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L?Oréal Paris taps mobile app to help women find perfect hair color shade

L?Oréal Paris is taking the guesswork out of choosing the right hair color shade with the release of a new mobile application that serves as a personal color consultant.

The My L?Oréal Colorist app is available for free download in Apple?s App Store. L?Oréal has been ramping up its mobile efforts over the past few years and is constantly looking at ways to offer users a unique experience.

?We're constantly thinking of ways to improve the shopper?s experience ? from exceptional customer service to educating consumers on the products right for them," said David Hutchinson, vice president of hair color marketing at L?Oréal Paris. '

"We know how busy today?s woman is, which is why we set out to create a diagnostic tool that could be accessed anywhere," he said. "Our aim was to allow women to be able to find their perfect hair color by answering just a few simple questions, or by picking up a product from the shelf and finding out very quickly if it is right for her by just scanning the bar code. 

"Mobile technology offered the best solution ? it allowed us to provide the consultation of an expert colorist in the palm of the consumer?s hand, whether she is in store or at home. We set out to develop an easy, convenient, fast, accurate and high-quality experience, and so far the reaction from our consumers has been incredible.?

L?Oréal partnered with R/GA to develop the app.

Color me mobile
The L?Oréal Paris mobile app prompts users to either Scan a Shade or Find a Shade.

Through the Scan a Shade feature, consumers can use their mobile device to scan the UPC bar code of the L?Oréal Paris hair color product and shade they are interested in.

The Find a Shade feature lets both at-home and on-the-go users take a short questionnaire before learning their shade recommendation.

Additionally, via the app, consumers can browse customer ratings and reviews to see what others have to say.

Users can also use the app to get a detailed description of each of L?Oréal's product lines.

The company has also incorporated social media into the app. Consumers can share their recommended shade, as well as get feedback from friends before making a purchase.

A mobile app such as this is a great way to boost brand awareness.

Consumers are constantly using their mobile devices to do day-to-day activities. Therefore, having a mobile presence is crucial.

?As the app is such a key service tool, we have been communicating it on all media touch-points," Mr. Hutchinson said. "From print and digital media to coupons and point-of-sale, the consumer is educated and prompted to download the app and find her perfect hair color shade. 

"To engage consumers and further educate them on the benefits of the app, we worked with a leading YouTube beauty vlogger to create a step-by-step video tutorial, which was distributed over the wire and is being heavily promoted via public relations to top beauty and trade media to get the word out," he said. 

"We were committed to creating a tutorial video to physically show our consumers just how easy the app is to navigate.?

On the right track
L?Oréal has been ramping up its mobile efforts in the past few months.

Earlier this year, the company introduced a new shopping experience within New York taxi cabs that let consumers view how-to videos featuring Yves Saint Laurent and Lancome beauty products and buy them on the spot (see story).

Most recently, L?Oréal's Vichy beauty line encouraged users to learn more about its products by letting New York residents schedule 15-minute beauty consultations through a mobile application (see story).

?L?Oréal Paris? mobile strategy embodies the concept of ?omni beauty,?" Mr. Hutchinson said. "Basically, this means providing the customer with instant access to beauty advice, inspiration, recommendations and more ? wherever she may be. 

"Mobile is key in allowing L?Oréal Paris to provide our consumers with 24-hour access to all things beauty including personalized product recommendations and expertise," he said. 

"The ?My L?Oréal Colorist? app is one way that L?Oréal Paris can provide service and value to consumers right at the product wall using the device she has in her purse to help her select the right hair color for her.?

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York