The beauty industry is rapidly adopting and deploying new technologies to maintain consumer engagement. From artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented, virtual and mixed reality, the Covid-19 pandemic ignited consumers understanding and awareness of how these technologies work. Now retailers are integrating them into the new shopping experience.
Even before the pandemic, augmented reality (AR) motivated consumers. Snapchat launched its AR lenses (filters) in 2015. And a 2017 survey from Perfect corp noted that consumers were 1.6 times more likely to purchase skincare and beauty products compared to those who did not use AR apps.
According to a commissioned study by Snap with Deloitte, AR purchases have accelerated, especially throughout the pandemic. The survey also showed that 94% of people expect to use AR to shop the same or more in 2022 compared to 2021.
With over 200 million Snapchatters interacting with AR daily, on May 20, 2021, Snap launched a purchasable AR platform with MAC Cosmetics. MAC is the first brand in EstÃ©e Lauder’s portfolio to launch AR technology.
The new dynamic shopping lenses allow Snapchatters to choose from four lenses to try out 20 different MAC Cosmetics lip and eye products while they’re in the Snapchat app.
âIt’s a game changer, a game changer for social media and e-commerce,â said Salima Popatia, senior vice president, global consumer acquisition and retention, Estee Lauder Companies (ELC). âThis is a complete reframing of consumer intent and the marketing funnel – driven by impulse, by moment, by creative inspiration; the media becomes the store. “
âAnd, it can be transported seamlessly to the consumer in a rewarding consumer-driven experience. It’s very revolutionary; it makes the media more tangible, more ambitious and much more relevant to business, âPopatia said.
It’s all about the customer, not the model
Carolina Arguelles, Global Product Marketing, Augmented Reality at Break, says their goal is to make purchases on the buyer, rather than the items and their appearance on the models.
âInstead, Snapchatters can see the products on themselves, determine if it’s the right style and fit, ask their friends for advice, and press to buy, all within Snapchat,â Arguelles said.
âAugmented reality allows you to try digital versions of real products to see what they look like in a virtual environment,â Arguelles said. âThe AR trial can be used as a utility to fuel product review and purchase, so millions of people can ‘try’ and consider specific products that they might like – without having to go to a store.”
Arguelles says shopping on Snapchat starts with the camera.
âWe believe this is the most powerful and long-lasting way for brands to interact with buyers,â Arguelles said. âAs the camera becomes the primary interface for how people capture, communicate, search and shop, brands that invest in AR experiences today will be prepared for the changes in consumer behavior already upon us and those that are still evolving.
Arguelles adds that by integrating brands’ product catalogs with Snapchat, brands like MAC can create AR beauty lenses from AR shopping templates and post them on Snapchat.
âThis allows beauty enthusiasts to play around and experiment with new makeup looks – without having to apply physical products,â Arguelles adds.
Best e-commerce experiences
Arguelles believes AR can help create a better e-commerce experience – one that is personal, easy to share with real friends, and interactive.
âAR not only improves the customer journey, but helps address critical business issues like costly returns and declining loyalty,â Arguelles said. “The rise of e-commerce has led to incredible growth in choice and convenience, but so far it has not entirely resolved buyers’ confidence in style, size and fit.”
âOnline shopping has been laser-focused on creating a smooth transaction, but shopping is more than just a purchase; this is the whole experience, âsaid Arguelles.
Popatia argues that AR is a complete reframing of âsurprise and delightâ marketing that now adds instant gratification.
âThe convergence of social media and commerce is a disruptive trend that will continue to evolve,â Popatia said. “We see this part of the future of social commerce in beauty, and we are proud that ELC and MAC continue to be the first to move in the space.”