Virtual try-on solutions have picked up steam over the course of the last 15 months, with consumers wanting to try makeup products and even hair color, all from the comfort of their own homes. These solutions have even panned well in other categories such as home furnishings, which, much like the beauty category, has witnessed exponential growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A key reason why the use of AR and AI technology has taken off is that it gives buyers much-needed confidence when it comes to purchasing items for personal use. That increased buyer confidence not only results in an increase in sales for brands and retailers, but it also plays a vital role in managing operational costs, production volume, reducing the use of packaging, and supporting overall sustainability efforts.
Players In AR & AI Tech
Global beauty tech provider, Perfect Corp., has made several notable integrations this past year, including partnerships with Youtube, PÜR, Google and Snapchat, aiming to create a frictionless online buying experience for consumers shopping for beauty products and, more recently, fashion. In addition, the company recently announced an integration with Facebook to expand augmented reality (AR) virtual beauty try-on and shopping experiences across Instagram and Facebook.
Augmented reality company ModiFace is another player that has partnered with beauty brands such as L’Oréal to create virtual experiences. L’Oréal recently extended its partnership with ModiFace to Essie nail polish to offer a virtual try-on salon, allowing users to easily test Essie nail polishes before final purchase.
As the use of AR-powered solutions has taken off, beauty retailers have not only looked to adopt AR solutions offered by solutions providers, but some are even focussing on developing their own. For example, beauty retailer, Ulta Beauty, invested in adding thousands of new SKUs to its virtual solution GLAMLab, which significantly helped it improve engagement over mobile channels. As a result, the company saw its app downloads double in 2020.
Ulta Beauty first invested in GLAMLab back in 2016 in an effort to make the Ulta Beauty customer experience as seamless as possible.
How AR & AI Technology Is Powering Sustainable Beauty
AR and AI-powered solutions are not only helping boost buyers’ confidence through virtual try-ons and personalized recommendations but are also helping brands and retailers reach their sustainability goals.
“The sustainability movement is gaining momentum across a wide range of industries, including the beauty industry. Many beauty companies are taking part in a variety of eco-friendly trends in an effort to spearhead change. In particular, beauty brands are switching to sustainable packaging and eco-friendly ingredients, as well as embracing innovation to expand their sustainability efforts,” said the Perfect Corp. team in a company blog post.
“But at the core of sustainability in the beauty industry is beauty tech. Going virtual is a huge way for beauty brands to be more sustainable.”
Through virtual product sampling experiences (virtual try-ons) and, more specifically, personalized recommendations, solution providers such as Perfect Corp. continue to play an important role in helping both brands and their customers become more sustainable.
Such virtual offerings allow customers to try on multiple products in real-time, finding options that work for them. As a result, these customers also tend to be more satisfied with their purchases and are less likely to return a product. This, in turn, helps reduce a company’s return volume and aids businesses in becoming a zero-waste company.
Scientists calculate that over five trillion pieces of plastic remain in the ocean, and while the beauty industry isn’t responsible for all of it, it still plays a large role. However, beauty brands and retailers can work to reduce their impact by utilizing personalization tools, enabling increased buyer’s confidence, reduction of return rates and ultimately overconsumption.
Looking ahead, the adoption of beauty tech solutions is going to continue to play a key role in brands’ and retailers’ future success. After all, not only do they enable these companies to focus on quality, but they also help improve overall sustainability — something consumers now expect from their favorite brands and retailers.