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Sephora augmented reality mirror reflects sales potential of digital sampling

Sephora, a leading specialty retailer in beauty announced partnership in the Milan location launch of a new 3D augmented reality mirror by ModiFace that simulates cosmetics on a user’s face photo-realistically in real-time, with expectations to transform how women shop for cosmetics.

The augmented reality technology, which was first debuted at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, expects to make color testing easier by simulating makeup products on a user’s face to show what they would look like in real-time and without having to upload a photo. Created by ModiFace, the technology is also being introduced  to standalone retail kiosks equipped with a touchscreen monitor and camera, as well as a mobile application that can be used on tablets at beauty counters or on consumers’ own handheld devices. While 2D try-on tech has been increasing in popularity among online and in-store merchants, ModiFace said 3D is naturally progressive step.

“In 2D try-on, the goal is that interacting and virtually trying on makeup or skin products will lead to an increase in sales,” said Dr. Parham Aarabi, founder and CEO of ModiFace, Toronto.

“In many cases, this works well, especially with mobile apps. However, in retail settings, 2D can be slow and cumbersome since you have to wait, pose for a photo and wait for the result.”

“In these cases, a mirror-like real-time 3D virtual simulation would be the ultimate marketing tool,” he said.

Mirror, mirror
Deciding between beauty products can be daunting, as traditional experimentation consists of applying different products, removing them, and then repeating the process.

The Sephora interface tracks the precise location of a user’s facial features and applies eye shadow colors directly on the video feed from a camera.

Sephora customers have access to sampling numerous cosmetic colors instantaneously and virtually simply by tapping on a shade palette on the Beauty Mirror screen. Users may preview unique textures of eye shadow including those with glitter, sparkle and shine elements.

As triallers turn their face from side to side, they can view all products from different angles to more quickly and confidently make informed purchasing decisions.

The 3D AR mirror claims to be the world’s first photo-realistic 3D mirror, and is the result of over three years of research and development.

Try-on technology
Estee Lauder’s Bobbi Brown Cosmetics line has too been artistic in using augmented reality.

Last October, the luxury brand implemented an interactive print-to-mobile campaign powered by Blippar that enabled users to browse and purchase beauty products by scanning a picture. A landing page would then present itself with several different calls-to-action from which consumers could choose from, the most popular being a dramatic smoky eye look.

Additionally, Maybelline ran a campaign as well last year that leveraged AR to let consumers virtually test nail polish shades. And CoverGirl is inclusive in AR initiatives, and featured the tech as a component to a print media buy last fall.

Digital dress-up
Cosmetic brands are seemingly flocking to augmented reality due to its effectiveness in showcasing product use cases to ultimately drive sales.

Beauty brands ascertain creative assets and are responsible for making them realized through interactive experiences. Augmented reality allows consumers to participate with and not solely access information, becoming a trigger for the discovery of new products and catalyst for instilling purchase confidence.

“Consumers today are used to and prone to engaging with the world around them in ways never before imagined. It is well-known that retention of messages and engagement with a brand is directly correlated to the degree of interactivity of a given experience,” Blippar’s Ms. Hu said.

“Campaigns that utilize AR to create content-rich interactive experiences are ideal for tech savvy consumers, who typically have shorter attention spans and do not respond as well to print or video advertising.

“The biggest challenge to using AR is ensuring that there’s value in the experience. Consumers are not interested in gimmicks, so when targeting demographics, we aim to create AR experiences that are fun, engaging and relevant to the audience we’re trying to reach,” she said.

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York