Benefit Cosmetics is the San Francisco-based makeup brand that believes laughter is the best cosmetic. Founded in 1976 by twin sisters Jean and Jane Ford, the beauty brand has swept the world with one-of-a-kind cult favorite products like Benetint, the POREfessional Face Primer, Hoola Bronzer and Gimme Brow+ that provide instant beauty solutions. With growing prestige beauty brands in the business, Benefit sells at over 5,000 counters in more than 50 countries across 5 continents.
The company’s cosmetics proved so popular that in 1999 it was acquired by LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, the French multinational specializing in luxury goods.
Benefit Cosmetics has been solving brow dilemmas since they opened their boutique back in 1976. Fast forward to today, it has become the brow destination for both product and services operating over 3,000 Brow Bars around the world. Always ahead of the curve, Benefit Cosmetics was early to see the value of using augmented reality (AR) to help its customers experience the different ways in which they could shape their brows—using a no-touch, browser-based experience.
One challenge was that, in the words of Emily Dybwad, Director, Global Digital Marketing, at Benefit Cosmetics, “From an AR standpoint, brows are hard to do because of the precision required to accurately portray hair. Capturing hair with AR is much more demanding than doing lips or blush.”
Benefit Cosmetics searched for the AR solution that could best give their customers a natural and life-like virtual try-on experience. After reviewing its technology options, Benefit Cosmetics chose Perfect Corp.’s YouCam Makeup virtual try-on solution to power its browser-based customer AR experience.
Looking back, Dybwad says it was an easy decision to choose Perfect Corp.
“Perfect Corp. has an outstanding reputation within augmented reality,” Dybwad says. “They were always on our radar, and they've developed what we believe is the industry-leading AR solution for brows.”
The company also valued the opportunity to become part of the YouCam community.
“YouCam is a huge community of beauty lovers and integrates a lot of virtual try-ons and provides a lot of expertise and competencies that Perfect Corp. has developed over the years,” she says. “We were also looking for a long-term partner with the ability to continually help us take the AR experience further for our customers.”
Later, Benefit Cosmetics was impressed when Perfect Corp. brought some of its developer team to their office to work with the company’s eyebrow experts to ensure that the AR captured the intricacies of brow rendering.
The results were impressive. Benefit Cosmetics credits the Perfect Corp. enabled Brow Try-On experience with boosting the time customers spend on its site—as well as their add-to-cart purchases.
Benefit Cosmetics uses Perfect Corp. AR to let customers explore new looks for their brows.
Benefit Cosmetics is providing its Brow Try-On through various channels, including:
- Browser-Based. Dybwad notes that the company wanted to provide its customers with a browser-based experience to match customer desires to access virtual experiences via their smartphones.
- YouCam. Benefit Cosmetics has been delighted with the volume of customers that arrive at their site after experiencing Brow Try-On from the YouCam app.
- Partner Websites. Benefit Cosmetics also has extended its Brow Try-On AR experience to over 60 partner websites, including those of major retailers around the world. Most recently the company deployed its Brow Try-On for China’s WeChat mini app.
Incredible Realism. Benefit Cosmetics provides incredible realism, so they wanted the same for their Brow Try-On experience.
Benefit Cosmetics has enjoyed a number of benefits since deploying its Perfect Corp.-powered solution Brow Try-On, including providing “incredible realism,” helping customers “see and feel the visual impact of transformation,” and providing the “strongest facial-point detection.” The company has also enjoyed deployment flexibility, enhanced customer engagement, touch-free customer experience, and finding a “great partner for the future.”
Providing “Incredible Realism”
Using Perfect Corp.’s AR technology provides Benefit Cosmetics with the incredible realism it sought for its Brow Try-On customer experience.
“Here at Benefit Cosmetics we see augmented reality as absolute table stakes in the world of beauty,” Dybwad says.
“AR isn’t the future. AR is now. So, we needed a partner that had the technical competency and artistry to create a holistic try-on experience for our customers. And that is exactly what Perfect Corp. was able to provide.”
AR has become table stakes because customers have come to expect immersive experiences when shopping for beauty products.
“The modern beauty customers—and especially younger customers, whether Millennials or Gen Z—are so comfortable with using filters and other experiences on their smartphones, that this is how they expect to try on makeup,” says Toto Haba, SVP of Global Digital at Benefit Cosmetics. “This expectation transcends whether through a screen or in a store.”
This is why it was so important for Benefit Cosmetics to find a technology partner advanced enough to provide a realistic customer
“The technical nuance of tracking brow hair, the challenge of trying to move the brow hair in the correct shape as though the customer had just run product through the eyebrow, filling in gaps, or changing the shape or color, is extraordinarily difficult. This is why the experience we’re able to deliver with our Perfect Corp. AR-powered Brow Try-On is so impressive to our customers. We provide incredible realism.”
Helping Customers, “See and Feel Visual Impact of Transformation”
Part of the consumer journey with brow products is educational, helping the customer understand the possibilities of working with their brows.
“There's a level of unknowing when it comes to eyebrows,” Dybwad says. “People sort of know that eyebrows are important, but they don't really know why, or the degree to which working with brows can have such a big impact. We’ve found this through our deep customer profile studies.”
The need to see to believe is why Benefit’s Brow Try-On is so important to the brand’s category leadership.
“We are opening the door for customers to easily explore this new world of brow possibilities,” Dybwad says. “We are using Perfect Corp. technology to reach someone and allow them to simulate an experience that they may have never had before. Now they can see and feel the visual impact of brow transformation.”
