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Microsoft’s $1bn carbon reduction investment, ASOS’ AR tool, men’s makeup at John Lewis

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

Top Stories
  • Microsoft will invest $1 billion into carbon reduction and removal technologies (MIT Technology Review)
  • Asos trials augmented reality fit tool (Drapers)
  • War Paint and John Lewis launch first ever men’s makeup counter (Fashion Network)
Technology
  • The tech driving next-gen customer service (Vogue Business)
  • Revolve integrates Snap+Style technology for digital communication (Fashion United)
  • How luxury retail can become a tech accelerator (Jing Daily)
  • Google Cloud launches new solutions for retailers (TechCrunch)
  • How Starbucks uses AI to counter mobiles isolating effect (Mobile Marketer)
  • Walmart expands robots to 650 additional stores (Retail Dive)
  • Stein Mart introduces ‘smart button’ for BOPIS shoppers (Retail Dive)
  • Augmented reality contacts are real, and could be here sooner than you think (Mashable)
  • Robots are changing retail, but not where you can see them (Modern Retail)
  • Gaming dominates the $120bn spent on mobile apps in 2019 (Warc)
  • Amazon is reportedly developing a hand-scanning payment option (Adweek)
  • Walgreens is training staff in virtual reality (Charged Retail)
  • How digital garment printing answers the call for customization (Sourcing Journal)
Sustainability & Purpose
  • What’s your fashion footprint? ThredUp’s quiz will tell you (Adweek)
  • Stella McCartney introduces biodegradable stretch denim (Fashion United)
  • Walpole launches its British luxury sustainability manifesto (Retail Gazette)
  • Your e-commerce addiction means delivery emissions could increase 30% by 2030 (Fast Company)
  • H&M’s AI operation helps make its supply chain more sustainable (Supply Chain Dive)
  • Jacket Required dedicates third of show to sustainable brands (The Industry)
  • Dyehouses are cleaning up their act (Vogue Business)
  • Could fashion’s next major fabric brand be green? (BoF)
  • Fast Retailing signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action (Retail in Asia)
  • Quorn introduces carbon-footprint labelling (Stylus)
  • Lush’s Mark Constantine: the retail rebel fighting climate change before Great was born (Retail Week)
Retail & Commerce
  • Walmart opens cashierless store in Florida (Grocery Dive)
  • Shiseido opens ‘beauty innovation hub’ in Shanghai (Retail in Asia)
  • Bose is closing all of its retail stores (The Verge)
  • Dior, Rimowa take over Harrods (WWD)
  • Opening Ceremony to close all stores (Drapers)
Marketing & Social Media
  • Instagram begins hiding photoshopped images (Hypebeast)
  • Burberry launches online game to celebrate Lunar New Year (Fashion United)
  • Facebook rethinks plan to insert ads into WhatsApp (Campaign)
  • Segmentation is dead! (Retail Dive)
Product
  • Ugg launches monthly product drops (Drapers)
  • New Under Armour sneaker will offer connected coaching (Sourcing Journal)
  • Hermès launches beauty (Fashion United)
  • Nike’s Vaporfly marathon shoes face a potential ban from competition (Quartz)
  • Is 2020 the year men’s makeup will go mainstream? (Evening Standard)
Business
  • Louis Vuitton buys the second largest rough diamond in the world (Fashion United)
  • Old Navy will stay under Gap umbrella (Adweek)
  • Pitti Immagine CEO on the future of trade shows (BoF)
  • Casper files for IPO (Retail Dive)
  • Off-White operator acquires Opening Ceremony (Drapers)
  • Amazon ramps up counterfeit reporting (BoF)
  • Boohoo to surpass forecasts after 44% jump in quarterly revenues (Retail Gazette)
Culture
  • The idea of beauty is always shifting. Today, its more inclusive than ever (National Geographic)
  • How the gaming industry is changing across the world (Quartz)
  • Redefining plus size – dressing the ‘average’ woman in Europe (Fashion United)
  • Why this community of hypebeasts only buy fakes (Dazed)
  • Comme des Garçons accused of racism in AW20 menswear show (Fashion United)
  • A-COLD-WALL* isn’t making streetwear anymore (i-D)

How are you thinking about innovation? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Retail

Magnum partners with Benefit for interactive pop-up in Shanghai

Magnum hosted a temporary beauty store in partnership with Benefit offering products and experiential activities to celebrate the launch of its new premium flavor range.

