The year is 2020 and, as the extended quarantine due to COVID-19 confines consumers to their homes and beauty shops deemed non-essential close their doors, beauty brands are seeing their sales slump.
Despite this, the demand for beauty products isn’t going anywhere; Google Trends reveals that Google searches for terms such as “makeup online store” and “best mascara 2020” are on the rise. It’s clear that consumers want to keep buying makeup—they just can’t buy it in-store.
Anyone who works in beauty will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of selling makeup and other beauty products online. Consumers continue to value the high-street shop as a place to test different products and ensure they pick the right ones for their skin tone. Makeup shop assistants are, for many, the gatekeepers of a good product match.
Enter COVID-19 and it’s easy to see how consumers, despite wanting to purchase these products, might feel more hesitant about clicking that “Add to cart” button. What if they picked the wrong colour? Will they be able to return it after they’ve already opened and tried it?
Luckily for beauty brands, there is now an AR-powered solution available to solve this problem: virtual makeup try-on.
What exactly is virtual makeup try-on?
You may have seen AR filters on Snapchat or Instagram which allow users to try on different products such as hats and glasses. Similar experiences are now available for makeup; such as the recent release of a virtual makeup try-on YouTube for MAC Cosmetics. This allowed users to try on the different products that were being featured on makeup tutorial videos.
These kinds of AR effects allow users to virtually “try on” a wide range of makeup products, such as eye shadow, lipstick and blush. Brands such as Sephora and Ulta have already incorporated these kinds of AR effects into their shopping apps, but they are also available on Web AR too and can be incorporated into online shopping flows.
Virtual makeup try-on effects could be the saving grace for a lot of beauty brands during this uncertain crisis and beyond, as consumer behaviour radically changes. With no indication yet of when stores will be able to reopen, and a general hesitancy among consumers to risk catching the virus from in-store samples, there is no telling how long it will take until makeup shopping returns to normal.
What does AR hold for the future of beauty retail?
Beyond COVID-19, there are plenty of reasons to believe that technology such as virtual makeup try-on will have a huge impact in the future of the beauty industry. Reports say there is a 11 higher likelihood for customers to buy a product when AR try-on is available, while 75% of people already expect retailers to offer an AR experience. For products such as makeup, which are worn on users’ bodies, being able to visualise these before purchase will be particularly important.
Other uses of AR in the beauty industry
AR is not just about trying on products. With the increasing prominence of AR in the beauty industry, we expect plenty of other use cases to become a mainstay:
One exciting area for AR is in packaging. We are already seeing this kind of use case rolled out in the wine industry. This provides the opportunity for consumers to engage with product packaging by using their smartphones to augment it and access additional information. This is a great opportunity to enhance their shopping experience by offering exciting tidbits, overlays, animations and even mini-games.
There is also scope to bring AR to advertising, for example on magazines and billboards. These kinds of experiences can allow consumers to scan a QR code with their smartphone in order to augment the image displayed. This can lead to fun and engaging experiences and may include a call-to-action, so that consumers can access the online store directly to purchase the product.
Despite the recent misfortunes that have fallen upon the high-street retail sector, there is much to be excited about in the future of beauty, with AR remaining one of the top opportunities for brands to increase their sales and engage with their audiences from a distance.
If you are interested in testing any of these AR experiences, or would like to talk to a member of our team about a potential campaign, please don’t hesitate to get in touch now, or simply sign up on our platform to get started with your first AR campaign.