M·A·C (Make-up Art Cosmetics), a leading brand of professional cosmetics, is part of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. M·A·C is sold in over 130 countries around the world. It remains committed to developing new categories, products and over 50 collections each year, all of which continue to serve the demand of consumers and professional makeup artists alike.
The company was founded in Toronto, Canada in 1984 and quickly rose to fame through word-of-mouth endorsement by industry professionals. The brand's founding credo continues to drive its operation globally: All Ages, All Races, All Genders. Today, M∙A∙C products are loved worldwide and sold in over 130 countries. M·A·C's Canadian roots remain strong with many of the brand's best-selling products still manufactured in Toronto to this day, such as M∙A∙C Lipstick, M∙A∙C Lipglass and M∙A∙C Studio Fix Fluid Foundation. M∙A∙C has placed social responsibility at the heart and soul of its culture since its inception, with programs such as VIVA GLAM, which has raised over $500M worldwide for the fight against HIV/AIDS, as well as promoting healthy futures and equal rights for women and girls and the LGBTQIA+ community.
When Sonia Anand, Executive Director, Global Digital Retail Innovation, at M·A·C Cosmetics, came to the company five years ago, one of her first initiatives was to dive into the world of beauty tech to find the best provider of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) for virtual try-on experiences.
M·A·C provides captivating virtual try-on experiences.
M·A·C Cosmetics chose Perfect Corp. and the Perfect Corp. AR platform. Perfect Corp. combines powerful AI with its industry-leading AR to provide stunningly lifelike results.Choosing to go with Perfect Corp. was an easy decision to make.
“Part of my job was to make sure we were choosing the best provider of AI and AR,” Anand says. “We did our due diligence and found Perfect Corp provides the most robust and fullest suite of products that really caters to our brand portfolio.”
Part of the analysis involved finding an AI/AR provider who could provide stunningly lifelike experiences across the spectrum of M·A·C Cosmetics users.
“Our founding mantra at M·A·C is: All Ages, All Races, All Genders,” Anand says. “This means we needed AI and AR that could seamlessly adapt to different skin tones and face shapes. We require the same sense of inclusivity with our technology that we embrace in our products. Perfect Corp. is able to do this.”
With makeup artists part of the DNA of M·A·C Cosmetics, the company wanted to ensure its AI/AR provider met their demanding needs.
“In addition to providing an inclusive tool, Perfect Corp. makes sure that we are providing the easiest editing tools for our artists to review these products and to sign off on all the colors and all of the shade matching,” Anand says. “That is critically important to us. We wouldn't publish a tool where we weren't getting that accuracy level. Their technological excellence made Perfect Corp. and YouCam a great match for M·A·C.”
The company has deployed Perfect Corp. technology to meet its needs in a number of ways, including:
Recently the company opened its M·A·C Innovation Lab in Queens Center, Queens, New York, to join its first Innovation Lab, which opened two years earlier in Shanghai.
“Our store was built around digital engagement, with VTO being the centerpiece of that,” Anand says. “With our new innovation lab, we'll continue putting new experiences in there, testing it out with consumers, and seeing what they like, what they dislike. I think identifying dislikes is equally important as finding what consumers like. This helps us identify trends and fine tune our offerings.”
Precision AR creates “mind boggling” VTO experiences.
M·A·C Cosmetics has enjoyed a number of benefits since deploying the Perfect Corp. shade-matching and virtual try-on technology, including:
The AI-powered augmented reality of Perfect Corp. technology, coupled with the precision expertise of M·A·C makeup artists, has created exactly the beauty tech platform that M·A·C had sought.
“Our goal in deploying these new AI and AR technologies and experiences has always been focused on removing any friction for the consumer,” Anand says. “Traditionally, the downside of online purchases has been uncertainty about how a product would actually look. With our AI/AR-powered virtual try-on, that uncertainty is gone. The consumer can see exactly how each of our products will look on them, which has really opened the door for increased engagement and conversion.”
The VTO experience is so lifelike that Anand describes it as an “immersive customer experience.”
“When visiting our stores, one of my favorite things to do is to watch as one of our customers stands in front of a virtual try-on,” Anand says. “You can see them experimenting with colors that perhaps they would have never tried. They might be wearing a nude lipstick (which is a personal favorite of mine) but then click on a punchy red, and they smile because they see they see a color look good on them, that they never would have tried before. Virtual try-on gives people the freedom to explore. They can literally try on hundreds of different products within minutes—something that would be completely impossible to do in the physical world. That’s part of the magic of what our VTO provides.”
Social media loves M·A·C virtual try-on.
M·A·C Cosmetics uses an omni-channel approach to ensure that its virtual try-on experiences are available from whichever direction their customers might enter—whether online, in-store, or from social media.
“The reality is our consumer is fast moving, fast changing, and he/she/they want to make sure that their beauty experience meets their connected journeys across all of the different social networks and platforms,” Anand says. “Something we recognized super early on, was that beauty is evolving, and we really saw that intersection coming with AI and AR and specifically virtual try-on capabilities. It's about making sure our customers have all the tools they need to evaluate their beauty purchases and to feel their best.”
M·A·C plans to continue meeting their customers wherever they might be—now and in the future.
“Our customers change how they're communicating and how they're engaging with each other and with brands,” Anand says. “We are covering all the places our consumer engages with us. And as new touch points come up, we'll continue to follow suit and make sure that we're represented wherever the customer is shopping.”