Taking place at the Réel Mall in Shanghai the pop-up made use of augmented reality and an interactive LED wall to bring its “Release your Beast” theme to life. A lion, polar bear, leopard and tiger were viewable as 3D characters, which visitors could take pictures with in a photobooth and then share on social media.

At the Benefit Beauty Bar, guests could test the brand’s latest products and book make-up artists. The environment included life-sized Benefit eyebrow pens and giant customized ice-cream installations.

The pop-up had a total of seven zones with a variety of activities. It attracted around 25,000 guests during the time it was open (May 24 to June 9).

Magnum has used the concept of “Release the Beast” in a couple of campaigns. In 2017, it teamed-up with fashion brand Moschino for a film on the theme starring Cara Delevingne and Jeremy Scott. Before that, to launch the Magnum Double ice cream in Singapore, it asked guests to release the beast of their passions in fashion, art, music and taste.

How are you thinking about immersive experiences? Want to learn more about how we worked with Google? The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to hear more.

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Campaigns product Retail technology

Coty’s mixed reality experience helps customers find the perfect fragrance

Beauty group Coty has launched an experience that uses touch, smell, sight and sound to immerse customers into a virtual environment and help them find their perfect fragrance.

According to the brand, it aims to enhance the customer’s purchasing journey by guiding them through an emotional experience rather than one that is often led by confusing or marketing-driven vocabulary.

“When we set out on this project, our aim was to create a future facing retail experience that merged the physical and digital worlds to help users navigate the rich and complex world of fragrances,” says Elodie Levy, senior director, digital innovation at Coty. “The result provides shoppers with an incredible experience that marries art, science, and technology.  The technological breakthrough of mixing real scents with virtual reality is unprecedented.”

Customers who want to take part have to put on a VR headset and choose one of five different scented stones, each representing one of the perfumes from Coty’s portfolio – such as Gucci’s “Bloom” – , which are all white and only differentiated by texture.

Coty's mixed reality experience
Gucci’s “Bloom” experience in VR

After choosing the stone, the headset will transport the customer to a virtual environment, made up of both visual and sound elements, which aims to reflect properties of each individual perfume.

For Gucci “Bloom” experience, for example, users are transported to a greenhouse filled with larger-than-life roses and other flowers.  

At the end, a touchscreen reveals which scent the user was experiencing. 

The experience first launched in Buenos Aires, and the group plans on rolling it out to other retail partners and brands within its portfolio in the future.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so.TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce Retail technology

Coty launches hair color app for Google Assistant

Coty’s Clairol brand has launched a new app for the Google Assistant platform that talks consumers through the entire at-home hair dyeing process – from finding the right shade to aftercare.

The ‘Clairol Color Expert’ is triggered when the user says “Hey Google, talk to Clairol”. From then on the app (or Action, as it is called on the Google Assistant platform), talks users through finding the ride dye shade to suit their needs, how to apply the color, re-apply, and take care of their hair at home, with no professional help.

“In beauty, service is the new product, and for consumers, the real value of a product is not just what’s in the box, but the expertise and service that comes with it,” says Fred Gerantabee, Coty’s VP of digital innovation. “We worked with Google, who helped us identify insights around known category challenges combined with how (and where) beauty consumers are using voice assistants. By delivering Clairol expertise through the unique Google Assistant ecosystem we are able to transform the at home hair color experience and truly help Clairol consumers feel confident that they will get better results with a lifeline and expert at every step of their journey.”

For the beauty group, the Google Assistant, which is currently available on 500 million devices from Google Home speakers to smart TVs, is the ideal platform for its target audience of women aged 18 to 34, who buy at home color. Being able to access it through a myriad of different devices completely hands-free is an important tool to help women overcome the challenges of coloring their own hair, says the brand, which is often the reason why they choose to go to professional salons instead.

