Virtual reality is today a widespread, but still quite novel phenomenon. You have probably heard of VR in the gaming industry, as in the VR headsets. Moreover, VR is being used in healthcare, as in virtual reality diagnostics and virtual reality robotics. Similarly, VR can be used on the work floor, in the military, in sports, education and film. However, increasingly, companies are exploiting VR opportunities to engage their customers. L’Oréal is one of them.
L’Oréal’s Virtual Reality efforts
Recently, L’Oréal acquired Modiface, which is a beauty tech company which uses virtual reality to create augmented reality apps and AR mirrors (Moon, 2018). Next to L’Oréal, Modiface has created apps for Benefit, Sephora and Bixby Vision. By using the Modiface app, people can superimpose beauty products on their face and hair, using an uploaded selfie. As e-commerce is driving the beauty industry nowadays, L’Oréal hopes that once people stop buying their beauty products in brick-and-mortar stores, they will turn to L’Oréal’s VR app, and so, L’Oréal’s own products (Duan, 2018).
Next to acquiring Modiface, L’Oréal is collaborating with Facebook’s augmented reality platform (Lucio, 2018). By using this platform, customers will be able to try out all sorts of make-up by using Facebook’s AR camera. This could become one of L’Oréal’s smartest move, as for L’Oréal, social media networks have become the biggest growth driver of web sales in terms of attracting shopping traffic (Rayome, 2018).
“We are at that magical moment when technologies have matured enough and consumer appetite for using them is growing everywhere. We are very excited about that new step in our long-term partnership with Facebook. One fascinating aspect of this partnership is that it keeps us innovating the beauty user experience.” – Lubomira Rochet, 2018, L’Oréal Chief Digital Office
Buying make-up or trying on a new hair color is not an easy decision. Especially because L’Oréal’s products -which also include many high-end beauty brands, e.g. Lancôme– are quite pricey and therefore not an everyday routine decision. L’Oréal capitalizes on the customer’s desire for knowledge by offering their customers detailed information online, using AR technology. Moreover, by offering live stream make-up tutorials with make-up experts, L’Oréal tries to educate its customers. As such, L’Oréal tries to eliminate product uncertainty and make their customers feel confident and happy about their purchase.
However, another important aspect of customer engagement is customer entertainment. AR can help beauty brands entertain customers by including a sense of fun into searching for beauty products. For example, for Cannes Film Festival’s 20th anniversary, L’Oréal used its AR app to entertain users with 64 film-inspired, AR-powered make-up looks (Pezzini, 2018). This way, people could experience the red carpet feeling from home, and interact with L’Oréal’s beauty products. Moreover, by using the Genius make-up app, customers can try on hundreds of make-up looks without the need to actually try on or acquire the products, which may open a world of imagination and wonder, at least for some of us. As a large part of L’Oréal’s customers is still buying its products in-store (Jung, 2018), L’Oréal is not only experimenting with VR online, but also offline. For example, in China, L’Oréal has installed multiple “magic mirrors” in its stores. By looking into a real mirror, people can try on different make-up looks and order those products directly via their Genius app (Hsu, 2017).
Although customers are still taking baby steps regarding the use of virtual reality in the beauty sector, I definitely see a great success story in L’Oréal’s VR efforts. However, the development of the virtual reality apps and platform are just not enough. In order to sustain long-term customer engagement and retention, L’Oréal will need to make some more efforts. One such effort is building a strong community around its virtual reality activities. L’Oréal is on the right way of doing so. As aforementioned, L’Oréal recently acquired Veleza, which is start-up app-based community of beauty lovers which help members find products that match their personal needs. Moreover, people can give each other feedback and rate/review beauty products. However, by using the already established Veleza platform, L’Oréal is outsourcing its community establishment. This inquires an easy set-up and by doing so, it can acquire already existing members from Veleza, which is beneficial. However, this leads to a lower impact on their own brand and L’Oréal may have lower flexibility regarding design (Tsekouras, 2019). Therefore, I would recommend to L’Oréal to establish their own online community. This will not only enhance their brand, but it also directly relates to only their beauty products. To conclude, L’Oréal has the means and expertise to develop its own online community around a strong digital VR strategy, which could definitely lead to an even higher brand awareness and customer loyalty.
- Bleier, A., & Eisenbeiss, M. (2015). Personalized online advertising effectiveness: The interplay of what, when, and where. Marketing Science, 34(5), 669–688.
- Duan (2018). https://qz.com/quartzy/1230971/loreal-is-investing-big-in-virtual-reality-beauty-technology/
- Forbes (2017). https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2017/02/08/loreal-is-benefitting-from-a-higher-digital-spending/#27ae969843c1
- Hsu (2017). https://www.alizila.com/loreal-glams-new-retail-attract-customers-11-11/
- Jung (2018). https://webdata-solutions.com/en/2018/06/19/market-analysis-the-beauty-sector-in-change/
- Lucio (2018). https://insidefmcg.com.au/2018/08/13/loreal-explores-the-realms-of-virtual-reality-with-facebook/
- Lumbomira Rochet (2018). https://mediaroom.loreal.com/en/loreals-modiface-launches-long-term-augmented-reality-collaboration-with-facebook/
- Moon (2018). https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/18/loreal-buys-modiface/
- Pezzini (2018). https://www.lsretail.com/blog/beauty-brands-using-augmented-reality/
- Rayome (2018). https://www.techrepublic.com/article/loreal-partners-with-facebook-on-virtual-makeup-trials-cements-beauty-as-key-ar-use-case/
- Tsekouras (2019). Slides CCDC Session 6.