Beauty is AI deep, brings pleasure and profit

When most of the brands think AI is a bit stretch or VR/AR is too gimmicky at this stage, the beauty sector is actually willing and has the capability to lavish tons of cash on these latest technologies.

You must already have heard of:

Sephora’s Virtual Artist app

It has been in the market for a while. Last year it introduced a color match tool powered by AI, which can detect and accurately estimate the skin shade in any photo and match it with a lip, eyeshadow or cheek products available at Sephora.

Estée Lauder AR training

Its AR is not just for customers. Collaborated with a startup Perfect Corp, last year December it rolled out first ever AR makeup education program for the brand’s over 17,000 Beauty Advisors around the world. The interactive live stream platform hosts real-time trainings and product briefings, in which the brand’s Beauty Advisors can view and engage with directly from their mobile. 

Olay skin advisor

It is an online consultation platform that can estimate the age of a user’s skin from a selfie. By applying AI to both evaluate and determine problem areas, as well as the overall condition of the skin, it provides personalized skincare routines and reports.

L’Oreal 3D hair color app

L’Oreal’s newly announced AR hair color app, created in partnership with Modiface, allows users to try on a new hair color in real time. While the AR component allows customers to try on different styles digitally, it’s the introduction of AI that captures the user’s hair, strand by strand, to offer the most accurate look possible.

If you are not that impressed, famous beauty brands have not slowed down their pace. They are determined to either incubate their own startups, such as L’Oreal’s Founders Factory, or simply snapping up them.

In March this year, L’Oreal just purchased a leading AR beauty company Modiface. However, Shiseido has been acting even more aggressively.

-In January 2017, it acquired Match.co,  which scans users’ selfies to identify their skin tone and creates custom makeup blends

-In November 2017, it bought Giaran, an instant and interactive virtual makeup robot company.

-In January 2018, one more leading startup Olivo Laboratories, specializing in artificial skin technology was under Shiseido’s thumb.

In China, the next waves beauty sector needs to capitalize on should be the voice and live streaming shoppable video. L’Oreal is again the trendsetter here.

For instance,

-A voice guided “butler” developed with L’Oreal Paris’s men cosmetics brand Men Expert, which can provide personalized skin care tips as well as shop for men skin care based on a conversation with the consumer.

-L’Oreal Paris in cooperation with Alibaba created a connected voice-enabled mirror that can shop directly on Tmall for makeup products based on the looks selected by the consumer.

-L’Oreal Paris WeChat miniprogram storefront turned this year Cannes Film Festival into the live-streaming video while made the content shoppable as well. Nevertheless, it is said the storefront operations, from payment, logistics, warehouse, to customer service, are actually powered by Vipshop, China’s leading online discount e-commerce for brands, invested by Tencent.

Beauty is actually a rare sector in which many cutting-edge innovations would make sense for an instant test, thus bring out immediate pleasures for end customers. 

Author: Cecilia Wu