Within industrial organizations, the R&I function generates information. But does it put this information at the service of a strategic objective? Is the gap between business needs and R&I projects under control? This question is a major challenge, even now within the beauty industry.

Faced with the flood of new entrants, established companies in the beauty sector must build their opening strategy. The digital transformation of R&I must bring intelligent innovation capable of putting information at the service of an innovation strategy. In this context, the notion of a full digital loop developed by Philippe Letellier, Fellow Presans, provides a common thread to this process. In the case of the R&I function, it is a question, as we will see, of minimizing the gap between the perception of signals on the market and the mobilization of R&I resources that enable a relevant response to these signals.


1. Challenges

Identify disrupters and their means

The beauty industry is in full transformation. Established players are facing the joint threat of two types of players: on the one hand, new players capable of taking advantage of new marketing trends, and on the other hand, connecting to a new industrial ecosystem of on-demand production and development. On the other hand, the major digital players, that this global market of more than $500 billion annually with about 10% of sales online cannot leave indifferent. The potential for digital services based on big data and artificial intelligence is immense.


Beauty platforms from digital?

By bypassing traditional marketing levers, these new players could transform their lead in digital into a dominant platform position, centered notably on cell phones and their applications. The success of applications playing on the modification of virtual appearance suggests that digital beauty services will continue to develop by accumulating more and more valuable data. A Kodak-like scenario cannot be excluded under these conditions.


2. More innovation intelligence

Faced with this changing landscape, we must return to the strategic management of uncertainty based on intelligence in the sense that this term has in a military context. Innovation intelligence means putting information at the service of an innovation strategy based on a good understanding of major scientific and technological trends, and mobilizing the right keys to successfully exploit these developments. Faced with the barbarians of the digital age, large industrial companies are transforming themselves into open organizations.

This trend affects all industrial sectors, including the beauty industry. Within these companies, R&D is at the forefront of the functions concerned by the dual challenge of accelerating innovation and the return of scientific expertise. The uncertainties of the post-Covid19 world now add to this challenge.


3. Building the Full Digital Loop

Full digital loop: what is it all about?

In a context of crisis and cost reduction, it is valuable to keep a certain distance and not lose sight of the resources that will enable us to emerge from the turbulent period with a competitive advantage. The notion of the full digital loop, developed by Philippe Letellier, Fellow Presans, brings this hindsight as part of a holistic approach to digital transformation: it involves strengthening the role of new data in the management of functions (R&I, marketing, etc.), in order to integrate all relevant metrics and reduce feedback loop times.

Digital transformation tools, such as artificial intelligence, do not replace the experience or creativity of teams. They free up more time for human intelligence and individual and collective creativity. Their adoption requires support, as well as a good understanding of what they can bring. Basically, it is a question of exploiting the new data generated by digital transformation to optimize the measurement of key factors: traceability, qualification of raw materials, uses, weak signals on social networks, order levels, formula efficiency, sensory characteristics, microbiological testing of formulas, formula stability, etc. All functions are called upon to identify to which applications their limited resources should be directed.


One application: detecting weak signals

The detection of weak signals is the potential of great interest to R&I. Indeed, a good detection and decision process significantly reduces the gap between R&I projects and business needs, by accelerating the definition of new products, capable of anticipating new consumption needs and responding to these needs before competitors. In the beauty industry, where these needs evolve in a fluid manner according to trends with a high renewal frequency, this ability to anticipate these needs provides a decisive competitive advantage. The identification of weak signals is the tool for starting research, and resolving points of difficulty, in advance of the phase to be ready at the same time as the market for innovation. Such a process also enables a better measurement of the impact of R&I on business creation. The anti-Kodak innovation strategy, so to speak.



Companies in the beauty sector, like all industrial companies, have to manage two-time bases. On the one hand, that of continuous improvement, which must keep pace with the speed of market evolution, and which is ensured by the development teams of the business units. On the other hand, the time base of disruption, which must renew the company’s products and services, and which depends on the performance of the R&I function. Building a digital tool to detect weak signals, as part of a global full digital loop approach, allows us to better direct the efforts devoted to creating these innovative breakthroughs. Economic turbulence should not lead us to forget the important role played by these disruptions for the future of companies.