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Sephora shapes mobile personalization with tailored, step-by-step experience

Addressing millennial shoppers’ desire for fast, personalized mobile experiences, Sephora today launches a new service on its mobile site and application, Pocket Contour Class, to provide tailored, step-by-step instructions for makeup application.

The virtual makeup artist solution was developed in partnership with startup Map My Beauty, whose technology enables users to upload a selfie and have it automatically analyzed. The solution then provides tips for how to apply makeup based on the user’s facial features along with product recommendations.

“Mobile is the perfect way to solve two of the biggest problems when it comes to contouring,” said Bridget Dolan, vice president of innovation for Sephora. “First, helping women determine their face shape, which is more difficult than many people realize.

“We can use technology to crack that problem, using a device they already have,” she said. “Second is learning where to put the makeup on her own face.

“The mobile phone is a great way for us to empower people at home to learn the techniques.”

Shaping mcommerce
Pocket Contour is launching today in the Sephora to Go app and on the retailer’s mobile site.

The effort is in response to Sephora’s recent identification of contouring as a trend taking hold. However, because contouring can be tricky to master, Sephora recognized a need to educate and empower customers to create the look themselves.

Sephora will further support the trend with in-store displays all around contouring.

The experience starts with several examples of what contouring looks like on different face shapes.

From there, users are urged to snap a photo of themselves with their hair tied back and wearing minimal makeup. Once the photo has been uploaded, users are asked to choose their favorite type of makeup – stick, powder or cream.

Next, users are presented with five steps to contour their face, consisting of prep, highlight, contour, blend and finish. At each step, one screen explains what to do and another displays their selfie with the areas of where to apply or blend makeup highlighted.

Along the way, users are also encouraged to try to a contouring brush, specific brands of makeup and finishing products.

At the end, users can enter their email to save their custom steps and share a contoured image of themselves with friends.

Getting personal
The contouring app is an example of how mobile experiences are being personalized to better resonate with users on what is a very personal devices.

It also exemplifies how to simplify mobile experiences, an important strategy given the small screens on smartphones.

“We know that our clients are digitally savvy, constantly using their phones, both in-store and at home, to discover beauty trends and products or access videos to learn how to create new looks,” Ms. Dolan said.

Both strategies are particularly relevant in the beauty category, where there are numerous color and formula choices as well as multiple-step application procedures.

For example, last summer L’Oreal Paris incorporated in-image advertising platform GumGum’s photo recognition technology to pick up on the hair colors of consumers in photos to promote its Ombre hair color campaign (see story).

Map My Beauty hopes to bring the technology to more brands and retailers in the future.

Mobile makeover
The mobile contouring experience is the latest example of how Sephora continues to lead the way in mobile retail.

Last week, the beauty retailer initiated its first sweepstakes on Snapchat, a photo-sharing application for smartphones and tablets, to build its database of social media followers (see story).

Last summer, Sephora partnered with ModiFace on a 3D augmented reality mirror by that simulates cosmetics on a user’s face photo-realistically in real-time (see story).

“Whereas other applications on the market only allow users to ‘try on’ beauty products, Map My Beauty focuses on helping consumers maximize the value proposition of products by showing consumers how they can look their best in the products and exactly how and where to apply them based on their unique facial features,” said Annabella Daily, CEO and founder of Map My Beauty.

“Instead of a virtual try-on, which is great at the point of purchase when you are trying to decide on a color, Map My Beauty is a virtual tutorial that helps you perfect your look,” she said.

“It helps you not just at the point of purchase, but will become a daily asset as you apply your look and for when you want to change up your look. “

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York