Despite brands starting to become more physically detached from their consumers, the cosmetics industry has proven to be resilient in the past, and there will always be a demand for beauty products. Through Google Trends, for example, it can be found that terms such as “makeup online store” and “best mascara 2020” were on the rise throughout the lockdown period. It’s clear that consumers want to keep buying makeup, they just cannot test and buy products in-store.
In most major beauty markets though, in-store shopping is crucial for brands to thrive, accounting for up to 85% of beauty-product purchases pre-COVID. Even the most tech-savvy GenZ make just under 60% of their purchases in store. The closure of stores due to the pandemic, thus, has majorly affected the beauty industry, with some never even being able to reopen again.
Anyone who wears or sells makeup and beauty products will be familiar with the ease and convenience of being able to go in store and test out the different products available. Consumers continue to value the high-street shop as a place to ensure they pick the right products and shades for their skin type and tones, with makeup shop assistants being the gatekeepers of a good product match.
The global beauty industry generates over £400 billion in sales every year, accounting for millions of jobs, passions and consumer habits. Post-COVID, industry leaders should be making further efforts to pull their companies out of this difficult upcoming period, to ensure their brands survive the sales slump.
Augmented reality (AR) provides industry leaders with the perfect solution to their current problems—virtual makeup try-ons.
AR uses mobile technology to create interactive virtual experiences by enhancing objects in our real world with computer-generated effects. With makeup effects, for example, consumers can virtually "try on" a range of different products and shades, such as lipstick, mascara and contour. A number of household names have already incorporated these effects into their marketing and shopping apps, such as Sephora, L’Oréal and MAC Cosmetics.
AR can create personalized brand experiences that involve consumers in a way that was not previously possible. With AR technology evolving every day, and AR effects becoming increasingly available to consumers through social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, these types of experiences are becoming the new future of marketing.
With the uncertain world ahead, post-COVID, virtual experiences that utilize AR could save the beauty industry from further plummeting sales and engagement. This new technology, however, is not just a solution to the current issues for brands, but it could continue to have a huge impact in the future of beauty retail. It has been reported that, pre-COVID, there was already an eleven times higher likelihood for consumers to buy a product when an AR try-on is available, while 75% of consumers already expected retailers to offer AR experiences. For products worn daily, such as makeup, it is particularly important to be able to visualize the products on before purchase, and so these experiences could have a lasting home in the marketing and engagement of beauty product consumers.
Media and marketing are increasingly trending away from video and graphics toward immersive content, and so the time for AR is very much in the now. In fact, more than 4/5 of brands consider AR marketing a differentiated way to engage with customers, and 9 out of 10 plan on using AR in their campaigns.
So, following COVID-19, the beauty industry should certainly look to utilize this new technology to showcase their products by creating lasting, impactful campaigns which support sales and growth during the difficult upcoming period.
About the Author
David Ripert is the CEO and co-founder of Poplar, a platform that empowers the world to easily create lasting and impactful augmented reality (AR) and 3D experiences, working alongside a number of prolific brands, such as Disney and the BBC. They are also official partners of social media platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
David is also the president of the AR & VR Association. He has great experience in this field, and is the ex-Head of EMEA business for a key YouTube division. He also has over 19 years of international leadership experience within Fortune 500 & start-ups (Google, YouTube, Netflix, Dailymotion, Cap Gemini E&Y).