Although it is still lagging behind the Amazon Alexa ecosystem in terms of consumer adoption, the Google Assistant has been gaining traction with more and more brands and retailers creating Actions for the platform, such as Nike and Sephora.

Meanwhile earlier this year, Coty also announced the introduction of a beauty skill for the Amazon Alexa Echo platform, which features a screen, allowing users to get beauty tutorials from brands across its portfolio.  

Seemingly the initiative wasn’t just a marketing exercise but an opportunity for both customer acquisition and conversion. According to the brand, 95% of users interacting with the experience were pleased with the result, with 80% of them new customers to Coty’s brands. The skill also resulted in 7.5x higher click through rate than an average Amazon media campaign. 

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns e-commerce technology

Cosmopolitan adds shoppable virtual try-on to print mag

Cosmopolitan
Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan magazine is adding a shoppable virtual try-on capability to its print issues that will enable readers to experiment with beauty looks and then buy them via Macy’s.

The feature is being launched in partnership with the US department store, which is also rolling out the technology in store.

A Cosmo reader must download selfie camera app YouCam and scan specific cosmetics featured on the magazine, to then be able to superimpose looks on their faces. The looks are then shoppable via Macy’s online.

The move comes off the back of research that shows 73% of readers want to be able to try on products featured in the magazine virtually, Cosmopolitan publisher Donna Lagani notes. She also mentions that the average millennial takes around four selfies a week.

The new feature launches in partnership with Macy’s in the magazine’s October issue, with new looks rolling out every month thereafter.

Cosmopolitan has increasingly developed tools to bridge the gap between its print issues and the digital sphere, in order to engage with its young, mobile-savvy audience. In 2015, it became Snapchat’s partner when the social media app launched the Discover feature promoting content such as Live Stories to immense success. At the time, its Discover stories were shared up to 1.2m times a day, while receiving on average 3m views overall.

The move also comes heavily off the back of huge growth in augmented reality beauty try-on from brands across the industry. Most notably is the recent acquisition of startup Modiface by L’Oréal. Being able to experiment with different make-up in a virtual sense is becoming increasingly commonplace as a result.

How are you thinking about digital engagement? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns film

SK-II launches campaign to empower women to embrace their age

The Expiry Date - SK-II
The Expiry Date – SK-II

Japanese beauty brand SK-II has launched its #INeverExpire campaign in the US after a successful reception in China, focusing on empowering women to embrace their age.

The campaign centers around a video called The Expiry Date, which has so far garnered over 100 million views globally and opened a discussion on Asian age-related pressures. To make the content more relevant to the American audience, the brand chose key influencers, among them actress Chloe Bennet, who kicked off the campaign this week, and #Girlboss founder Sophia Amoruso.

In total five women are starring in a series of video interviews, which will be released throughout this week, where they discuss the premise of the campaign and from their personal viewpoint, the societal pressures they believe are put on women in the US.

SK-II has been playing in this space for some time. Its most famous campaign to date is the Marriage Market Takeover, which highlighted China’s “leftover” women –  women above age 25 who are deemed too old to be marriage material. The viral video showcases so-called “marriage markets” that take place all over the country and see families putting out ads for the marriage of their female offspring. It then ends in an emotional message of Asian women defending their singledom status to their families. It was viewed over 1.2 million times in one day.

The#INeverExpire campaign, as well the Marriage Market Takeover, both sit under SK-II’s brand philosophy titled: Change Destiny. Launched globally in 2015, the ethos focuses on communicating female empowerment through a series of campaigns and other marketing activities that encourage women to take charge of their own destinies.

Marriage Market Takeover by SK-II
Marriage Market Takeover by SK-II

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Editor's pick product

L’Oréal provides personalization with launch of on-demand skincare at SXSW

L'Oréal's CUSTOM D.O.S.E
L’Oréal’s CUSTOM D.O.S.E

L’Oréal is honing in on the trend for personalization in beauty with the launch of CUSTOM D.O.S.E at SXSW today, a technological service that can scan and evaluate an individual consumer’s skin and create tailor made serums as a result.

