One of the primary reasons the beauty industry has remained at the forefront of global business is its incredible ability to adapt and change based on consumer needs and each generation's unique challenges. The most successful beauty companies are those that have been able to last for decades by keeping a close eye on consumer desires, beauty trends, and new technologies at their disposal.
Over the past two years, there has been a massive paradigm shift in the beauty industry (and in many global industries). Brands all over the world have had to adjust to stay in business during lockdowns and a newly structured post-COVID-19 world. One such brand is NARS Cosmetics. During Perfect Corp.’s 2021 Global Beauty Tech Forum, SVP of Global Marketing and Integrated Communications at NARS Cosmetics Julia Sloane sat down with Shiseido Chief Digital Officer Angelica Munson to discuss how NARS has adapted to this paradigm shift.
Creating the Opportunity for Personalized Beauty with AI + AR Tech
Perfect Corp pioneered the concept of virtual try-on using AI and AR capabilities, and consumers can access these technologies from the convenience of their smartphones. AI and AR tech allow beauty brands to recommend the best products to customers based on their browsing or purchase history, and it will enable customers to try on a huge range of beauty products from the comfort of their couch.
By introducing virtual try-on with Perfect Corp technologies as early as fall 2019, NARS was truly ahead of the curve when it comes to providing a completely personalized virtual experience for beauty consumers. After just two months of providing AR virtual try-on technologies, NARS tracked more than 50,000 engagements and conversion rates that were three times higher than average.
How the NARS Cosmetics Personalized AI Matchmaker Has Achieved Success
NARS has seen particular success with its AI-powered shade finder tool, which the brand has named Matchmaker. This tool was launched in summer 2020 and offers an extremely easy-to-navigate user interface that makes it simple for users to try on different makeup products in a variety of different shades.
According to Julia Sloan, the typical Matchmaker user tries on an average of 27 lip colors during their virtual “visit.” This success can be attributed to several factors, but NARS’s close attention to the customer experience and the incredibly diverse range of shades available are significant reasons why Matchmaker has seen such impressive numbers.
NARS Virtual Store: An Inside Look
NARS launched their first virtual store along with the Shiseido Group in April of 2021, intending to bring the immersive real-life shopping experience to online consumers around the globe. This included featuring actual makeup artists like Katie Jane Hughes on the platform through a live stream to provide NARS customers with personalized makeup tips and recommendations.
As the first virtual store launched by the Shiseido Group, the NARS Virtual Store was a calculated risk. However, this venture was a great success, with average order values increasing by 20% on top of the site’s average. NARS largely attributes this to the success and popularity of live streaming artists on the platform.
Creating Real Connections with Consumers to Drive Growth
Though online methods of connection to customers have been incredibly successful for NARS and other beauty brands, the return to brick-and-mortar shopping in addition to these online outlets has already begun and will only continue to increase. That’s why NARS focused on maintaining a cohesive 360-degree approach to the customer experience.
This means making the customer experience as frictionless and rewarding as possible across all channels of the omni-channel shopping journey. After focusing for so long on AR and AI technologies to better the customer experience, NARS has pivoted slightly to include these touchless solutions in-store. These technologies allow brick-and-mortar customers to feel more comfortable and safe as the world emerges from the pandemic.
The Future of NARS and the Metaverse
In addition to creating a truly seamless experience for customers no matter how they engage with the brand, NARS knows that the metaverse is essential to the future of beauty. Leaning into this emerging trend, NARS is stepping up as one of the first major beauty brands to incorporate virtual reality gaming and beauty NFTs into its branding and marketing.
NARS saw huge success with its first VR game launched through the metaverse in Asia, Zepeto. This game allows customers to create 3D avatars and explore NARS make-up and self-expression in a virtual world.
The company is now turning its attention to Drest, a similar product for Western markets in the US and UK. Drest is a challenge-based game designed around luxury styling that is entirely accessible through mobile phones and uses exclusive NARS products to create a one-of-a-kind experience for users of all ages.
NARS was also one of the first beauty brands to lean into the NFT trend. For this partnership, NARS worked with artists to create a collection of NFTs inspired by the brand’s most iconic product, orgasm blush.
To learn more about how NARS Cosmetics is leveraging AI + AR technology to accelerate digital transformation, watch the full conversation from the Perfect Corp. 2021 Global Beauty Tech Forum here.
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