Opinion: Future of in-store beauty retail

Mixed reality is poised to change the game of in-store beauty retail, says Sian James-Royle, director of The Yard Creative.

No longer constrained, the world of beauty is more accessible than ever before. According to Euromonitor International, the online channel for global cosmetics increased in value by 14.4 per cent year over year as of 2015.

Information has reached over-load status. At the touch of a button there are vloggers, selfie makeovers, how-to tutorials and skin shade apps. Knowledge is everywhere. Yet, identifying the right cosmetic products and discovering new beauty techniques remains a major challenge in an ever-expanding market place.

The global cosmetics market is estimated to reach 675 billion USD by 2020 (growing at a rate of 6.4 per cent). Unlike other retail sectors being cannibalised by online, the beauty sector seems to be withstanding the ecommerce onslaught. Even though 70 per cent of women research beauty online, only 10 per cent actually make a purchase online, which means 90 per cent of those women are still going to the store to purchase.

The act of buying beauty and cosmetic products remains a tactile one with barriers to purchase being tangible product attributes such as colour matching, texture, coverage, perfume and quality – all of which can not be easily conveyed online.

Physical, in-store cosmetics retail is here to stay and will continue to play the leading role in both luxury and mass-market beauty sales. But how to elevate the in-store experience to stand out, attract and engage people into store?

Here at The Yard Creative, we believe that mixed reality will play a big part in the future of in-store beauty retail. Mixed reality experiences invite digital content into users real-time surroundings. This creates an environment where physical and digital objects co-exist, mimicking our natural behaviour of interaction; such as objects getting bigger as they get closer and the changing of perspectives as a user moves around an object.

Combining the use of several types of technologies including sensors, advanced optics and next gen computing power. All of this technology bundled into a single device creates scenarios that are unbelievably realistic and mind-blowing. Here are a few examples of mixed reality technology in the beauty arena:

FACE by Holition
An immersive virtual cosmetic experience where smartphones and tablets act as a mirror for consumers to apply different coloured lipsticks, eye shadow, blusher and foundation with different textures in real-time. Fully customisable for own brand and product ranges.

ModiFace Mirror features photo-realistic makeup/skin simulation, shade matching, glance-based product recommendations. ModiFace also has a number of other apps including Beautiful Me that advises your true skin tone and undertone, and what foundations are best for your skin as well as hair tone based on your social photos.

Mobile beauty filters
Using a modern smart phone and impressively strong facial recognition technology Snapchat (and other technology firms) can apply predefined 'filters' to any face. Creating a point-mask that matches to an individual face means it can move and mimic facial movements. Beauty filters can be sponsored and are perfectly placed for a beauty world foray.

Panasonic Smart Mirror
Debuted in October 2016, the mirror takes photos of a customer and identifies problem areas such as wrinkles, redness, pores and even sun damage beneath the skin that's invisible to the naked eye. Once problem areas are identified, the mirror will recommend products to correct every blemish.

Samsung Lumini
Lumini is a portable device. After taking a picture of the face with Lumini, the device analyses the information and sends it to a smartphone app. The device identifies issues under the surface of the skin, like pimples, freckles, increased pores, wrinkles, redness, and sebum. It then recommends cosmetic products based on the analysis.

Mixed reality technology will help to bring about a reinvention of the physical retail space. It will have a transformative effect on the customer journey and the way shoppers experiment and explore new products. The trick will be how brands develop it to be more than just a gimmick, making it a helpful and relevant shopping tool.


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