Rimmel is aiming to fight beauty cyberbullying with a new online tool driven by artificial intelligence called the Cybersmile Assistant.
The initiative aims to create a safe space for those bullied about their appearance through negative or abusive comments on their social media channels. It enables them to share their experience and find solutions, with the chatbot assistant recommending approved organizations, helplines and local resources.
The Coty-owned cosmetics brand created the tool as part of a long-term partnership with the Cybersmile Foundation, a non-profit aiming to end all forms of cyberbullying. It will live on the Cybersmile website from early 2019 in English, with additional language versions launching at a later date.
Sara Wolverson, vice president of global marketing at Rimmel, commented: “As a global beauty company, Coty wants to contribute solutions that can positively impact prejudice and discrimination that stand in the way of self-expression and to raise awareness to affect positive changes in behaviour.”
The activation is part of a larger initiative launched this week by Rimmel called #IWILLNOTBEDELETED, which aims to empower victims who would otherwise feel pressured to delete their social media accounts.
As part of this, the brand released a report together with Coty, which interviewed 11,000 young women across the ages 16-25 in 10 countries and identified that one in four had experienced beauty cyberbullying.
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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.
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.