The beauty and cosmetics industry faced a noticeable setback during the pandemic in 2020. It wasn’t just the lockdowns that affected sales. Many people didn’t feel comfortable with using product testers in stores because of hygienic reasons. And not being able to try out makeup, they were less likely to buy it.
According to McKinsey & Company, although people did turn to online shopping, most still prefer buying cosmetics in-store and only 16-24% (depending on the age group) consumers both browse and buy beauty products online. Having said that, it’s worth noting how that percentage is dynamically increasing. And if we sum up the number of consumers who either browse the products in-store or online, but make the purchase through e-commerce this figure grows to 23-40%.
But why do people still want to browse beauty products in a store? The answer seems straightforward – they can test them. Returning makeup isn’t as easy as returning clothes. After all, if you open the container a refund may not be an option. Many stores lack a way of testing their products without physical samplers. This is where virtual makeup try-on apps can make a huge difference.
In this article we will:
- briefly discuss how such applications work
- look at some examples which are already in use
- talk about their usefulness in the beauty industry
- find out how they can help your business grow
- cover the topic of developing such an app
How do virtual makeup apps work?
The most important part of a virtual makeup try-on app is a good face detection algorithm. Human brains are fantastic at recognizing faces, but a computer sees nothing more than a cluster of individual pixels. Or to be more precise, color codes and their position.
One way algorithms can detect faces is by searching for areas of high contrast between the pixels (this is called the Viola-Jones object detection framework). Next, a different set of instructions tries to align the image with a statistical model of a human face uploaded into the software. After that, it scales and adjusts the saved pattern for a better match. Finally, a virtual mask is overlaid onto the image which allows the establishing of coordinates for facial features to be modified.
This is one example. There are many other techniques, each with its own flaws and advantages. When it comes to choosing the best method, it all depends on what the customer needs and how the AR mirror is going to be used. 4Experience has the experience, knowledge and flexibility to meet the demands of any client when it comes to developing AR solutions for businesses.
Examples of use
An example of an augmented reality mirror we are all familiar with is Snapchat with its lenses. Some of them are in fact makeup filters and anyone who has tried them will agree that they work great and look pretty impressive. This Snapchat feature was well-used for multiple marketing campaigns by brands such as Sephora, McDonald’s or Starbucks.
Besides using Snapchat, Sephora developed its own virtual makeup try-on mirror as early as 2014. It was launched in a store in Milan, Italy, and allowed customers to try on different eye shadows. 2 years later “Sephora Virtual Artist” was introduced, a feature of their mobile app. It started with the option to try on lipstick and lip gloss and was later updated to also support other products like eyeshadows and eyeliners.
In-app beauty tutorials are another functionality used to engage customers and drive sales. This approach brought a lot of media attention to Sephora, which is another noteworthy benefit of virtual makeup try-on solutions, besides increased sales and customer loyalty.
The French concern L’Oreal also has its share in virtual try-on technologies. Just like Sephora, it turned towards AR in 2014, when the Makeup Genius app was launched. It enabled consumers to try on cosmetics, share them on social media and purchase them in a convenient way. Being able to discern 64 facial points and 100 expressions, it works well even if you tilt your head or look sideways.
In 2018 L’Oreal made the bold move to buy out ModiFace – a company that developed an augmented reality mirror. Following this, in 2020, “Signature Faces” was launched – their first line of virtual makeup. You can’t get the cosmetics physically, but can “wear” them as AR filters in applications and platforms like Instagram, Skype, Twitch, or Zoom.
You can also test looks and makeup products from Maybelline (a brand owned by L’Oreal) on their website without the need to install any software. All you need is a webcam or photo of yourself. This web app is very entertaining and works surprisingly well.
As you can see, the concept of a virtual makeup try-on isn’t new and many companies use it with great success. Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology the possibilities are endless and AR mirrors are becoming extremely realistic, precise and popular.
Why are they useful in the beauty industry?
Virtual try-ons are already used in many businesses and are proving to be extremely beneficial. First of all, they make shopping more convenient and simply quicker. It takes only a few clicks or taps to test multiple products within seconds. Customers can experiment with different combinations and looks without the need to actually use any products. It’s also easier to compare articles with a virtual makeup app.
Something that drove many people away from shopping for makeup was the issue of hygiene. It became a growing concern during the pandemic in 2020. Dermatologists agree that you can get an infectious disease from using the in-store samplers and product testers even if nobody has used them prior. All it takes is a cough or sneeze as it’s extremely easy to transfer bacteria or viruses once you apply the product to your skin. An AR mirror eliminates this risk completely while being in no way inferior to physical samples.
Another benefit of a virtual makeup try-on is having the entire range of products at your fingertips. It can be hard to physically display a large number of articles in-store. AR apps make browsing through the offer and choosing things to buy easy and efficient. Additionally, an app can have a virtual assistant function that can give personalized recommendations to customers which will encourage them to make a larger purchase.
How can my business profit from a virtual makeup try-on app?
Increased turnover and revenue
First and foremost, you can substantially increase your turnover and revenue. As we already mentioned under the previous headline, an AR mirror app means a more convenient, quicker, hygienic and entertaining shopping experience. This, in turn, can potentially increase the transaction count or average basket value.
Self-promotion and attracting new customers
Developing a virtual makeup app is a great way to improve your brand’s image, enhance your influencer marketing activities and drive organic traffic to your store. People like interactive tools and are naturally drawn to innovations. A virtual makeup try-on can be a great way for influencers to truly engage their audience and convert that interest into sales.
Opening up new possibilities
Thanks to an AR mirror app you can have a better image of what your customers buy and what they are looking for. Based on that information you can offer a more personalized shopping experience. This is where a virtual assistant algorithm comes into play. It can combine the data and give adequate recommendations of products a user might want.
Depending on how you want the app to work, additional functionalities can be implemented. For example, customers may be able to share pictures with their friends or on social media to ask for opinions before making a purchase. In-app reviews are another useful feature you can add to the application. You can also increase engagement and attract new customers to both use the app and buy your products by gamification. This means rewarding users for inviting friends to download the app, for example.
How do you go about developing a virtual makeup application?
If you want to develop a virtual makeup app for your business it’s best to first assess your needs and requirements. It’s good to have an initial idea of what you want the app to be. However, if you haven’t come up with a specific plan yet, we are at your service. Our team of skilled professionals is here to assist you with our knowledge, creativity and experience. We’ll be more than happy to suggest solutions tailored to your unique needs.
Why place your trust in 4Experience? Our work is based on five fundamental values:
- constant development: we strive for continuous improvement and use the latest tools and technologies available
- entrepreneurship: our vast experience and holistic approach means we provide world-class solutions that meet the requirements of the most demanding customers
- transparency: we inform our clients of every step in the development process, listen to feedback and act accordingly
- positive attitude: our enthusiasm and optimism makes us great problem solvers, we establish long-term relationships built on mutual respect and trust
- integrity: thanks to sharing the same values, trusting each other and having a passionate approach we make a good team, which translates to stability and reliability
If you’re thinking of incorporating AR solutions into your business, feel free to contact our team. We will be happy to discuss the opportunities and address any concerns you may have.