After a year of enforced store closures and continuing COVID restrictions, the beauty industry has had to react quickly to alternate methods of educating and inspiring customers. From skincare guidance to makeup inspiration, the traditional hands-on approach was gone and the technology revolution began in earnest.

The plethora of how-to videos, live masterclasses and webinars offered engaging but distanced guidance for consumers. The opportunity to discover a new product range, a lipstick for example, was possible but the confidence from the consumer to buy a shade that suited them required a richer technology experience.

Supporting this new online-only customer behaviour with technology for the beauty and cosmetics industry never had such exclusivity. Where lockdown created physical distance, technology had the opportunity to create a new kind of intimacy between brand and customer.

Enter the land of virtual try-on where for the past few years, BeautyLabs have been creating ‘best in class’ augmented reality experiences for brands globally.

“It’s not enough to upload a picture of yourself, for the technology to overlay that image with the product, an eyeshadow for example. The overlay is clumsy, the user experience is long and the end result is unsatisfactory. Consumers expect to be delighted by real time experiences and that great impression from the AR technology allowing them to feel confident in the product, extends to confidence in the brand they’re buying from.” Chris Smith – VP Technology, BeautyLabs.

For the brands who had already been experimenting with AR and AI in their digital platforms, the head start proved advantageous. From hair colours to lip shades to false lashes, consumers were now able to experiment in confidence and with confidence, creating commercial gains in the process.

The playful fun that can be found in cosmetics had a captive audience and that audience needed distraction from the dire global situation. The enjoyment of using technology such as BeautyLabs virtual try-on is something they started to share in their social networks, creating organic viral marketing and providing an unexpected bonus for the brands involved.

The commercial impact of digital services for the beauty industry is still being measured, with the past year requiring measurement and metrics against new and unexpected benchmarks.

Rakuten Advertising have published figures that show consistent high growth on clicks in the beauty and personal care category on advertisements or content within its affiliate network.

Figures from 2020 compared with 2019 show an increase of 7% in Q1, 45% in Q2 and 56% in Q3. They also tracked a significant increase in orders placed using an affiliate link in the same category.

Whilst we wait to assess the detailed financial analysis of the pandemic cycles on the industry, these advertising led figures show great promise.

Beauty and cosmetics consumers typically have high expectations. Being one step ahead of what they want and delivering it exceptionally well could keep the brands invested in beauty technology at the top of the industry.

One certainty is that consumers now expect retailers to have multiple touchpoints, both physical and digital. With every potential for further lockdowns, future proofing your consumer connection with AR technology such as a virtual try-on platform should be without question.