5 years ago virtual makeup try-ons were a novelty. Something that people were buzzing about just because it was new and fun. Today, new generations of consumers are growing up in a one-click buy culture. And virtual cosmetics apps are commonplace to them.
The world’s biggest beauty brand L’Oréal has been among the pioneers in augmenting the makeup shopping experience. It's now a front-runner that completely reshapes the way we buy cosmetics. Read on to learn how L'Oreal benefits of the beauty AR apps and the trends it sets for the future.
The Beauty Brand Going AR
In March 2018 L’Oréal acquired ModiFace, the provider of augmented reality technology for the cosmetics industry.
The sum of the acquisition has not been disclosed. However, the same year L’Oreal purchased 2 more companies including a hair color brand Pulp Riot and Nanda Co. Ltd., the Korean lifestyle make-up company. The cost of these new acquisitions represents €695.7 million according to L’Oreal’s half-year financial report.
What’s interesting, Modiface is the first fully technological company that L’Oreal has bought within its 109-year (!) history. In the official press release, L’Oréal's Chief Digital Officer Lubomira Rochet calls Modiface “the heart of the company's R&D digital services ”.
"This acquisition provides an incredible opportunity to innovate on beauty augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) at an unprecedented scale, the results of which will shape the beauty industry for the decades to come".
As part of its digital acceleration strategy, L’Oréal aims to power its 34 brands with the most innovative technologies for the beauty AR experience.
Tech Deliverables in Partnership with Modiface
In partnership with Modiface, L’Oreal has launched several 3D virtual make-up tools available via mobile and web. To name but a few.
- Style My Hair mobile app which lets users try on different hairstyles.
- Makeup Genius app to apply preset looks or try specific L'Oreal products in different shades.
- AR Makeup Try-on app for NYX Cosmetics, a subsidiary of L'Oréal.
- Faces of DC Virtual Try-On for the same NYX allowing to try iconic makeup looks via face filters.
- Virtual skin assessment platform deployed on L’Oréal’s Vichy web and mobile sites.
Yet, the most exciting beauty innovations are expected to come. On VivaTech conference in Paris, L’Oreal demoed a range of smart solutions for the salon, retail and bathroom of the future. 80% of the showcased technology was powered by Modiface including:
- Virtual cosmetics try-on that guides users in makeup application and allows to see it live on a user’s face.
- AR mirror to try on makeup in-store and get the best looks recommended based on individual facial features.
- Virtual hair color try-on where consumers can see the result of the hair color before making a salon procedure.
- Smart bathroom mirror that serves as a makeup tutorial and advisor.
- Skin diagnostics app to tailor skin care products to particular needs.
Once Modiface has become a part of L’Oreal’s Digital Service Factory, it will develop new digital services for its brands only. What about the rest? Those who've been using the technology in their apps most likely will have to find another provider.
How Virtual Cosmetics Tools Help L’Oreal Stay Atop
For the world’s leader in beauty, competition is a secondary challenge. The primary one? Maintaining its leadership given the fast-changing consumer buying behavior and mindset.
L’Oreal has placed a bet on the company’s digitalization and augmented reality. Here are the benefits this strategy has brought so far.
Outreach to Millennials
Millennials are quite a different consumer breed. Wondering shelves with hundreds of products and options? Waste of time. In-store makeup try on? A thing of the past.
They trust reviews of friends, vloggers or strangers, not brand’s claims. They are on mobile, online and all into self-expression. Small wonder that market research ranks ‘appeal to millennials’ and ‘strong digital platforms’ among the main reasons for the success of global beauty brands.
L’Oreal addresses this through engagement and interaction on the digital space. Augmented reality brings innovation and ease of shopping right where millennials are — on mobile and social networks.
Partnership with Facebook
In 2018 the company along with ModiFace announced about their partnership with Facebook to deliver augmented reality experiences via Facebook camera based apps. The result of AR beauty going social can be a potential goldmine for L’Oreal. Reasons?
