Mobile beauty is a growing millennial mindshare changing how leading and indie luxury fashion brands are reaching makeup mavens looking to discover new products and looks.
As purchase and consumption habits evolve, so does the journey, and augmented reality is increasingly playing a larger role throughout a beauty brand’s core e-commerce strategies with its unobtrusive informational overlay to help drive conversions.
Looking for a new lipstick? AR is instantly adding true-to-life virtual tools to create individual looks for each user without having to sit in a chair at a brick-and-mortar. The omni-channel experience adds a strong social component allowing users to interact with each other through highly engaged communities.
One such leading app in the beauty sector is YouCam Makeup, which offers realistic “magic mirror” facial recognition that maps a user’s facial features so they can experience true-to-life makeup effects and virtually try on products from brands in real-time.
YouCam Makeup partnered with Elizabeth Arden last year to create a digital beauty experience that integrated a selection of Elizabeth Arden’s color cosmetics within its virtual makeover interface, with the option for direct purchase from the cosmetics company.
And it’s not only Elizabeth Arden aligning forces with partners like YouCam Makeup to seamlessly merge the real world with an animated one.
Sephora, L’Oréal Paris and CoverGirl are just some of the major key players in a space that is growing by the day. According to a Demandware study, 72 percent of US beauty brands are testing a form of “guided selling” to push sales, like Snapchat lenses and AR.
Alice H. Chang, CEO of Perfect Corp., the parent company of YouCam Makeup, joined [a]listdaily to discuss how they’re reinventing the traditional online cosmetic shopping experience and how they’re transforming how consumers, content creators and beauty brands interact together.
How does YouCam Makeup leverage AR in innovative ways to reach consumers?
In the future, we imagine that AR will be incorporated into all elements of the beauty journey, and virtual makeup try-ons are just the beginning. While it’s a long road to bring AR to its full potential, including developments in 3D beauty AR, we are committed to delivering the most true-to-life experience that is both natural and realistic. To give you an idea of the possibilities, we’re preparing to introduce a complete overhaul to our engine that will make it literally impossible to distinguish AR from reality, utilizing real-time video. We’re also interested in applying AR to skin care and continuing to push the barriers for more sophisticated color cosmetic effects. In the future, we see a democratizing of beauty as AR becomes an essential piece of the digital lifestyle and social identity.
How was YouCam Makeup’s activation received at the Golden Globes this year? What data can you share from the experience?
YouCam’s Golden Globes activity marked the first time YouCam ever released Golden Globes red carpet looks in real-time. By collaborating with InStyle’s editors to define the trending styles of the night, we were able to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience for our fans—allowing them to virtually try on beauty looks from stars like Chrissy Teigen, Kerry Washington and Lily Collins the morning after the event. We’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback on this interactive content from the media and social media as well as in the apps with over 886,000 try-ons to date globally.
How did Perfect Corp. take part in the CES Fashion Tech Runway Show? What was your main takeaway from the show?
YouCam participated in the first-ever AR fashion show at CES BeautyTech in Las Vegas earlier this year. We showcased our unique virtual beauty looks on the runway by having models walk down the runway toward a YouCam Makeup kiosk in place at the end of the runway. Once at the kiosk, each model looked right into the makeup mirror and the model’s face with a complete makeup look was virtually projected through the app on a large screen above the runway. This made it possible for all to see the 3D AR technology live in real-time. Models’ looks were applied and changed quickly in real-time. Each model had four different looks in just eight seconds using the AR technology. This first of its kind high-fashion-meets-high-tech moment transforms the traditional catwalk experience by adding a whole new level of creativity and interactivity.
What is YouCam Makeup’s integrated marketing strategy for reaching your reported 370 million fans who’ve downloaded the app?
Our teams work tirelessly to identify and integrate the most innovative trending content into the YouCam Makeup app (iOS; Android), delivering a complete beauty experience for our users—discover, try, share and buy. From coding in the latest line of MAC lipstick shades to the red carpet unveiling, Halloween or fashion week exclusive beauty content and working with the hottest make-up artists, we keep a close reign on the latest and greatest to keep things fresh. Our multi-tiered strategy focuses on shared, earned and owned marketing efforts integrating our cosmetic brand partners and tier-one media outlets like InStyle, Glamour and many others.
Why has influencer marketing turned into a perfect pairing with fashion?
With the maturing of the millennial and Gen-Z audiences, influencers are stepping into the forefront since these younger user groups are much more inclined to trust feedback from influencers than from brands or traditional media outlets. We believe that authentic influencer voices create truly engaging experiences for our community of beauty lovers. YouCam works very closely with influencers in our apps since they are the ones defining the next big trends. Partnerships like our 2016 Fashion Week collaboration with Glamour showcased content from the runway defined by influencers and by select fashion world elite to give our audience the best of both worlds.
Why is it a smart move for luxury fashion brands to go big on AR?
As news headlines show more physical stores closing their doors, we believe integrating innovative mobile solutions—going brick-and-mobile—is one way for fashion and beauty brands to stay competitive. Mobile solutions such as in-store AR kiosks can help bridge the gap between digital and physical commerce by facilitating the discovery and product trial by alleviating obstacles of in-store shopping. Luxury brands should leverage the benefits of AR but know that not all AR experiences are born equal. With any digital adoption, the brands need to be very selective and bring real value to consumers, or else it is simply a gimmick. In the increasingly AR-driven world, the AR technology must be as close to the real thing as possible or it won’t meet the consumers’ expectations. AR must also be easy to use so that they don’t feel like they need a user manual to operate it. For beauty AR, it should be as effortless as looking in the mirror or taking a picture, and thus accessible to everyone with a smartphone.
What is on top of your marketing “hot list” this year? What emerging trends are you zeroing on in order to explore and innovate the brand? Is there a new product or service that you think will influence decisions?
AR and 3D are definitely at the top of our list and continue to redefine the industry from a content and e-commerce perspective. The release of a new 3D AR engine into our apps will be a huge deal because the power of next generation 3D modeling is so accurate you can try on hairstyles and intricate costume makeup that surrounds your whole head. The level of precision and fidelity of the new 3D AR tool will completely transform how the beauty industry uses mobile technologies to engage and interact with consumers across virtual channels, including e-commerce, social media and live casting, and even in brick-and-mortar stores with dedicated ‘magic mirrors.’ Next time you shop, don’t be surprised to see AR already on your screen.
How is AR changing the way consumers use mobile? How do you think mobile AR will further evolve in 2017?
AR is changing the way people shop and is making brands accessible to more people in more ways than ever before. People are interacting and engaging differently with a greater variety of products and experimenting with new styles, so that finding exactly what they’re looking for is easier than ever. YouCam Makeup has completely changed the way people can try and purchase makeup. Through visual recognition and the most accurate facial mapping, YouCam Makeup gives a true-to-life virtual makeover anytime, anywhere. Gone are the days where you go to a store, try on several questionably clean samples, buy a lipstick and take it home only to find out that it’s not the right shade. People can try on lipstick from top beauty brands in the comfort of their own home. When it comes time to purchase, they know exactly what it will look like. Looking forward to the future of beauty AR, new developments will bring about more sophisticated ways to enhance beauty with intricate effects and creative applications.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan