauty teamed up with cruelty-free eyeshadow brand Urban Decay to throw a virtual party in the Ultaverse. Makeup influencers Emmy Combs, Leilani Green and Manny MUA hosted the event, which attracted some 500,000 visitors to the platform, Sartori said.
Ulta Beauty was also one of the first beauty brands to announce its participation in the upcoming Metaverse Beauty Week, which will take place June 12-16 across three different metaverse environments (Decentraland, Roblox, and Spatial). Interested participants can learn how to set up the necessary crypto wallets and create their first avatar by reading the instructions on the event website.
It could solve trust issues
Finally, blockchain offers potential solutions to one of the most consistent challenges facing the beauty industry: greenwashing. Amid growing market pressure to be cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and natural, clean beauty brands have gained more attention in recent years.
It is almost impossible for consumers to track the sourcing of ingredients from their favorite brands. But now there are many supply chain related use cases for blockchain – most of them are still new. The blockchain-based platform, created by French luxury skincare company Clarins, allows customers to track the production paths of their products throughout the supply chain. By scanning a QR code on each package, people can trace the origin of ingredients and learn how the product was made and even packaged.
Another way blockchain can help amplify trust issues is by weeding out counterfeit products, which is a growing problem in the world of “superfakes.” Luxury fashion giant LMVH launched a blockchain to help prove the authenticity of Louis Vuitton bags and Parfums Christian Dior.
Not related to supply chains, other beauty brand blockchain experiments include experimental bitcoin “cash-back” programs that incentivize consumers by rewarding them with satoshis for every purchase.
Blockchain-based beauty is exciting, but still experimental
As we see in all facets of Web3, the beauty industry is still experimenting with seamlessly deploying new technology to create lasting impact with its existing and emerging customer base.
“This is a process and it will take time,” said Leya Kaufman, head of brand, publisher and senior vice president of sales at media company Coveteur. “We will need to cultivate and engage audiences in this new arena while preserving our core consumer base,” she said.
In addition to leading Web3 infrastructure provider MoonPay, Coveteur partnered with hair care company Wella Professionals to launch The Wella Generator, a gamified digital sweepstakes hosted on the Ethereum blockchain.
“It was important to us to create a program that seamlessly connects with existing and new Web3 users,” Kaufman said, adding that the partnership with MoonPay has made this vision possible.
Despite growing pains, as digital identity becomes an increasingly important factor in our lives and personalities, it makes sense that people want to feel good about how they look and shop, both on-chain and off-chain, and it seems that blockchain very on-trend for beauty brands in the future.
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