Beauty brands are rushing to add apps as a ploy to allow shoppers to experiment with beauty more often, while also eliminating the need for consumers to return products because of disappointment in shades. If a brand doesn’t have an app now, it probably will this year.
(To view the full Beauty Trends Report, click here.)
L’Oréal kicked off the trend two years ago with Makeup Genius, but many others have been quick on its heels.
The latest is e.l.f. in conjunction with YouCam. E.l.f. Cosmetics is the first mass market brand to launch on YouCam, a beauty app offering virtual makeup application with more than 300 million downloads.
YouCam features about 50 e.l.f. SKUs on its platform, highlighted by three e.l.f.-curated holiday looks, the brainchild of e.l.f.’s makeup artist Achelle, which will be extended quarterly.
The debut also represents the first time YouCam is offering “shoppable” looks. “You can buy as you are trying on, [which has been available], but for the first time you can shop the entire look and purchase right from there,” said Mara McCune, VP of marketing for e.l.f.
“We believe our consumer is increasingly connected. She gets her information and is influenced by bloggers and what she sees online. We see virtual beauty as a way to influence her shopping decision and a natural extension of our mission of making luxurious beauty accessible,” McCune said.
Also new in the app store is Clairol’s MyShade, an app that not only allows women to see how a shade will look, but also offers consultation to personalize the choice. “We hope to turn the [hair color] category around by putting expert advice in the palm of women’s hands,” said Heather Carruthers, VP of Clairol Global and U.S. marketing. “What we’ve done is take the daunting task of choosing hair color and make it simple. MyShade is designed to bring the expertise of our color experts to the customer in a few simple steps.”
Carruthers said women tend to spend as much as 10 minutes in hair color aisles, twice the time they devote to other hair care products, but only 50% of those women actually make a purchase. “We are trying to get more women to color their hair by removing the biggest fears — getting it wrong or ruining their natural color. It’s empowering.”
MyShade has a broad menu of options, including the choice to click and see a new trend, such as the merger of Red and Bronze for a color called Ronze. Users can share their images of the fresh hair hues on social media channels.
“The Clairol app offers the ability to virtually try-on a hair color, which is of extreme importance to consumers, since hair coloration is usually a big commitment,” said Parham Aarabi, CEO of ModiFace, the company behind many of the new apps. “The MyShade app brings two interesting features to the market, including an [artificial intelligence]-based hair adviser that guides a user as to what shade is best for them, and a universal shade-scanning technology built into the adviser that helps them try on any permanent home hair color,” Aarabi said.
The scanner works with any hair color box, even from competitors, and suggests a shade from the Clairol range.
Carruthers said the app reduces the risk of getting it wrong through a series of questions, such as, “what is your gray level?” to prescribe a personalized solution. The app features ModiFace’s patented hair coloration and shade-matching technology to accurately depict hair color. It starts from the hair color in the photo for a realistic result. There’s also the opportunity to call or e-mail an expert from MyShade.
Retailers said they expect to see more apps roll out this year, especially since millennials like to experiment. Apps allow that without actual applications and washing off the looks each time. The apps also offer the capability to take selfies to share with friends for feedback.