In this day and age, COVID-19 is positively accelerating the digital transformation of the beauty industry. Here’s how.
Unarguably, there has been a tremendous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on obvious sectors such as tourism and healthcare. The beauty industry is probably one that most of us consider the least when discussing these changes.
However, there have been many significant trends in beauty technology that were put forward in part thanks to the restrictions and safety concerns caused by COVID-19 this year. Some of these have been introduced even before the pandemic occurred.
For instance, did you know that physical samples are becoming almost obsolete due to the changing needs of consumers and novel tech advancements?
The question is: how?
When E-Commerce & Beauty Converge
‘Try before you buy’ was the go-to retailing strategy for beauty and cosmetics only a year ago, and the prospects looked promising.
It improved sales potential because customers were better able to understand beauty products in terms of color, texture, and scent. This traditional approach simplified purchasing decisions and saved time.
But over time, consumer needs change due to personal preferences or external factors, which means beauty brands need to adapt to these changes quickly with new digital beauty experiences, such as virtual makeup try-on, foundation shade finder, hair color try-on, and online skin diagnostic:
- Virtual lipstick try-on by Estée Lauder
- Smart foundation shade finder by Make Up For Ever
- Virtual hair color try-on by Aveda
- Online skin diagnostic by La Roche Posay
In this coming year, many brands found themselves suspending makeovers and demonstrations, and instead of using virtual means to offer these experiences to their consumers. Read more on that in our latest post here.
Companies were quick to capitalize on leveraging software technologies that redefine how consumers buy, use, and experience beauty products, as more beauty brands turned their efforts and resources to the Internet.
It’s not surprising the e-Commerce niche currently represents a significant source of revenues in the global $532 billion worth beauty industry.
After all, the future of beauty will be about technology. Whether it is related to the formulation process, quality assurance, digitalization, personalization, or responding to customer needs, brands are operating in a fascinating new world.
We explore this further below.
Home Shopping With Beauty Tech Solutions
What remains the same at the heart of digital acceleration is the customer with a deep sense of how they want to look and feel. This essentially means beauty products remain important, even throughout the pandemic.
And with retailers now being unable to use in-store makeup testers, for instance, beauty brands are turning to better, cost-efficient means.
Virtual makeup try-on is an ideal example of that.
Health and personal well-being are vital reasons why trying on beauty products through virtual means is a safer option than buying them in-store.
AR-powered virtual makeup software removes the need for physical samples and addresses hygiene, health, and environmental concerns. Customers remain in the comfort of their homes and do not expose themselves or others to the risk of virus spread by instead using a fun, exciting alternative.
Consumers can sample makeup products, nail polishes, hair colors, and other items seamlessly and safely with zero rush, zero mess, and zero traveling.
All that is needed is usually a mobile device with a camera and an Internet connection.
In the YouCam Makeup app for instance, (try it free here, you’ll love it as much as we do!), beauty fanatics can virtually try on any makeup or hairstyle looks they come across, get on-demand professional advice from a beauty guru right within the app, and even purchase chosen items without exiting the software.
Online Beauty Advisor 1-on-1 solution with AR Virtual Try-On. Connect your customers with Beauty Advisors anytime, anywhere.
Moreover, virtual try-on technologies are a great source of innovation.
Estée Lauder’s iMatch Virtual Shade Expert can be considered as an ideal example.
The beauty giant has recently partnered with Perfect Corp to roll out a virtual try-on tool to allow its consumers to identify their ideal foundation shade.
Both the interface and the experience are simple and intuitive. Powered by AI deep learning, the digital experience accurately detects and compares the user’s skin tone against its extensive knowledge base of 89,969 skin tones.
We can expect other brands to further combine digital technologies with personalized product curation and deliver an even more engaging online shopping experience.
The Cost Of Distributing Physical Samples
Distributing physical product samples might have some benefits to it, but the process is nevertheless costly and unscalable.
Some of the advantages of physical sample production and distribution include higher customer engagement rates due to, for instance, allowing prospects to personally experience the merits of makeup items before the purchase.
As an example, a beauty brand might send physical samples of its new mascara to customers so they can discover the product and fall in love with it.
However, production and distribution expenses are too significant to ignore. Manufacturing, packing, inventory quality control, and logistics costs - the list could go on.
The expenses equally apply to both makeup testers used in stores, as well as physical samples that are offered as part of promotional deals.
The demand for physical samples is also very difficult to predict. What if consumers urgently need certain samples and a retailer loses out on potential sales because of a stock-out?
There is the added worry of planning and considering every aspect in advance, as beauty brands devise the best action plans. But with virtual makeovers, this concern, in addition to many more, is completely eliminated.
Perfect Corp.'s contactless virtual try-on experience in action (voice navigation and gesture control).
By going digital, companies can follow hygiene and safety measures by integrating virtual makeup technology into their customer-facing in-store devices (think AR smart mirrors or similar).
Some in-store virtual try-on incorporates intelligent gesture-controlled features that enable customers to seamlessly navigate the experience without having to touch a screen.
They can draw relevant data about products they have tried on by simply taking photos and using their phones to scan the QR codes. Voice activation capabilities allow consumers to input commands and keywords to browse product categories.
All these dynamic features are safer and more affordable than distributing actual samples for consumers to try on.
Brands can achieve economies of scale and prevent themselves from incurring extra costs even if they operate online. This is possible because AR beauty experiences are already proven, and brands can get started in no time.
Contactless Virtual Try-On Features
With digital makeup software features, consumers fully avoid the risk of COVID-19 spread by simply exploring, trying on, and purchasing beauty items in the comfort of their own homes.
In fact, contactless virtual try-on is all the rage in these difficult times.
From virtually trying on matte or glossy lipsticks and choosing from a variety of foundation finishes, to highly-personalized and customized tutorials - there are a plethora of options for users to pursue as they navigate through AR-powered software tools.
For instance, facial mapping technology brings a virtual makeover that accurately captures shapes and colors. Consumers are able to try on an unlimited amount of shades through a live device built-in camera use, selecting a model’s image, or uploading selfies.
Going Digital is the Only Survival Guide
Customers have perfectly valid health concerns as reasons to choose virtual makeup try-on and other online beauty services.
Even without the COVID-19 pandemic and physical samples becoming obsolete, digital virtual makeovers are a superior alternative to physical testers, due to cost-efficiency, better consumer engagement, and higher retention rates, among many other advantages.
All in all, investing in Beauty Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence guarantees profitability in the long run during this day and age.
The world can expect AR-driven shopping experiences to be among the most revenue-generating sources for worldwide beauty brands in the coming years.
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