It has never felt more important to stay connected. The global beauty sector has long nurtured loyalties based on customer experience at department store counters.

But as the high street continues to suffer, brands must engage more remotely than ever before. When no one is waiting at the beauty counter, they need to embrace tech to connect with customers now and into the future.

Here are four ways tech can keep beauty brands connected to stay-at-home customers.

Online tutorials

Brand ambassadors and beauty counter consultants may be unable to reach as many consumers directly today, but their expertise remains as powerful as ever.

Set up the team for home streaming and the excitement of the ‘free makeover’ can be recreated digitally. Demonstrating the efficacy of products with a human – albeit virtual – touch, can keep even the smallest brands connected to customers. As influencers have already proven, an IGTV masterclass can inspire a loyal following. The ability to directly link to products using this platform is a boon to beauty brands, and forward-thinking companies such as Arbonne and Tropic Skincare have already seen great success engaging in this way.

Video consultations

At a time of repetitive handwashing and isolation indoors, skincare advice is invaluable, and many consumers want to hear from the pros. In-person appointments may not be possible but that does not mean brands cannot provide personalised advice. One-on-one video consultations provide new opportunities for brands to connect with their customers like never before, offering a personalised experience while keeping consultants and consumers engaged.

Smart products

The development of smart devices for beauty has been the latest in the ‘quantified self’ phenomenon already prevalent in the fitness industry. Innovations such as smart hairbrushes and devices that scan skin allow consumers to monitor their skin and hair health using data relayed to connected apps.

The tech then provides highly personalised advice on how the user should brush their hair or use skin and beauty products for better, healthier results. As expectations change rapidly, brands that offer adaptive personalisation will stay connected and grow deeper relationships with their consumers.

Augmented Reality

The rise of e-commerce and ease of returns means more consumers ‘add to cart’ without the need to try items beforehand; however, beauty and skincare purchases tend to be considered more carefully.

AR presents an opportunity to transform the benefits of the in-store ‘tester’ into a virtual experience. Several brand apps have ‘AR mirror’ features that enable users to virtually see themselves wearing every shade of eyeshadow or the effect of a particular mascara before making a decision. Stepping outdoors is superfluous. A new look is merely a swipe away.

The current crisis is presenting unprecedented challenges to the beauty and skincare industries. Nevertheless, tech offers solutions that can support brands to stay connected and relevant to customers through the immediate danger and into the future as the lasting-impact of changes in the customer-brand relationship is felt.

David Heath is CEO of East Kilbride firm Cutitronics, which develops technology for the beauty industry