Since I have no understanding at all of the mysteries of the beauty business, I have no way of judging whether the Kérastase Hair Coach that has been launched at CES will be a success or not. However, I’m pretty confident that having seen the announcement more than a few companies in Shenzhen will already be working on similar smart brushes and will probably beat L’Oreal to market with significantly cheaper devices.
After all, cramming a few sensors into a slim bezel with some bristles on the end of it and cranking out an app to measure a few key haircare variables isn’t exactly rocket science. And if they’re getting decent margins on selling the hardware, the manufacturers probably won’t be too concerned about generating additional revenues from the product (at least at this stage) by promoting actual haircare products that magically resolve the issues identified by their device like L’Oreal plans to do.
The big question I have in my mind, though, is whether L’Oreal or its potential competitors are answering the single most crucial question people ask about their hair. While it may be useful to know in a nerdish sort of way how many times you’ve brushed your shimmering locks and what their “frazzle” factor is, all this numerical data doesn’t actually tell you whether your hair looks good just as you are about to leave for work or a social event.
In fact rather than reassuring you that your hair looks great, a smart brush risks undermining your confidence by giving you lots of new problems that you were only vaguely aware of before to suddenly worry about. While that may lead to increased sales of haircare products among more committed consumers with enough time and money to be concerned about such things, I can’t help wondering whether it will prove to be a major turnoff for many would-be customers.
The beauty of the IoT is that it enables you capture and monitor an incredible amount and variety of data. The challenge however, is turning that data into useful information that resonates with consumers in meaningful ways. It’s going to interesting to see what the response will be when the Kérastase Hair Coach and its would-be competitors hit the market place.