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Technology in Beauty: Marrying Innovation and Commercialization

Research, development, and innovation are what Thomas Edison is most commonly known for. What people often overlook is that commercializing a product, creating a need for it, and seeing it sold, is also a large part of Edison’s legacy. He was a brilliant marketer and found great joy in doing it. This aspect of Edison’s legacy is at the core of the Edison Awards and is a guiding principle for the work done by two-time Edison Award winners Perfect Corp, who took silver in Retail Innovations this year, as well as silver in Personal Care in 2019, for their YouCam platform and suite of apps. Senior Vice President and General Manager of Perfect Corp Americas, Wayne Liu is passionate about the role commercialization has played in the success of the company and its products.

The YouCam suite of apps primarily centers around makeup and beauty. Surprisingly, however, Perfect Corp began as and continues to be a tech company with no background in the beauty industry. Wayne himself has a highly technical background, launching his career designing microprocessors at Intel before moving on to companies like Nvidia. The team at Perfect Corp shares a similar background, with the company originating as an offshoot of Cyberlink, a Taiwanese tech company in business for over twenty years. Wayne explains that, as a “hardcore technology company,” their goal is to use their technical knowledge and experience to create products that benefit as many people as possible, and their success in achieving this goal is evidenced by their Edison Award wins. Visiting the Inspiring Minds podcast for a special video edition, Wayne expounds upon the journey that brought him and his company to where they are today and the efforts they have made towards creating a product that exemplifies the marriage of innovation and commercialization.

The beauty industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world today. With makeup artistry entering the mainstream, opportunities in innovation and business are ripe. Perfect Corp has capitalized on this by designing technology that allows users to test makeup looks, receive personalized product recommendations, and more, all through the use of the YouCam apps. The company’s business is split into two parts: B2C or business to consumer, and B2B, business to business. On the B2C side, Perfect Corp has developed apps such as YouCam Makeup and YouCam Perfect, which are free to download on any Apple or Android device. The biggest draw of these apps is the ability to try on and take pictures with different makeup shades and styles, which they do using a filter and advanced face-tracking technology. Wayne quotes Perfect Corp founder and CEO in stating, “Seeking beauty is a fundamental need for human beings,” and this assertion is reflected in the YouCam apps’ wild popularity. They have garnered around 800 million downloads globally, and their growth in different regions has been found to be proportional to the population.

On the B2B side of operations, Perfect Corp partners with brands to not only advertise and recommend their products but to provide them with innovative technology that enhances customer experience as well. According to Wayne, brand integration is done in an omnichannel fashion, meaning that it bridges the gaps that exist between the various avenues through which the brand retails its products. If the brand seeks a website application, the company provides the API module as well as back-end support. Meanwhile, brands that choose a mobile application are provided with a package SDK that allows seamless integration of the technology into their own app. While the “under the hood” technology is entirely out of the box, larger brands are given the option to makes changes to user interface and other front-end elements to reflect their brand identity, with Perfect Corp supporting these changes on the tech side. Cosmetics retailer Estee Lauder is an example of the technology applied in a fully omnichannel fashion. Consumers can use the AR try-out function not only on the brand’s website but in their stores as well through the use of installed Apple or Android tablets.

To be constantly moving forward is a crucial element to success, in technology as well as commercialization. Perfect Corp is consistently making strides to bring the newest and most innovative technologies possible into the beauty world. One such technology they are currently working on, per Wayne, is the use of Artificial Intelligence in helping users create customized makeup looks with styles and shades selected based on what will best complement their face. Wayne explains that this service examines the consumer’s individual facial features, such as eye shape, brow shape, and skin tone, and uses this data to make its suggestions. It can even suggest a skincare routine based on analysis of skin age, texture, and moisture level. Moving forward in marketing specifically entails responding to consumer needs and wants, as well as concerns, with agility. Currently, the outbreak of COVID-19 is increasing the demand for contact-free services tenfold. While virtual consultations already exist as a service, Perfect Corp continues to work on new remote technology such as voice and gesture activation features. Trends are being responded to as well; masks have been added as a filter option, allowing app users to preview how makeup will look with half the face covered.

Part of selling a product, especially an innovative one, can also be quelling concerns about it. In the case of the YouCam suite, Perfect Corp provides customers concerned with data security peace of mind by never storing personal information on their own servers. The apps do not require an account to use, and consumers can easily opt out of sharing trend statistics if they so choose. A good portion of computing, Wayne explains, is done directly on the user’s device, meaning that it never passes through the app server at all. All this means that consumers and businesses alike can be assured that their information is not at risk, a common concern that puts many off of app usage. Responding to concerns like these can make or break the marketing of a product.

Innovation has many facets; the one most often forgotten is commercialization, despite being such a crucial part of the process. After all, if a product cannot be sold, it cannot reach the hands of those meant to benefit from it and will never fulfill the purpose for which it was created. With two Edison Award wins and a massive amount of market success under their belt, Perfect Corp has more than proven their understanding and mastery of this invaluable skill.

Listen to Wayne Liu’s Podcast