Stunning colors to try on … virtually.
Great Technology: “You Can See Texture, Shine, and Glitter … Mind Boggling How Accurate the Augmented Reality Is”
M·A·C Cosmetics knows it is providing an exceptional AI/AR virtual try-on experience to its consumers—because M·A·C employees, including their legendary makeup artists, are continually amazed by the experience.
“With YouCam, Perfect Corp. has really perfected the virtual try-on technology to such an extent that you can see the texture, the shine, and the glitter in a product,” Anand says. “We test everything and it's always mind-boggling how accurate the AR is.”
M·A·C continues to make sure its VTO experiences precisely match with reality. “Early in our virtual try-on adventure, I would block out two days on my calendar to sit in a conference room and physically try on every lipstick on half of my lips, and then I would use the other half to compare, using the YouCam matching tool,” Anand says. “This is one of my favorite things to do—seeing how precise the AR is. We still do this today. We literally sit there and color match every single shade that goes into the tool. And we are still amazed by the realism.”
Latest Addition: Virtual Shade Finder for Foundation “Customers Love It”
M·A·C Cosmetics recently introduced its Virtual Shade Finder for Foundation, which it developed with Perfect Corp., and which has been an immediate hit with its customers.
“Our customers love it,” Anand says. “Customers are really loving the fact they can use a simple tool to scan their face and get a color match. It's a great way for our consumers to gain confidence in their foundation choice. They can see exactly how each foundation will look on their own face.”
There is plenty of science behind the shade-finding tool.
“We do scientific accuracy testing for the foundation Shade Matching technology at a corporate testing facility,” Anand says. “Prior to introducing a new release, we leverage the testing team to analyze across a range of skin tones to make sure we're staying true to our promise of being there for: All Ages, All Races, All Genders.”
200% Increase in Customer Engagement in the First Month and “Strong Conversion”
M·A·C Cosmetics knew its efforts had paid off when it launched its Virtual Shade Finder for Foundation at its Innovation Lab store at Queens Center.
“We already had strong digital engagement in our other stores,” Anand says. “But within the first month of launching our digital tools in our Queens Center store, we saw a 200% increase in customer engagement, compared to the average. This is why we continue to invest in our partnership with Perfect Corp., to create new experiences that our customers will value.”
“We’ve always seen strong customer engagement with our virtual try-on experiences—online and in our stores,” Anand says. “We’ve also found that strong customer engagement leads to significantly higher rates of conversion. Engaged customers purchase more.”
Trying On Full Makeup Looks Virtually – Popular with Customers, and Makeup Artists
One of the innovations M·A·C Cosmetics has brought to virtual try-on is the concept of Full Looks, which lets consumers apply different looks—from eyes, to lips, to foundation—with just the tap of a button.
A further innovation is that M·A·C allows its customers to dial up or dial down each of the looks, to better fit personal preferences.
The Full Looks also provide a great starting point for its makeup artists when working with a customer who isn’t sure just what they would like to try.
Our artists are super enthused with the Full Looks technology, using it as a tool to narrow down truly what a customer wants,” Anand says. “An artist is able to go through 15 or so different looks and say, which one do you think suits you? And the magic is that the person is seeing each of the looks on their own face. It is a great consultative tool. And, of course, consumers can also do all of this from home, or whenever they want to open their smartphone and explore.”
Embraced by Social Media: “Virtual Try-On Adds to the Level of Fun”
M·A·C Cosmetics has always had a strong following across social media, and a star-filled list of enthusiastic influencers. All of this adds to the sense of fun that should be part of shopping for beauty products.
“Our virtual try-on tool gives everyone the ability to capture a photo of their look,” Anand says. “We love to see photos on social media where someone has gone online, or to one of our stores and shared an image from their exploration. At the end of the day, beauty should be all about fun. We are delighted to see our customers having fun when they interact with our virtual try-on. We definitely see great feedback from customers in this way.”
After years of working with VTO technology, the fun remains. “I can testify to the fun element,” Anand says. “I have cousins that I do virtual try- on with. I’ll sit with my two-year-old son and flip through different try-ons. It is an immersive, captivating experience that everyone seems to enjoy.”
Perfect Corp: A Great Beauty Tech Partner
M·A·C Cosmetics has found Perfect Corp. to be a great partner to work with because both companies are focused on providing excellence, while continually searching for new ways to serve their customers.
“We are always working closely with Perfect Corp. to develop new tools and capabilities,” Anand says. “And we are also doubling down in what we have and making sure that we have the full assortment of our foundations, and full assortment of our lip colors available for all our consumers.”
Anand appreciates how the tight working relationship allows M·A·C to add different ways to filter and to respond to development of new trends.
“The demand for virtual try-on and shade finder experiences will continue to grow,” Anand says. “People want these tools. Perfect Corp. has made sure we’re achieving the level of accuracy and trust that is essential to meeting the needs and desires of our consumers enjoying our virtual try-on tools.”
About Perfect Corp.
With over 900 Million downloads globally, Perfect Corporation is dedicated to transforming how consumers, content creators and beauty brands interact together through advanced AI and AR technologies. Our experienced team of engineers and beauty aficionados are pushing the frontiers of technology to create the beauty platform of the future—a fluid environment where individuals express themselves, learn the latest about fashion and beauty, and enjoy instant access to the products from their favorite brands. Further information about Perfect Corp.can be found at perfectcorp.com.