- In June 2016, L’Oreal was among the first brands to launch a sponsored lens on Snapchat that promoted their new Silkissime Eyeliner.
- Facebook has 2.23 billion monthly active users and 1.3 billion and 1 billion on Messenger and Instagram respectively. That’s 10X more than Snapchat can offer what makes Facebook’s outreach far way more appealing.
- With multi-billion Facebook community, L’Oreal can ignite immense visibility for any of its advertising campaigns, products and brand promotions.
- Targeted at specific demographics and delivered via camera right on user’s faces, the ad experience remains personalized and engaging rather than hard-selling.
Will this experience be something we haven’t seen yet? Or the top of mind AR beauty filters e.g. put on lipstick or change your hair color? Time will tell, but one thing is clear.
With L’Oreal’s broad product choice for hair care, hair colour, skin care, and make-up, the sky is the limit when it comes to bringing to life these augmented reality scenarios for virtual product demonstrations.
E-commerce sales increase
In 2017, L’Oreal’s e-commerce sales increased by +34% with online sales exceeding 2 billion euros and making up 25% of sales in a digitally advanced country like China. In 2018, the L’Oreal group’s digital lead in e-commerce is estimated with +36.4% growth and represents 9.5% of global sales.
In China, some of L’Oreal’s brands even reach up to 50% in online purchases.Such rapid and significant growth is backed in a larger extent by recent L’Oreal’s technology innovations including both mobile and web cosmetics and hair color try-ons.
The landscape of Virtual Cosmetics Apps
Apart from L’Oreal, about 75% of beauty brands use augmented reality to change how products are marketed to and tried on by consumers. Among such are Maybelline, Sephora, Taaz, Mary Kay, Estee Lauder to name but a few.
Sephora’s Virtual Tutorial is an AR app that guides users step-by-step in makeover application using their face as the canvas. Olay's Skin Analyzer helps consumers understand their skin condition and advises products based on particular needs.
The global cosmetics market is estimated to reach $675 billion by 2020. Beauty brands will go in and out to have a slice of that pie. Smart apps that analyze your skin daily, keep track of its health and advise on the best makeup outfit is a great way to make consumers stick to a brand.
The Future of Beauty AR Experience
In its exclusive interview for CNBC, L'Oréal CEO and Chairman Jean-Paul Agon, says:
“We really believe that the future of beauty will be digitalized and tech beauty and in this area, we have been really the first to start and we are ahead of the game and for us, it is priority number one. In all aspects - social media, our search, our e-commerce, data, artificial intelligence — we really want to be ahead”.
So far, they are.
L’Oreal has made it clear — the beauty is no longer about cosmetics only but technology too. As the need for personalization increases, more AI-powered tools, apps and platforms will come to life.
Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash
AR mirror will be taken for granted and used not just because it’s cool and something new. But because it’s indeed a more convenient way to find, test and choose cosmetic products that's suit you best. For example, already today the HiMirror provides personalized beauty advice for users based on AI skin analysis.
Realistic mobile AR makeup try-ons
AR makeup try-on needs to provide not only flawless virtual experience. But easily accessible on mobile and in real-time too for users not wasted time with photo uploading. The choice of products will increase too. More products with accurate colours and a variety of textures will be available virtually.
AR makeup training
Brands can introduce new products to beauty advisors with ease through live training. AR try-ons and apps can guide users in makeup application step by step ensuring the professional outcome.
Personalization through technology
We’ll see products and smart devices tailored to our diverse individual factors. Age, gender, ethnicity, geographies, climate, health and wellbeing — these tools will know what suits us even better than we do.
At home, store or in a salon, the AR beauty seamlessly integrates into all places we may come across it. Virtual cosmetics try-on experience is no longer a competitive advantage. It’s a necessity helping beauty brands stay atop — through reaching to millennials, engaging audience on social networks and personalized advertising.
Need AR beauty solution for your brand? Want a customizable AR try-on for your web/e-commerce, mobile, in-store, and messaging apps? We can help.