LONDON and NEW YORK — Recent insights and a just-announced partnership between Estée Lauder and virtual makeover app YouCam Makeup are highlighting a way for retailers to create an omnichannel experience for shoppers that keep their phones handy while shopping, but still flock to brick-and-mortar stores.
In March, data from Accenture highlighted the multitudes that the digitally native Gen Z shoppers contain, namely the fact that 77% of them say brick-and-mortar is their preferred shopping channel, even as such digital channels as online and mobile grow the share of dollars they bring in.
These potentially contradictory trends are converging in the beauty space, where one storied brand is looking to capitalize on them while providing virtual resources for shoppers, both online and in-store. In support of the brand’s new Pure Colour Love Lipstick, it is partnering with YouCam Makeup — which has 400 million global downloads, including 4 million in the U.K. alone — to allow consumers to try on all 30 of the lipstick’s shades in real-time through the app.
“As a brand we no longer just sell lipstick. We offer the consumer a unique experience — and YouCam gives us the opportunity to bring innovative technology and a real digital-first concept to the makeup loving millennial,” Estée Lauder president U.K. and Ireland Chris Good said. In-store beauty advisors at the Carnaby Street Selfridges store are complementing the social engagement, showing customers how to use the app to try on the lipstick and its varieties — including ultra-mattes, shimmer pearls, cooled chromes and crèmes — in the store.
“The seamless integration of YouCam’s virtual in-store magic mirrors elevates the beauty shopping experience to a new realm inviting customers to play and experiment with products, discovering the entire Pure Color Love lip collection in a matter of seconds,” Perfect CEO Alice Chang said. “Together with Estée Lauder UK, we are able to provide the ultimate in-store shopping experience of the future.”
And Estée Lauder’s efforts come as such retailers in the U.S. as Sephora bring more virtual reality to their digital and in-store offerings. In March, Sephora expanded its augmented reality experience through its Virtual Artist app, and is making a big push in-store with its Beauty TIP (Teach, Inspire, Play) store format, rolling it out at its largest North American store on 34th Street in Manhattan, as well as at its Fifth Ave. location. The format is centered around the store’s Beauty Workshop space, where customers can learn more about the virtual artist technology at iPad stations.
These efforts are a step toward bringing together the brick-and-mortar with digital offerings — two big factors that senior managing director of Accenture’s retail industry practice Jill Standish said would help differentiate retailers.
“Retailers need to invest in the digital tools that will enable them to speak to Gen Z through visuals, collaborate with them across multiple channels and devices, and make them feel part of their brand,” Standish said in March. “Offering services such as crowd-sourcing, customization and hyper-personalization are a must-have capability for reaching a generation that is shaping and commanding today’s digital retail landscape.”