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Want a pandemic-friendly make-up? There is an AR solution for that.

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Unique high-five services found in beauty stores such as concealer, eyeshadow, and lipstick are emptied to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the surface.

But like last year, customers can still buy and try makeup. But the true pandemic method is done via mobile devices, thanks to augmented reality features.

“The use of AI and AR in cosmetology has suddenly become a much more relevant topic,” said Marjolein Jonker, manager of consumer practices at global strategy and management consulting firm Kearney. Now that brands have increased their online penetration, she said they need to rethink how they approach consumer engagement.

The persistent threat of the virus has changed the face of the beauty industry. As consumers spent more time at home and restricted social gatherings, their willingness to put on makeup diminished.

Ulta’s third-quarter net sales were down 7.8% to $ 1.6 billion. The company still exceeds FactSet’s expectations for adjusted profits, despite a shortage of sales. Like many retailers, Ulta has increased online comps by 90% and e-commerce.

Change the purpose of the beauty filter

For years, consumers have been using cosmetology filters on Snapchat and other media platforms for entertainment purposes. However, because of the virus, companies are beginning to focus on “try-on” technology that allows users to see what a product will look like before making a purchase, showing an opportunity. For beauty retailers to accelerate recovery.

“Even pre-COVID cosmetics have already diminished. Historically, we’ve always seen a cycle of cosmetics falling and then returning,” said John Carr. “I’m looking forward to the third and fourth quarters of this year, and I think makeup will rekindle. It’s going to be like a makeup renaissance.”

The use of these new technologies has become prominent, but some consumers and businesses have been slow to adapt. A recent Euromonitor digital consumer survey found that about 20.1% of consumers used AR or VR to try make-up in 2020.

Euromonitor also asked industry experts why they weren’t investing in technologies like AR and AI, said Michelle Evans, senior head of digital consumers at Euromonitor International. “The biggest reason to come back every time over the 12 reasons we give them [is there’s] There are no clear business use cases. “

Still, more and more companies are launching products that take advantage of the use of AR. Google, Pinterest, and Snapchat have created their own tools or partnered with fitting technology specialists such as Perfect Corp. and ModiFace to allow consumers to virtually test their makeup.

What to expect in the future

Cosmetology companies have been testing the idea of ​​using AR solutions in stores instead of product testers to make the test more hygienic. Sephora released Augmented Reality Mirror in 2014 and has been adding AR capabilities to its virtual artist app for many years.

Virtual fitting tools have evolved over the years. For example, beauty technology solution provider and YouCam app developer Perfect Corp. has a new feature that detects over 12 skin problems, uses AI to simulate aging, and provides one-on-one beauty counseling. Developed.

“The first point we started with was to solve consumer problems that the product solves, even before COVID,” says Perfect Corp. Adam Gam, US Chief Marketing Officer, told Retail Dive. “We were early on seeing concerns about in-store product testers and samplers, and the hygiene issues that arise from them.”

According to Gum, PerfectCorp across different versions of the app and clients of business-to-business transactions. Has over 300 global brand partners. The app also allows users to find matches for foundations, hair colors, lipsticks and other products.

“When COVID first hit the United States last March, virtual try-on on YouCam Makeup public apps increased by 32%,” Gam said. “We also came up with a solution if someone goes to the store and doesn’t want to touch a kiosk that basically allows them to move from one product to another using voice activation, hand gestures, etc.”

Tatiana Perim, a partner in Kearney’s consumer practices, states that cosmetics have always been a more empirical area of ​​retail. Without widespread distribution of vaccines, the brand is now trying to find a sweet spot between technology and human connections, she said.

“Before COVID, skin care is always [had] It has a higher certified online penetration rate than make-up, “Perim said. It is a place to actually play with various products and shades. “

“I think every brand now recognizes technological innovations that are as important as product innovations.”

Tatiana Perim

Partner, Kearney

According to experts, the sales conversion rate of AR fitting tools has not yet been proven on a large scale. Still, experts agree that technology is generally a valuable investment for beauty brands as traditional business models are changing.

“I think every brand recognizes innovations that are as important as product innovations, and some brands are rethinking their organizations to be able to do so effectively.” Mr. Perim said. In the future, technological innovation could be “raised to the same level as research and development,” she said.

Brands may be leveraging AR capabilities for marketing purposes. To use AR as a way to attract new customers, attract attention, and educate consumers about what the tool can do.

She said AR features will advance in the future and consumers may soon normalize their use, but make-up testers in the store may not disappear altogether.

“Consumers will want to discover and continue to experience the in-store environment, but I think there are groups of consumers who are far more open to the use of technology,” John Carr said. “I think it’s a balance and I think brands have to think about both.”

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