New technologies like augmented reality and artificial intelligence keep the beauty in business.
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5 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
The current crisis has changed consumer behavior and expectations immensely. Since the lockdown began, personal safety and hygiene have been a top concern. Consumers are afraid of visiting crowded marketplaces and in some cases have postponed purchases. One area that has seen unprecedented growth in many facets is online sales. From grocery shopping to banking, consumers meet most of their needs online.
To be part of this movement, the beauty industry needs to be innovative and deliver an experience that is in line with what brick and mortar stores do. Major e-commerce beauty brands have used Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) to develop evaluation, comparison, and testing tools to help people find beauty products online. We can learn from some of these case studies.
1. Augmented Reality is used to visualize cosmetic products
As customers move away from brick-and-mortar stores and switch online, brands should switch to virtual try-on tools to preserve the offline experience.
- With the L’Oréal product ModiFace, consumers can enjoy AR-supported make-up to try on.
- Olay, a brand of PnG, launched Skin Advisor in 2017. Based on in-depth learning, products that analyze the user's skin based on a photo are recommended. Of the 6 million people who use this service, 94 percent say recommendations are appropriate.
- With Maybelline's “Virtual Try-On” tool, you can apply and compare four make-up products at the same time. It also shows a comparison of before and after the look.
- Sephora's Virtual Artist analyzes your skin and facial features to recommend products to try on. By 2018, users had demonstrated more than 200 million shades of color with this feature.
- 88 percent of medium-sized companies already use AR in some way (Deloitte)
- 66 percent of people say they are interested in supporting AR when shopping (Google Consumer AR Survey).
- 60 percent of people would like to be able to visualize how and where a product fits into their lives (Google Consumer AR Survey).
- The conversion rates for consumers who engage with AR increase by 90 percent compared to consumers who do not (retail customer experience).
Related: Instagram and Google launch interactive online shopping portals
2. Artificial intelligence is used for product recommendations
Are you concerned about the safety and effectiveness of a cosmetic product? Companies are developing AI-based product recommendation tools to address the pain point.
- Proven Skin Care – a tool based on the Skin Genome Database: This is a search engine that is used to find information about beauty products. The database contains data points on the effectiveness of more than 20,238 ingredients for skin care, properties of over 100,000 individual products, 8 million user reviews and 4,000 scientific publications.
- The EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is an online tool for finding ingredients in beauty products. It contains hazard ratings for 70,000 products from 2,374 brands and information on 9,000 ingredients.
- Function of Beauty makes bespoke hair care products using ingredients recommended by machine learning algorithms. These custom shampoo / conditioner formulas are specific to customers' hair types.
- Haut.AI is a SaaS tool that provides tools and APIs for this.
- Consumers are 40 percent more likely to see items recommended based on the information they have shared with the brand (MarketingDive).
- 47 percent of consumers go to Amazon when the brand they shop with does not provide relevant product suggestions (SmarterHQ).
- The global organic beauty market is projected to reach $ 54 billion by 2027 amid concerns about the safety of the ingredients used (Statista).
New technologies are expensive bets
At first glance, a technology such as an AR-based virtual test tool seems easy to implement. It would be best if you had a 3D photograph of your product catalog or data attributes that mimicked the product's lifelike application. That's just the tip of the iceberg; The real complexity lies in that. You'd end up with a number of annoyed customers if the tool doesn't accurately represent real-world applications.
Breakthroughs in product development are being made in this area – from a storefront novelty to a functionality that the majority of customers use. What used to be limited to high-ticket items like real estate is now used to showcase regular products. It has certainly worked in favor of brands in the beauty industry as L’Oréal saw product sales increase 49 percent from its AR initiative.
Related: 3 Reasons Why The Aesthetic & Anti-Aging Market Has Not Been Affected By The Pandemic
One change of direction is the way AdTech companies are using AR. Google implemented it in search results while Facebook is working on AR advertising for Facebook and Instagram. Immersive social commerce is the future where users interact with AR representations of products and buy them without leaving the social media platform. The capabilities have been demonstrated by the giants, but cost is the main limiting factor in the widespread adoption of these technologies in e-commerce.