Kérastase Hair Coach: the smart hairbrush

When it comes to hair, it not a secret that especially women spend big time. In U.K women for example spend around £350 per year on hair salons- excluding other hair treatments and hair products(www.independent.co.uk). Healthy shiny hair is the dream of every woman and they will try every product and treatment to achieve it. It appears Kerastase heard all these wishes, and recently introduced the Kérastase Hair Coach Powered by Withings.

How it works

The smart hairbrush incorporates numerous fancy technologies that analyze and monitor the hair’s health. The first step is the assessment of the hair condition. The hairbrush is able to provide a hair quality score. Essentially, the hairbrush is equipped with a microphone and conductivity sensors that make all the evaluation. On the one hand the embedded tiny microphone detects the sound of the brush tines working through the hair. Then these auditory data are transmitted to a mobile app, where frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage is detected with the help of a smart algorithm. On the other hand, the conductivity sensors recognize whether hair is wet or dry (because sound waves of wet hair imitate the sound of smooth and less damaged hair). Then combined with the data accumulated by the microphone the app is able to offer a more accurate reading.

The second step is the estimation of  the brushing quality. With the help of elegant tools (accelerometer, a gyroscope, and 3 axis load cells) the brush detects your brushing patterns. Basically, it evaluates the force & rhytme when combing the hair, analyzes the gestures and counts the strokes. The info is once again sent to the application that in turn make specific recommendation. In particular, the app is able to provide insight on how to avoid damaging hair, how to improve brushing habits and how brush use impacts the quality of hair.

The final step is for users to receive personalized advices and product recommendations. The app even takes into account external factors (humidity, temperature, UV and wind) before combining it with the rest of the accumulated data. Hence, thorough insight and more accurate personal consulation is given to the consumers. Based on the users’ hair profile the app then proceeds to recommend the appropriate Kerastase products and routines.

Value co-creation

Users brush their way into co-creating value by providing the necessary data for the smart algorithm to make the diagnosis and to subsequently provide personalized recommendations. User’s brushing habits, hair quality and geo location data (for external factors such as weather) are gathered and drive the whole process. Successful diagnosis leads to better customized advice and more accurate product recommendations.

Kerastase benefits by potentially increasing its products sales and by better targeting consumers. The first source of profit is the hairbrush itself. Subsequently through the hairbrush and the app the company can satisfy the needs of its customers by offering personalized advice and recommending the right hair products to the right consumer (instead of depending on hairdresser to recommend and promote its products).

Efficiency criteria

Even though it is a smart brush, users will still use it the same way they would use any other brush. Hence it is an easy to use product and no extra amount of effort is required. The hairbrush however is pricy (at $200), which means that users should spend a respectful amount of money to acquire it. Nevertheless, on the long run users could potentially save money and time.Improving their hair’s health means less visits to hair salons and less expenses on hairdressers, hair treatments and on wrong products.

For the company the hairbrush might be a new source of income, provided that users embrace it and are willing to actually spend $200 on a hairbrush. If indeed users are lured to try it the company can subsequently drive further its hair products’ sales and its revenue. The generated revenue will then have to cover the R&D costs, which should be quite high since it is an innovative technological product. Last but not least, by exploiting the collected data the company can increase its insight and use them for future developments.

Overall, time will tell if users indeed will be impressed by this innovative technology, invest on it and engage with it. Compared to conventional brushes the Kerastase smart hairbrush is without a doubt substantially more expensive. However, consumers and predominantly women already spend around $80 for other styling tools (e.g. hair straighteners), hence compared to them the hairbrush does not seem that expensive. There are two key factors that would determine its success. Firstly, whether the company will succeed in convincing the consumers to spend more on the short run and save more on the long run. Secondly, it has to ensure that users will actually buy the products that the app recommends (users could easily turn to another brand to e.g.  buy a shampoo for damaged hair). Since Kerastase hair products fall in the luxurious category and are thus pricy, the app could perhaps include more economical products as well. These products should however belong to L’Oréal which is Kerastase’s parent company(something that might lead to product cannibalism however it could also increase the sales of the L’Oréal company products over those of its competitors).





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