“Strongest Facial-Point Detection”
Behind the scenes, Perfect Corp. uses advanced facial-point detection to power its super realistic reality augmentation. In fact, it was the powerful facial-point detection that helped convince Benefit Cosmetics that Perfect Corp. was the industry leader they wanted to partner with.
“Perfect Corp. has a very high competency with the number of trackers for facial point detection,” Dybwad says. “Precise facial-point detection is extremely critical when dealing with hair particles, hair movement and mobility. Perfect Corp. has the best facial-point detection we’ve seen, which was definitely a factor in choosing Perfect to work with.”
Without precise facial-point detection, the results can be unsettling.
“If you don't have strong facial-point detection, the experience lacks realism,” Dybwad says. “The image looks more like a sticker overlay. It’s just not as natural.”
Dybwad describes the subtle complexity of a brow, from its start, through its arch, and on through its tail, with a world of nuance and individual variation along the way.
“This means the stronger your facial-point detection is, the more completely you can succeed in delivering on those many nuances,” Dybwad says. “It takes finesse to deliver a really true picture of someone's eyebrow and then how to transform it. We are getting this using Perfect Corp.’s technology for our Brow Try-On.”
Benefit Cosmetics traces its history back to 1976 when twin sisters from an Indiana farm came to San Francisco and opened what was then called the Face Place.
Flexibility for Deployment & Beyond
Benefit Cosmetics values the flexibility it finds with Perfect Corp. This includes deployment flexibility, as well as the ability to integrate new features.
“We deployed with Perfect Corp. initially to provide our Brow Try-On as a browser-based experience, so we could be there for our customers on their mobile devices,” Dybwad says. “Perfect Corp. has also made it easy as we extended our Brow Try-On to websites of our retail partners, as well as to in-store brow bars. We have the ability to extend our experience wherever we can meet our customers.”
Without precise facial-point detection, the results can be unsettling.
Benefit Cosmetics has added features to its Perfect Corp-powered Brow Try-On, including automated shade matching.
Rate This Brow. Customers enjoy rating looks, which also provides valuable information for Benefit Cosmetics.
“To further enhance our augmented reality experience, we worked with Perfect Corp. to create direct shade matching,” Dybwad says. “Now when a user uses our Brow Try-On, it matches to her or his eyebrows, rather than using just an approximate middle shade. This provides more personalization for the user.”
The company has also worked with Perfect Corp. to integrate a brow rating system, similar to what someone might use with a ride sharing service. “This gives our users the ability to know how the experience is working for them. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, yet we are always seeking to learn from our customers so we can continually elevate the user experience.”
Introducing Benefit Cosmetics Brow Try-On to the World of WeChat
Benefit Cosmetics teamed with Perfect Corp. to introduce its Brow Try-On mini program within Benefit Cosmetics’ flagship WeChat account.
Brow Try-On. Benefit Cosmetics helps customers find their perfect brow with their Brow Try-On, powered by Perfect Corp. AR technology.
This service—the first of its kind in WeChat mini programs—allows online beauty shoppers in China to experience Benefit’s real-time virtual Brow Try-On to instantly find the right eyebrows for their face shape. Once the user finds the most suitable eyebrow style and shade, he or she can easily book an appointment through WeChat at one of the Benefit’s physical stores to have the desired look recreated by a Benefit’s beauty expert.
Enhanced Customer Engagement with 101% Increase in Time on Site & 20% increase in Add to Carts
The Brow Try-On experience has proven popular with Benefit Cosmetics users. The experience is so captivating that the company has found that customers spend more time on their website. Benefit Cosmetics also finds that customers using Brow Try-On make more add-to-cart purchases.
Since deploying its Perfect Corp. enabled Brow Try-On, Benefit Cosmetics has seen:
- 20% increase in Add-to-Carts from its site.
- 101% increase in Time-on-Site
- 113% increase in Conversion Rate from visitors to its site.
- 15 to 30% of customers on brow pages of its site engaged with its Brow Try-On tool.
Touch-Free Try-Ons More Important than Ever Post Covid-19
Virtual try-on solutions have long been popular with customers who didn’t have the time to, or didn’t want the inconvenience of, physically trying on cosmetics.
In a post Covid-19 world, there is another reason for consumers to be cautious about using samplers that may have been touched by others.
“We feel we are in a powerful position because we already have a touch-free way for our customers to explore our products,” Dybwad says. “Even before Covid-19, customers were reluctant to use samplers. We are now in an environment when consumers will likely be even more vigilant. All of this makes our Brow Try-On an even more welcoming experience for our customers.”
Perfect Corp. “A Great Partner for Building into the Future”
Benefit Cosmetics found a “tremendous advantage” working with Perfect Corp. in launching its app for the Chinese market.
When it comes to the beauty industry, forward thinking is always required. That’s why Benefit Cosmetics enjoys so much working with Perfect Corp., as both companies are moving into the future.
“One of the things that I love about being in the beauty industry is how forward-thinking from a technical standpoint beauty is relative to other industries,” Dybwad says. “Beauty moves so much faster than other industries in regard to technology. And so you need your technology partner to continue to be on the cutting edge and on the forefront of what is happening, which is what we have with Perfect Corp.”
Benefit Cosmetics also values Perfect Corp.’s knowledge of and participation in the markets of China.
“As we built our experience as a WeChat mini program, it was a tremendous advantage to be working with Perfect Corp. because of their competency within Chinese platforms,” Dybwad says. “We see a huge win with our app integration for the Chinese market.”
About Perfect Corp.
With over 800 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