Estée Lauder and Microsoft partner to help beauty brands use generative AI

2024/04/26 Innoverview Read

Beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) and Microsoft are announcing a new collaboration, building on their existing strategic relationship. The two companies have launched the AI Innovation Lab, a virtual program in which Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service will help develop ways for ELC’s portfolio of more than 20 brands to leverage generative AI.

“Generative AI represents a significant opportunity for the beauty industry — creating more engaging customer experiences, getting products into the hands of consumers faster, developing new products more efficiently and sustainably, and much more,” Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Global Industry Solutions Shelly Bransten says in a statement.”

Two areas of focus

One area where ELC and Microsoft want to use gen AI involves finding new ways to respond faster to social trends and consumer demands. The two companies have developed an internal chatbot using Azure OpenAI Services to help teams navigate and leverage ELC’s product database and claim data. In doing so, ELC’s brands can launch locally relevant campaigns faster than before. Such a tool likely streamlines the effort needed to execute a marketing campaign. Now, teams only need to type in their query to pull up information from what counterparts in other regions have done and then replicate it.

Another area is accelerating product innovation. ELC said its research and development teams are using gen AI to better and faster understand emerging product and ingredient trends. Instead of scouring through literature, scientists can run a query within Microsoft’s software to identify possible solutions they should develop and bring to market.

ELC states, “the AI Innovation Lab will focus on leveraging and creating tools powered by AI to further power ELC’s connection with consumers and bring products and high-touch experiences to market faster and in the most locally relevant way.”

Estée Lauder no stranger to AI

While AI may be new for some organizations, ELC is familiar with the technology. A company spokesperson told VentureBeat it has an internal task force dedicated to leading the business through the AI transformation, overseeing gen AI’s governance, and ensuring AI is being used ethically and responsibly. In 2023, ELC hosted its so-called Ideathon in which employees pitched AI-powered solutions that could “potentially deliver positive impact and value” to the business, its team and customers. Finally, using Microsoft’s Azure AI, ELC launched a mobile-based voice-enabled makeup assistant aimed at helping visually impaired users apply makeup.

And Microsoft isn’t the only tech company ELC works with on gen AI. Last summer, Estée Lauder announced a collaboration with Google Cloud. Under that arrangement, Google’s gen AI capabilities would handle real-time consumer sentiment and feedback monitoring. In addition, business applications would be developed on Google’s Vertex AI platform, and ELC would use the PaLM 2 LLM.

Estée Lauder declined to comment on the status of its Google Cloud relationship. However, the difference between the two partnerships appears to be centered on the use case. With Google Cloud, the company wants to develop customized targeting and go-to-market strategies. But with Microsoft, it’s about using gen AI to enhance its internal processes and build better customer relationships.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to share the financial terms of this partnership.

(Copyright:VentureBeat Estée Lauder and Microsoft team up to change beauty with gen AI | VentureBeat)