Allure magazine, published by Condé Nast, is famous for the exhaustive year-long research it puts into its annual Best of Beauty Awards, and for the power that red seal carries with its readers.
From its very inception more than 30 years ago, Allure has been dedicated to giving its readers empowering experiences and cutting-edge reporting from the world of beauty and beyond.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Allure editors decided to offer their readers a journey into augmented reality (AR)—to help them escape from their pandemic-induced homebound existence. “All Done Up with Nowhere to Go” was the headline for Allure Editor in Chief Michelle Lee’s introduction to the November 2020 issue of the magazine.
“The fun, interactive, in-person part of beauty shopping—swatching, smearing, and spritzing in stores—has been put on hold indefinitely,” Lee wrote. “So we set out on a mission while developing the November issue of the print magazine: How could we bring the experience of the beauty store into your home?”The answer was to use their November issue as a portal into AR experiences with QR codes to virtual try-on, but the challenge was finding a technology partner that could create AR so real that readers would be swept away.
Allure editors chose Perfect Corp., the leading beauty tech solutions provider, and decided to integrate their try-on experience within the award-winning YouCam Makeup app. Perfect Corp. combines powerful artificial intelligence (AI) with its industry-leading AR to provide stunningly lifelike results. The YouCam Makeup app is powered by this groundbreaking beauty tech, and has an extensive beauty-obsessed user base of over 900 million global downloads. The choice was easy because Allure editors were already familiar with YouCam and their true-to-life results.
“A diverse range of our editors had trialed different AR providers, testing the technology, trying out different looks and different colors on different skin types, and they felt like Perfect Corp. with its YouCam Makeup app was the best partnership for us to pursue,” says Toni, Senior Director, Brand Marketing, Allure. “We felt Perfect Corp. had the platform that provided the most realistic look. It shows what makeup actually looks like on real people—from lipstick, to blush, to eye shadow.”
Once the decision was made, things had to happen fast, and Allure editors were impressed with how Perfect Corp. worked closely with them to help achieve their vision for the November issue. Readers would scan a QR code from the magazine, to download the free YouCam Makeup app, and take readers to a special Allure section of the app.
“We had very little time, and we needed to make sure that all of the looks that we used and all of the products we featured would be available for virtual try-on from YouCam,” says Jessica Cruel, Content Director at Allure. “The Perfect Corp. team was very accommodating with that. We were kind of creating our print issue at the same time as we were getting ideas together for the YouCam inspiration. And with print, things are constantly changing, so we really appreciated the help Perfect Corp. provided in integrating YouCam into our November issue.”Allure’s stunning November issue bridged the gap between print and augmented reality.
Allure has several benefits from incorporating the AI-powered AR of Perfect Corp. into its print magazine experience, including:
The editors of Allure hit a homerun with their readers by building their November issue around the fun and adventure of virtual try-ons with leading-edge AI-powered AR.“We were blown away by the number of try-ons,” Nicolino says. “We really didn’t know what to expect. We had no idea how many of our readers would actually go to YouCam to try on the looks that we presented. So it was a huge surprise to see more than 6.5 million virtual try-ons. Everyone was very impressed with the results. Seeing our readers embrace virtual try-on in such huge numbers was very exciting.
“From a sales perspective, I think one of our biggest benefits was the ability to bring our partners an idea that extended beyond the print page,” Nicolino says. “The struggle has long been: How to make print feel more exciting at a time when people are stuck at home and they're in front of their phones or computer versus going to a store to buy a magazine. Integrating our print issue with YouCam allowed us to bridge that gap nicely. We gave our readers the ability to virtually leave their home and participate in real-world experiences that they missed, like trying on makeup, with the ability to seamlessly buy whatever they liked.”Camille Darby, Executive Director, Brand Marketing, Allure, agrees. “We presented the results to one of our partners—a high-end national retailer—and they were super impressed by how the readers reacted to the ability to try on products virtually. The results were very well received.”
The bridge Allure created between print and digital is a two-way bridge. While Allure readers used the magazine as a portal into the virtual world of AR-powered try-on, YouCam users were also exposed to the power and creativity of Allure magazine.
“Our presence on YouCam provided a great opportunity for people who haven’t yet discovered Allure magazine to see some of the very artistic things that we're doing in creating looks, and to get a sense of the product service that we provide our readers,” Cruel says. “So YouCam is opening up the door to the next generation of Allure readers.”Nicolino agrees. “We don’t know how many of the millions of try-ons we saw came from YouCam users who in the process of exploring discovered Allure,” Nicolino says. “YouCam provides a fresh and exciting way for a new generation of readers to discover Allure and all that we do.”
Inspiring and Empowering Readers
Allure has a long history of inspiring and empowering readers. The publication has a stack of prestigious industry and journalism awards, and a contributor’s list that includes such marquee names as Arthur Miller, John Updike, and Kathryn Harrison. Its covers have been graced with superstars such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Helen Mirren, and on and on.
AR is presenting Allure editors with yet another way to offer inspiration and empowerment.“We want to inspire people with the looks that we create,” Cruel says. “But it's sometimes hard for a reader to imagine just how something would actually look on them. They might see something they like in our magazine but think they could never try it. Virtual try-on empowers them. It gives them the chance to see exactly how a creative look or some new makeup will appear on them. They can explore wearing some of our more artistic makeup creations. There is something freeing about this, empowering and inspiring.”
Creating the Future of BeautyAllure sees AR as playing a major part in the future of beauty.
“Our experience with integrating AR into our November issue has helped get the wheels turning even faster on what the future of beauty looks like,” Darby says. “AR melds the old with the new. It allows us to engage in trying on new products, but by doing so with virtual try-on everything is so much easier, faster, cleaner, and really more enjoyable.”