Gartner predicts that by 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality. In just a few years’ time, VR and AR may be as common and familiar as mobiles are today.
The beauty industry is experimenting with augmented reality in truly interesting ways. It’s fascinating that different brands like L’Oreal, Sephora and other lesser known ones are investing in developing AR apps. They’re aiming to personalize their offer, become better equipped to listen to their increasingly demanding customers, and collect data that can be used to develop future products. Or is it just a way to position themselves as innovative and avant garde?
In any case, developing products with AR technology takes no small amount of investment and requires know-how well beyond simple marketing skills. But a quick glimpse of the market data clearly shows how much opportunity the sector offers: on average, women spend $3700 a year on beauty products.
Customers that want to test products in real time
It’s also worth considering how consumers have changed. Besides being extra attentive to a brand’s aesthetics and reputation, both women and men now trust non-traditional channels to choose their beauty products. Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO of Estée Lauder, believes this is a generational change:
“The younger generations are defining the culture with images of self-expression. They take more pictures in a day on average than their parents took in a year.”
To respond to the needs of these new consumers, the beauty industry is investing in research, experiments and acquisitions. It’s clear that something is brewing in the industry, and brands know that they can’t stand still.
Beauty brands eye up AR apps
Not even market leading brands can rest easy. In fact, L’Oreal has decided to ride the innovation wave by acquiring a startup. Modiface, a leading Canadian company in augmented reality and artificial intelligence as applied to the beauty industry, has developed advanced technology for 3D virtual makeup as well as personalized solutions for diagnosing skin problems. Many large brands like L’Oreal, Maybelline, Yves Rocher, Smashbox, CoverGirl and Rimmel London are offering their customers apps that use AR to give every single user access to real-time solutions. The goal of developing these products is certainly educational, because they will provide additional information about the product. And it’s an opportunity for storytelling to enrich the product’s points of strength. Customization becomes the central focal point. Try it out and we’ll give you suggestions so you can choose!
Plenty of augmented reality apps: have your pick
There are lots of interesting case studies, but one I find especially striking is the ManiMatch app with advice from guru Sally Hansen. You can try different colors on your nails, add a shining effect, and the app can suggest the color most suitable for your skin. L’Oreal has created the YouCam Makeup app, which you can use not only to test out different looks, but also do a detailed analysis of your skin and to get information on treating blemishes and wrinkles. We tested out the app from Benefit Cosmetics, a brand I adore for its amazing quality and appealing communication, as well as its innovative, trendy style. They’ve done a great job creating a unique web experience through Brow Try-On, a tool that doesn’t require an app. It gives you an online experience that’s completely tailored to your needs. Turn on the camera and you can try out different types, colors, cuts and shapes for your eyebrows. All of these solutions become a unique opportunity for engagement and communication, and offer the ability to respond in real-time with super-personalized solutions. The challenge continues, but the difference will be made by whoever can ride the innovation wave and take advantage of the change.
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