Developed for L’Oréal-owned skincare brand SkinCeuticals, D.O.S.E will act as a personal skincare lab, says Guive Balooch, global VP of the French conglomerate’s Technology Incubator, who worked on the project. “D.O.S.E acts like a mini skincare laboratory, combining lab grade formulation and factory grade manufacturing into a machine that sits on the counter. As we pursue our mission of beauty for all, we are inspired by the challenge of using technology and design to create innovative beauty experiences custom made for each consumer,” he says.

D.O.S.E’s pioneering technology is able to mix active ingredients – chosen to target the appearance of ageing skin, including specific issues such as wrinkles and discoloration – into a single serum. During the production process, a compounder can mix ingredients precisely drop by drop, combining active ingredients that historically were not able to be mixed outside a factory setting. This means skincare professionals can administer individual serums, for which through research L’Oréal has developed dozens of combinations for. To develop the service, the beauty giant researched more than 250 unique skin types.

“Our customers are consistently concerned with skin aging and discoloration, among various skin conditions that require a personalized approach to address them,” said Christina Fair, general manager of SkinCeuticals. “The D.O.S.E technology empowers skincare professionals to co-create personalized formulas that address patients’ unique skincare needs on the spot, in minutes. We’ve created a better ecosystem for them to offer enhanced experiences for their patients using technology to address specific skin concerns.”

The D.O.S.E experience begins with a one-to-one consultation with a professional who can advise the customer on the most relevant active ingredients to suit their skin. Following the assessment, all data is transferred to a D.O.S.E machine that mixes and dispenses the serum ready for use. Bottles are addressed with custom labels that include an expiration date and barcode for reordering.

The March 8 launch, hosted at media platform Fast Company’s Grill house during SXSW, is also showcasing L’Oréal Professionnel’s Style My Hair app, which suggests real-time 3D hair color services, as launched in January this year. Additionally on display is the Lancôme Le Teint Particulier custom blend foundation experience, which similarly to D.O.S.E begins with an expert consultation and ends with a made to measure formula that is blended at point of sale.

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Blocks Comment technology

YSL Beauté launches Google Glass tutorials in Selfridges, WiFi issues impact experience

ysl_googleglass2

Yves Saint Laurent Beauté launched Google Glass make-up tutorials in its consignment at Selfridges department store in London last week. First offered at Bloomingdales in New York in September, these consultations have sparked quite a bit of press excitement. They’ve accordingly been a great way for the brand to pull in new customers, but the execution appears to be a little patchy.

The tutorials need to be booked in advance and take 45 minutes. The experience is similar to any other make-up consultation: the artist applies the beauty products to one half of the face, shows the customer the results in a mirror, and then applies make-up to the other half of the face, all-the-while explaining what they are doing and why.

What makes a Google Glass tutorial enticing is that the device records the entire procedure. After the makeover is completed, customers are sent a video of it via email, including before/after shots and a list of the products used. The video can be played back at any time, serving as a tutorial for how to apply the make-up in the future.

The advantages of this for YSL are plentiful. Aside from growing its email database, it allows the company to gather data on which items are most suited to the customer demographic at Selfridges, and which items receive the most post-consultation attention. It could likely also inform future customised product recommendations.

ysl_googleglass1

According to a make-up artist at the Selfridges YSL counter, the service is in demand and customers have been scheduling in appointments. There’s just one problem: the WiFi connection has been playing up, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to email the videos within the promised 20-minute timeframe after a consultation.

It’s a common issue: innovative ideas are challenging to execute, especially when they involve the introduction of new technology. Often, it comes down to difficulties in the technology on-boarding process. The existing systems in place may not be sophisticated enough to carry or support the technology. And without the follow-up video, the Google Glass consultation is no different to any other make-up consultation. And being promised a video within 20 minutes and not receiving it until at least a few hours later can lead to quite an amount of frustration for the consumer.

While this fixture may incentivise customers to book their make-up consultancy at YSL instead of at a different brand in the famous department store this season, it seems likely that the excitement around it will subside. It might prove to be a case of “been there, done that”. Either way, it’s a fun way for shoppers to get their party-face on, and it showcases YSL in a more innovative light than many of its competitors, or indeed that’s been seen before.

Images via fashion.telegraph.co.uk