Coty-owned makeup brand Bourjois has unveiled a new smart mirror experience that enables shoppers to virtually try on make-up simply by picking up a cosmetic product in store.
Available at the brand’s newly relaunched boutique in Paris, the blended reality mirror is said to be an industry first as it integrates physical product – in this case makeup – with the augmented reality experience happening on the screen.
Shoppers can, for instance, pick up a lipstick and the chosen colour will instantly appear on their lips via the smart screen. The connected screen currently features the ‘pick up’ experience with the Rouge Velvet lipstick collection, and shoppers can then complete the digital look via onscreen eye make-up and blush, which is matched to their individual skin tones.
“As part of our desire to reinvent the retail experience through purposeful and personalized innovation, the Bourjois Magic Mirror represents the most extensive integration of physical products and digital content in the beauty industry,” said Elodie Levy, Coty’s global digital innovation senior director.
“Most women intuitively prefer to play with a lipstick rather than touch a screen, as there is an inherent sensual aspect in cosmetics packaging that no technology can replace, and our new Magic Mirror provides this desired experience to shoppers.”
Coty’s innovation comes from research that shows that 72% of consumers want an in-store beauty experience to be a mixture of both physical and digital elements in order to feel more ‘believable’. Moreover, the company believes virtual product try-on solves other retail-related issues such as testers not being available, as well as general hygiene concerns.
To create this experience, Coty worked with London-based digital studio Holition and retail marketing experts Perch. Holition is also responsible for Charlotte Tilbury’s in-store smart mirror, as well as Rimmel London’s makeup filters on Facebook Stories, but what differs in the Bourjois experience from other mirrors, however, is that it is customizable by product, as opposed to previous mirrors that focus on looks. Holition’s FACE software also allows skin tones to be analysed, thus providing a more personalized experience.
The experience is complemented by NY-based Perch’s expertise in the mirror’s form and function, where the smart camera monitors a defined area for activity, and automatically triggers visual content.
On the future of in-store marketing, Perch Interactive CEO Trevor Sumner says it is about blending digital experiences naturally into the shopper journey. “The Bourjois Magic Mirror uses computer vision to sense the most important indication of interest in physical retail – when a shopper touches a product – unlocking an experience that encourages natural pathways of discovery, education and engagement.”
Tapping into the digitally-connected beauty shopper’s need for peer engagement, the mirror also offers three playful filters and a feature that takes selfies, which can either be printed in-store or sent to the customer via email, which links to purchase all trialled items at Bourjois’ online channel.
Rimmel London has teamed up with digital studio Holition to create a series of live augmented reality make-up filters using Facebook’s new Camera Effects platform.
Users can cycle through four key looks simply by saying “wow” before snapping and sharing them via Facebook Stories, Facebook Live and on their timelines.
The aim is to give consumers inspirational and seamless ways to experience make-up, according to the brand, making it even easier for them to pick out shades and styles that best suit their features and complexion.
Fred Gerantabee, global VP of digital innovation at Coty, which owns Rimmel London, said: “Coty is focused on continuous digital transformation of our brands to ensure we are continuing to exceed consumers’ needs. We have always placed importance and tremendous value around augmented reality and virtual try-on tools across our brands, including Rimmel, Sally Hansen and Clairol, and it made perfect sense to bring that same excitement and exploration to the world’s most ubiquitous platform – Facebook – in a way that’s perpetual, and scalable.
“For Coty this isn’t a ‘one day only’ deal – we aim to make beauty exploration and sharing new looks a central part of Facebook users’ daily interaction with and enjoyment of the platform. The new in-app camera gives us an exciting way to do exactly that.”
It’s made possible by the fact Facebook recently opened its Camera Effects API to a closed beta group of developers, of which Holiton was one.
Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of Holition, said: “Our partnership with Coty/Rimmel London has highlighted an exciting breakthrough as it demonstrates how the hyper speed ‘EdgeYourLook’ app can harness the scale of augmented reality for Facebook’s two billion users. As one of the early pioneers in augmented reality we are always searching for new ways for more people to experience its sheer fun and playfulness”.
The move follows an earlier partnership between Rimmel and Holition, which saw a Get the Look app created to enable users to nab real-life make-up looks, whether from friends or celebrities, to try on themselves. The benefit of using Facebook lies in reducing the barrier to entry for consumers; enabling them to experience AR via a platform they already use rather than inviting them to download another app.
As Digiday explains, for the brand, creating the filters is also free at this point, which is not only cheaper than creating an app, but also provides an opportunity up against Snapchat where similar effects are both expensive and only run for a few days.
