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L?Oreal?s Makeup Genius app for beauty testing focuses on experience

Beauty marketer L?Oreal Paris has released its Makeup Genius, a mobile application that allows consumers to virtually test beauty products. 

The user can create lists of her favorite products, but is unable to purchase directly through the app. Despite a lack of mobile commerce, L?Oreal?s Makeup Genius also offers the latest on beauty trends in the virtual space.

?The challenge with purchasing make-up online is it is one of those products that people would be hesitant to purchase without trying it on first,? said Danielle McCormick, senior director of marketing at Skava, San Francisco. ?However, beauty brands are continually advancing technology to overcome this hurdle to ensure they can make sure they maintain their market share of the ever growing e-commerce consumer.?

?This is a great idea,? said Atul Sabharwal, founder at Snipp, D.C. ?It allows for customers to always have L?Oreal in their pocket every time they want to do a color look up not only in store for makeup purchase but also while making related category purchases like new dresses or shoes. 

?Given the app?s flexibility to upload any picture and see the associated colors, it makes it super simple for the user to take the pain out of finding what shade suits their skin color or ensemble in general and virtually try before they buy,? he said. 

?By doing this, L?Oreal is not only making it stupidly simple for their consumers to find associated products from their portfolio but also discover the entire product range in a way tailored to what the user is interested in.?

Ms. McCormick and Mr. Sabharwal are not affiliated with L?Oreal, but agreed to comment as industry experts.

L?Oreal Paris did not comment by press deadline.

Reality check
L?Oreal?s app responds to facial movements, allowing the user to see how the makeup looks in real time. Users can choose from trying different products or beauty looks altogether. 

Products can be tested by manually scanning the bar code of a product or selecting from those provided on the app.

There are several tutorial videos that can be played directly from the app, promoting various products and creating unified beauty looks.

L?Oreal?s Connected Beauty Incubator, an associated branch of the retailer, created the app to give users the ability to virtually try on products before buying in the store, but the app?s augmented reality features may lack precision and practicality. 

Makeup Genius is available for free on iOS, and Android users should see a compatible version by 2015.

Mirrored beauty
Sephora, a leading specialty retailer in beauty, recently launched a similar project in Milan.

The retailer announced partnership 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 (see story).

L?Oreal continues to take steps toward digital experiences, saving time and modernizing capabilities.

By incorporating in-image advertising platform GumGum?s photo recognition technology, the beauty retailer aimed to target consumers through digital advertisements.

L?Oreal adopted GumGum?s image recognition technology to pick up on the hair colors of consumers in photos to promote its Ombre hair color campaign. L?Oreal attempted this digital marketing strategy to personalize advertisements based on the consumer and her specific hair color (see story). 

L?Oreal will likely continue to improve the app?s capabilities as well as its overall mobile presence.

?I think [the app] is a good indicator of the range of shades the customer should look in given the large selection available,? Mr. Sabharwal said. ?It takes the pain away in making a decision and ties it to color ranges in the customer?s mind.?

?Mobile purchasing would be nice, but L?Oreal has to be careful to avoid channel conflict by going direct to customer,? he said. ?The retailers might not appreciate a direct to customer model. 

?I am sure future versions of the app would and should enable a look up for stores that carry selected shades based on location.?

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Marketer, New York