- Estée Lauder, the cosmetics brand with $11.3 billion in yearly sales, updated its mobile website to let consumers try on virtual makeup using augmented reality (AR), according to a press release. ModiFace, a developer of automatic face analysis software that is used by more than 200 web and mobile apps, provides the AR capability.
- Estée Lauder’s upgrade uses the new technology to emulate virtual surfaces and model the textures and finishes of its makeup products. ModiFace's latest generation of facial tracking technology helps to map the contours of the eyes and lips in live video through any webcam.
- Modiface’s technology is also used by beauty brands like Sephora, Allergan, L'Oréal, Unilever and Coty.
AR is taking off among beauty brands that see the potential in mobile applications, especially with younger consumers who like to share their makeup and clothing styles through social media. The beauty business has remained strong despite the shifting landscape of retail. The U.S. makeup industry rose 11% to $7.3 billion from February 2016 to February 2017, according to NPD Group data cited by the New York Times.
Cosmetics marketers are seeing major upheaval partially due to the sweeping success of stores like Sephora, which lets people sample a wide range of products before buying, oftentimes using digital tools and face scans to match skin tones to products. Other brands like L'Oréal and Meitu recently launched virtual makeup apps, so it’s not a stretch to expect that most fashion and cosmetics brands will eventually incorporate AR into their mobile capabilities to help people shop for beauty products online. However, such tools can be resource-intensive to develop, which is why brands like Estée Lauder are partnering with platforms like ModiFace for its technology and expertise.
The makeup company is beefing up its mobile presence as consumers spend more time online engaging with influencers through Instagram Stories, Snapchat and YouTube makeup tutorials. To many, these beauty bloggers replace the role that store sales clerks traditionally played in product advising, and they have more sway in consumers' purchasing behaviors than ever before. There's a clutter of voices and industry experts — from beauty gurus on YouTube to Instagram influencers — and Estée Lauder is tapping into this audience with its new website feature that lets users virtually try before they buy.