In just three short years, Charlotte Tilbury make-up has become somewhat of an obsession among its fans. Heralded by the celebrities and models the namesake artist has long worked with herself, it’s transposed into the consumer market at a rapid rate, popping up with counters all around the world and a second standalone store opening in Westfield London this week.
Core to the offering from a marketing perspective is a strong digital presence anchored by beauty tutorials, an eagerness to experiment with new technologies, like virtual reality for its Kate Moss-endorsed fragrance launch for instance, and a true sense of experience in the stores themselves.
Shoppers can book makeover sessions to recreate one of the 10 signature looks Tilbury products are built around – from Bombshell to Dolce Vita. Each take around 45 minutes, and unsurprisingly, serve as an opportunity to sell the items being used, either as a package or individually.
That part isn’t a new concept for a beauty brand. What is, in the Westfield store, is a virtual mirror that aims to help the decision process for which look to go for in the first place, or indeed which items to choose if you don’t have time for one of those tutorials at all.
Sitting atop a plush burgundy seat, users can choose any one of the 10 looks to see it superimposed on their own faces on a screen in front of them, thanks to augmented reality technology from creative studio Holition. In real-time, lips, eyes even make-up on the skin is transformed and mapped to the individual’s features so they can turn their heads, look closer, even close one eye to appreciate the shades even more. From a first-hand perspective, it’s an incredibly genuine and realistic experience.
Holition’s creative team reportedly worked closely with Tilbury’s make-up artists to understand the way in which the products are applied in real-life, including how they are layered and blended.
Said Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of Holition: “We [needed] to clearly understand how make-up is applied and only then could we start to create this digitally and make the virtual look as realistic as possible… Our creatives spent many months creating and perfecting the 10 looks including colour, shape, skin tone and face tracking.”
The full range of products is available for try-on including foundation, blusher, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipliner, lipstick and contouring techniques. A clever button has even been added to show how the look can be transformed for night and day – a nude lip with dark eyes on the one hand, updated with a red lip for the evening for instance.
Users can then save looks to compare them, share them and even email them to themselves. Better yet, they can also choose to see all 10 looks comparatively side by side – in just 40 seconds. That’s a significant boon for anyone not sure what suits them and short on time.
Indeed, while there’s something inherently gimmicky about the majority of so-called “magic mirrors” we’ve seen in the market to-date – augmented reality try-ons often for the sake of it rather than because of the fact it really helps you make a decision – this one serves as an enormous selling opportunity for the brand.
Providing consumers with the option for a real-life make-up session remains an important one, and the heart of the Tilbury experience, but it is hoped the ability to help the decision making process along the way through the use of this digital tool, will result in greater cross-selling, not to mention customer satisfaction.
Indeed, anecdotally, one of the team members from Holition on-hand to launch the magic mirrors to press this week, said a key attendee had believed she was set on one particular look to then go and have done by a make-up artist in real-life, but the mirror completely changed her mind. The ease by which shoppers can similarly determine what they want is a promising one, they said.
On the new store, Tilbury said: “It’s make-up made easy, but also fun and engaging. I can only liken it to falling down Alice’s rabbit hole into a world of make-up enchantment – my stores are all about making make-up easy-to-use, easy-to-choose, and easy-to-shop in a luxurious theatrical, sensory environment.”
Virtual try-on isn’t a new concept in the beauty industry, with brands and retailers including L’Oréal, Rimmel and Sephora all having their own versions of augmented reality experiences to-date. Rather than full-sized physical stands, however, they have tended to be apps at this stage; tools that allow the user to independently play around with different looks and products through their mobile phone screens.
What will be interesting then, will be to see how consumers actually take to engaging with this technology in-store. There’s still a perceived barrier in the retail world for shoppers to willingly interact with screens for fear they’re not supposed to. In this instance, however, the mirrors will be used as assisted selling tools, especially to begin with, thus actively encouraged by associates.
Technology initiatives in the fashion and beauty industry are too often for the sake of it, rather than built around problems that needs to be solved, said Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of creative agency Holition on a panel about augmented reality (AR) at #FashMash L!VE this week.
He called on the industry to consider its use of AR as well as virtual reality (VR) as solutions, not just a means of PR. By doing so the tech will be much “stickier”, he said, meaning people will keep coming back to it.
“We were very struck by how difficult it is for girls and women to explore new looks without actually walking into a shop and trying on make-up. If you do that using AR, then you can experience [them] very easily,” he explained.
