The Impact of Device and Digital Combinations on Health and Wellness

This paper was written by Dr David Heath in December 2018 and published in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists AGM programme.


There are two perspectives from which we should consider the impact of device and digital combos in our industry; the brand perspective and the consumer perspective.  From the brand perspective, how will industry 4.0 evolve in the cosmetics industry and how can brands remain relevant 10 years from now?  From the consumer perspective, how can device and digital combos lead to improvements in consumer benefits?


The intersection of data and self-improvement.

Quantified self (QS) is the act of using personal data to improve one’s quality of life.  In this definition of quantified self, there is both the collection of personal data to inform, but importantly there is also action on that data leading to improved progress towards a goal.  This is a growing consumer trend that has powerfully impacted other consumer areas such as the fitness and wellness industries.

This trend is now transferring into the cosmetics industry, but full benefit from these technologies has yet to be realised. This may be because device technologies are often designed in isolation from the formulation, which rarely leads to optimal consumer benefit.  There are learnings we can transfer from other industries as we seek to implement best practice in our own industry.


Device, digital and formulation best practice from healthcare.

The medical health industry is an excellent example of where devices and digital technologies have been adopted to work alongside drug formulation to holistically meet the common objective of supporting optimal patient outcomes. Everyday examples of this include drug-eluting stents for management of cardiovascular disease and device technology to support patients in managing diabetes.  Management of diabetes has now harnessed technology to automatically measure blood glucose and dispense the correct level of insulin personalized to the patient for optimal outcome using automated closed-loop control.  This approach unburdens the patient, addressing behavioural factors such as poor compliance as well as automatically adapting to the real-time needs of the patient.  This provides an excellent, and transferable, example of device and digital combos working in conjunction with formulations to support optimized outcomes for the user.

Using this example as a model, we can map this approach to similar challenges in our own industry such as supporting consumers to optimally achieve and perceive product results that have been confirmed through clinical trials.


Re-creating clinical trial results in the home and the benefits of automated consumer feedback.

When product efficacy is established in a clinical trial environment, volunteers are often assessed in a distraction-free environment, with assistance in product use protocol.  Data is carefully recorded and dedicated technology is used to provide assessment and feedback.  This environment differs enormously to a home environment, where distractions and lack of assistance lead to poor consumer compliance.  There is also no direct feedback from the home to close the information loop.  Therefore, should we expect the consumer to achieve the same results in the same time frame, at home, as they do under a clinical trial environment?

The scientific rigour of a clinical trial protocol can be recreated in a home environment, with automation and information shifting the burden of responsibility from the consumer to the technology and increasing the probability of the consumer achieving the expected results.  As in the case of diabetes management described above, automated product dispense can now control, not just formulation concentration, but dosage, supporting proper use. Data can be collected automatically including information on behavioural factors, such as compliance, real-time variables, such as environmental or physiological factors, which in turn can be fed back to the user to support education and motivation.

How can we abstract these principles as a guide to design for optimized user benefit and continuous product relevance over time?


Creating the virtuous cycle of consumer product benefit with device and digital combos.

Device and digital combos can be employed to create a virtuous cycle of consumer product benefit through information gathered from the consumer and influence provided to the consumer.  There is a need for both subjective and objective approaches.  This is illustrated below in Figure 1.


  • Here we see the consumer entered into the cycle through automation (Infl. x Obj.).  This can include automation of monotonous tasks, detailed activities, expertise not presently held by the consumer or information gathering.
  • Recording this automation leads to objective data gathering (Info. x Obj.).
  • This objective information can then influence subjective opinion (Info. x Subj.) leading to an influence of consumer behaviour through motivation and education (Infl. x Subj.), which in turn reinforces the use of automation and information gathering.

In our industry, the result or goal is principally achieved through the product formulation, but the cycle is made possible through the integration of device and digital combos to support the achievement of that goal.

This is a multi-sided cycle.  From a brand perspective the impact of support can be monitored through objective measurement (Info. x Obj.), consumer perception (Info. x Subj.) allowing adaptive and personalized improvements in education (Infl. x Subj.) flowing through to improved support (Infl. x Obj.).  Alternatively, from a formulation perspective, the user can be directly supported in how to use the formulation correctly, the objective (Info. x Obj.) and subjective (Info. x Subj.) impact of the formulation can be measured, this leads to education (Infl. x Subj.) and in turn, improvement in formulation or support (Infl. x Obj.).

The virtuous cycle of consumer product benefit and the virtuous cycle of consumer product loyalty are two faces of a multi-sided platform that, when in sync, can lead to measurable harmony between consumer and brand.



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