Elodie Lévy, global digital marketing director at Coty Inc, which owns the Rimmel brand, said the goal behind using the tech really had to be about servicing consumers. Before even deciding what that tech would be therefore, they had to understand what the consumer wanted and needed. “It was really important for us to be grounded in consumer insights to make sure that this app would have utility, otherwise we’d have been pretty sure people would’ve downloaded it and dropped it,” she said.
One of the particular insights observed surrounded the shift in the consumer journey for buying make-up today. “What we had before is glossy advertising in a magazine, where the model was wearing the look and this was aspirational enough to go to the store to buy the same look. Over the past few years we’ve seen a drastic change in the consumer’s habits, where the sources of info have completely changed. Now it’s all Instagram looks, Pinterest, YouTube… and consumers record or screengrab them on their phones, then they go to the shop and they try to guess.”
To solve that issue, as well as help them see what make-up suits them as an individual, AR proved the most beneficial technology to use, she explained. Today, 60% of consumers return to the app, rather than the industry average of 20%.
In spite of this, Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency at London College of Fashion, urged the audience to consider the fact that there also needs to be experimentation in the industry in order to help move it forward. “I don’t believe we have to always justify the use of technology as if we always have to solve a problem. I think if you look for a problem to solve, you end up with something that is almost predictable. There are times when experimentation just needs to happen; we need to put technologies through trial and put them into market,” he commented.
Within a university context, compared to say a corporation like Coty, he is of course afforded more in the way of opportunity to experiment, to test and see what certain technologies can do for the industry. But without that, we wouldn’t be able to get them ready for mass consumer adoption, he urged.
That was achieved by the whole collection being scanned using DoubleMe’s Holo Portal to turn it into a volumetric 3D mesh. Unlike with virtual reality, which isolates you from the environment you are in and instead transports you to another when you have the headset on, this technology superimposes the holograms on top of your natural surrounds. In other words, you can still see the room and the people around you, meaning the collection could be explored by walking around it and up close to it as if it really was in front of you.
“This is early stage technology, so when you put it on I think you can see the limitations of Hololens, but to actually have a full scale hologram in front of you is quite exciting. To watch people’s reactions to it, is really exciting. When you have no point of reference and you see something coming alive in front of you, the application of that at fashion week for one, but also you can imagine in a retail environment, is also really exciting,” he explained. “Ultimately for consumers, we’re beginning to explore where this technology could allow us to create a new couture. Would consumers be able to walk into a space and begin to collaborate with designers on creating the product together, in real time?”
In all circumstances, the speakers agreed that the quality of the technology and the user experience was key, no matter the stage it’s at.
“Quality is absolutely everything,” Chippindale said, “Brands are not going to be interested in ‘that’s where the tech is, and that’s all you’re going to get’, they want it absolutely as photo-realistic as possible. If you can get that; get people believing that the make-up they’re trying on they’re actually putting on, the shoes that they’re wearing are real, then I think there’s a really interesting possibility to blur that digital and physical world.”
The biggest issue at the moment, he said, is that the hardware just needs to get better. While there are various headsets being developed, and others like Magic Leap, rumoured to be able to start moving all of this forward, the majority of experiences are still held through the 2.5 inches of our mobile phone screens.
“We need some major technological hardware breakthrough to liberate the power that AR can have in making our lives better. It’s not around the corner yet, but if we can unleash AR from our phones, that’s when it becomes interesting,” Chippindale added.
Additional reporting by Bia Bezamat. Thank you also to Huckletree for hosting the evening, to Nuva for the flavoured water refreshments, and the tech companies who came in and showcased their work, including Holition, DoubleMe and Exzeb.
From a branding perspective, what also works is engagement – the typical sponsored lens (the augmented reality filters Snapchat has become increasingly known for), are used on average for 20 seconds.
All of that combined, and beauty brands have particularly been taking note. Looking to raise awareness and build new audiences, companies such as Urban Decay, Benefit and L’Oréal have recently launched their own lenses on the social app and, for 24 hours, reached a potential public of up to 100 million.
For Benefit, the biggest ROI in numbers wasn’t sales conversion, but rather usage and shares. As Nicole Frusci, vice president and digital marketing at the brand, told WWD: “We noticed there was a huge amount of usage from consumers to beauty influencers to other partners of ours. We saw a huge spike in the cross-sharing on other channels that was greater than we expected.”
In another creative application, beauty subscription retailer Birchbox recently invited followers to use Snapchat’s call feature to speak to its customer service agents.
The way these companies are using Snapchat is indicative of how beauty brands are putting their customers’ digital behaviours at the core of education, product discovery and experimentation. As digital has evolved, the always-on millennial beauty audience has grown accustomed to responding to visual, engaging digital content. This has been driven by the popularity of beauty vloggers, from grassroots names like Zoella to professional make-up artists including Lisa Eldridge and Charlotte Tilbury.
In 2015, leveraging the popularity of the contouring trend, partly thanks to the Kardashian clan, Sephora teamed up with beauty firm Map My Beauty to launch Pocket Contour, a mobile app that teaches customers how to master the sculpting look. Explaining the approach of hand-holding customers once they leave the store, Bridget Dolan, Sephora’s Innovation Lab VP, told USA Today: “We don’t want them to go home and throw the product in a drawer because the consumer can’t remember how the beauty adviser applied it.”
She added that women can buy the wrong foundation up to seven times before finding the correct shade for their skin. Teaching them how to buy and use the correct product first time around, helps avoid customer dissatisfaction, she explained.
Sephora’s strategy in the digital space is clearly rooted in insight about how its customers behave and what barriers might be stopping them from experimenting with new make-up. The brand has also recently launched the Beauty Uncomplicator online, which helps narrow down its extensive merchandise using a Mad Libs-style questionnaire, where users have to fill in blanks. By promoting interactivity, Sephora is trying to create “really fun, addictive shopping experiences”, according to Deborah Yeh, SVP of marketing and brand.
Being fun is also key to how the beauty industry is approaching digital. This is particularly important for luxury beauty brands, who are notoriously less adventurous in the physical sphere in order to protect brand equity. Digital gives them room to play and to be experimental, which is perfectly exemplified by Burberry bringing its beauty license back in-house in 2012. When luring the millennial customer into buying an affordable piece from the label, quirky campaigns like Burberry Kisses from 2013, show flexible brand image, with a digital sensibility that matches its younger target audience.
And as brands play with digital platforms, from established social media apps, like John Frieda’s recent Instagram campaign, to the sci-fi world of bots (another Sephora initiative), there is one clear go-to tech when it comes to getting the best of both work and play: augmented reality. Spearheaded by industry leaders such as Modiface and Holition, AR bridges the gap between the experience of trialling a physical product in-store and doing so on your smartphone.
Brands ranging as far and wide as L’Oréal, Lancôme and Covergirl have taken on the technology to help customers virtually try on make-up (mimicking that Snapchat user behaviour), while Rimmel has employed it to allow users to ‘nab’ the look of others. Modiface even has a new chatbot that brings virtual lipstick try-ons to Facebook Messenger.
Max Factor meanwhile is using it to enhance access to content in-store; recently announcing a partnership with augmented reality app Blippar that allows customers to scan more than 500 of its individual products to see additional information, from peer reviews to before-and-after pictures.
Digital and tech are most successful when they enhance – and not replace – the shopping experience. Customers will only interact when they are willing, so getting the basics right first, such as customer-focused product categories, is essential. And the message from the beauty industry is clear: use digital as a tool to help customers navigate choice and facilitate trial and error. Make it ‘sticky’ and you will become their brand of choice.
Now there’s a headline: Shazam for beauty. But it’s almost true.
Coty-owned brand, Rimmel London, has introduced a new app based on its Get The Look technology, which allows users to try out the make-up styles of everyone from friends in real life through to celebrities in magazine images.
The augmented reality tool uses advanced real-time tracking to detect make-up on the subject being scanned before colour-matching it with cosmetics by Rimmel. The user can then steal the look by seeing it on themselves in a virtual sense via their smartphone cameras, and even clicking to buy the corresponding products. Think Snapchat lenses, but more on the glamorous, not to mention practical side.
Developed by creative agency Holition using their advanced FACE technology, the app can detect everything from mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow through to lipstick, lipline and even blusher, bronzer and foundation. The clever part comes in the fact the face tracking technology attached to it means that as you move – smile, talk, turn – the virtual make-up stays in place as though you were indeed looking in a mirror.
Read more about the artificial intelligence and machine learning behind the technology as well as why Rimmel has launched such a tool, via the full story on Forbes.
Meet Fashbot, a life-sized robot that took to London Technology Week this week to showcase numerous famous fashion designs in hand-drawn form.
Juxtaposing analogue craft with the latest in digital technology, the installation saw looks from the likes of Alexander McQeen, Christian Dior, Gianni Versace and Valentino all slowly appearing in projected form as though they were being drawn onto the dress in real-time.
The installation was concepted and created by designer Brooke Roberts, as part of a commissionion by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s promotional company. She wanted to demonstrate fashion and robotics, with a human sensibility, so approached 3D-printing robotics company InMoov to help her.
The result was a robot draped with a piece of clothing upon which projections of the various fashion imagery appeared, produced by digital agency Holition’s in-house creative artist, Gintare Zukauskaite.
Holition CEO, Jonathan Chippindale, said: “As an anti-tech technology studio, Holition has always been more focused on the experience, the engagement and the digital anthropology between humans and technology, rather than the wires and circuit boards and the algorithms. This installation fits this ethos nicely – although on paper it is a collaboration involving 3D printing, robotics, fashion and projection mapping, it is actually a narrative that discusses the connection between analogue and digital, a story of fashion told through the medium of technology and ultimately a study of what it is to be human.”
Correction: an earlier version of this story wrongly stated Brooke Roberts was just the designer of the dress and not full creative behind the installation.
Peak “grabbing” time on Grabble for instance is late Sunday afternoon, when a quarter (26%) of the week’s saves into the wishlists are made. Pre-work grabbing is most popular with women, who particularly like to do so at 8am, while men by comparison tend to do their grabs (65% of them) at 9pm at night.
All of this is brought to life in the digital artwork by pink (female) and blue (male) dots – further demonstrating such ideas like men being more willing to buy from retailers they already know, by the fact they’re clustered around well-known names. Women in contrast are more randomly spread across brands, including smaller ones, illustrating they are more experimental in their shopping and open to using the app as a means of discovery.
As Dan Murray, co-founder at Grabble, says: “We see at least 1m interactions per day through the app but with Holition’s help, we’ve been able to transform dots and dashes into a stylish and engaging piece of art. It’s not only aesthetically appealing but will be useful for the many retailers we work with in helping them visualise the buying patterns of our audiences at different times of the day/week.”
One of the most relevant applications for virtual try-ons has got to be for the beauty industry. Walk in to any retailer and the cosmetic counter is relatively restrictive in terms of actually being able to see what a certain eyeshadow or shade of lipstick looks like on your face.
Ease, simplicity, seamless interactions are what we’re after when shopping today, meaning dabbling with a dodgy tester or being patient enough to wait for one of the sales associates to apply products for you, doesn’t usually cut it. If you’re anything like me therefore, you have a drawer full of 20+ red lippies, most of which just aren’t quite right.
Which is why I’m excited about “Face”. This is a virtual reality app created by London-based digital creative studio Holition that allows you to see exactly what the make-up you’ve selected will appear like when you put it on. Others have tried this before, but Holition have nailed it in terms of the tracking technology – meaning it does actually attach the product to your lips, your eyes, your cheeks and more, as though you were just looking in a mirror.
With an inventory of over one million items from more than 9,000 global fashion designers and retail stores, not to mention a solid group of actively purchasing consumers (a record $10m in sales was generated in a recent month), it might come as no surprise to hear Lyst has also got a lot in the way of data.
The once social curation site, now e-commerce platform, recently showcased that fact in collaboration with Holition.The latter created a projection that visualised the vast amount of data Lyst receives daily, in real-time. As per the video below, it documented around 250,000 items of clothing and accessories on the screen at any one time. Prices were shown, as were brands, combined designed to enable the viewer to understand and spot popular trends.
This “engaging and colourful piece of digital art”, as Holition refers to it, was on show at Lyst Studios, the company’s headquarters, in Shoreditch, London.
Said Holition CTO, Russell Freeman: “[Lyst] sucks up a huge amount of information every day and we wanted to be able to visualise that in a really beautiful way.”
Lyst, which launched in 2010, has also just announced what it refers to as a “complete brand refresh”. A new logo, a content-led homepage (as below) and a redesign across desktop, tablet and mobile are included. Working in partnership with creative agency Wednesday, the company has introduced a new aesthetic that it refers to as “modern, bolder and more distinctive”.
Chris Morton, Lyst CEO and cofounder, said: “We’ve spent much of the last four years focussed on building a deeply engaging product that delivers a truly personalised shopping experience for each of our millions of users around the world, and that’s now generating very meaningful sales for our partner brands and stores globally. I’m delighted that we have now been able to turn more attention to our brand, with this new identity and content based homepage forming the first of several exciting brand- led initiatives in the coming months.”
The move comes off the back of the aforementioned successful sales figures as well as the fact the company is on track to grow 400% year-on-year for the third year in a row. Its universal checkout launched in 2013, which enables shoppers to buy from different fashion brands and stores in one basket on Lyst’s website and mobile apps, is reportedly behind the growth.