L’Oreal Is Bringing the Makeup Counter Experience Into Your Home With AR and Livestreaming

The company wants to invent the future of beauty experiences

L'oreal demonstrated a new digital beauty assistant at Cannes. L'oreal
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

CANNES, France—Later this year, L’Oreal will roll out a new service: A digital beauty assistant who helps you test products to give you a sense of what would work for your face. Using augmented reality and livestreaming technologies, the company is aiming to extend and digitize its relationship with consumers by bringing the personalized makeup counter experience into your home.

With a demonstration at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, L’Oreal showcased how it will soon allow consumers of its NYX Professional Makeup brand—the first of the company’s brands to try this new approach—to book livestreaming consulting sessions with beauty assistants (likely the ones who work for the brand’s stores already) who would then work with those consumers just as they would at the makeup counter—only digitally.

Using AR, the beauty assistants will be able to show consumers what a shade of lipstick would look like on their face or if a dramatic eye look would work for them and then recommend products. The consumers can then purchase the products and book future appointments to learn how to use said products from the beauty assistants.

“What we are doing with those technologies is to really mimic and recreate this really personal relationship you have with a beauty assistant at the counter,” explained Lubomira Rochet, chief digital officer of L’Oreal. “She looks at you, understands you, has more (makeup) experience. You get into a really personal conversation so you can have a really personalized recommendation. This is exactly what we want to do with our AR experience.”

This new offering, which will eventually be available from all of L’Oreal’s brands, according to Rochet, was made possible by L’Oreal’s acquisition of Toronto-based augmented reality startup ModiFace this past March. “The beauty of having ModiFace is that we can embed those technologies into every brand,” said Rochet.

“This is not our core business model,” said Rochet. “Our core business model is to produce shampoo bottles and skin care, makeup and perfume. So we are clearly making an in-road into adjacencies because we want to provide services to our consumers to help them discover, try, buy and experience our brands.”

The plan is to have the new offering, which the company pitches as a “one-to-one, live, step-by-step tutorial and coaching with a makeup adviser, virtually try on personalized makeup looks and shop online,” be available in 65 countries.

L’Oreal is kicking things off with NYX Professional Makeup because “NYX is a very social brand, a pro brand and a retail brand, so we have many shops and many beauty assistants in those shops,” Rochet said.

See what this new offering will look like below:

Over the past five years, the company has undergone a digital transformation that has led to new innovations like the one demonstrated above. In the last two years, L’Oreal has also worked to revamp its advertising approach. In 2017, 38 percent of investments were in digital with 65 percent in “programmatic or in precision advertising in any capacity,” explained Rochet.

“This transformation was essential in the digital transformation of the company,” said Rochet. “Basically, we’ve completely shifted our investments to be where consumers are spending time. People are spending more and more time on digital and especially more and more time on mobile. That was a fairly obvious move for us.”

While that was initially a media-driven shift, the company has now had to retool its approach to creative, making not only TV, print and point-of-sale content but also creating unique content for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, all of the touch points where consumers may interact with the company.

More content doesn’t mean just a six-second spot but also product-centric two-second spot, a pitch of sorts, that is “super splashy, super orgasmic, very visual, very impactful content,” said Rochet, to get consumers interested in learning more. L’Oreal also tries to produce sequenced messaging. That creative change has led to the company producing 50 times more content than it used to, explained Rochet.

As for Amazon, the company works to create content but also takes a different approach to the behemoth. “First you have to know that in our industry more than 50 percent of people who are searching for a product would start directly on Amazon,” said Rochet. “Amazon is not just an ecommerce platform. It’s also a search platform and a brand platform.”

She continued: “It’s interesting, with Amazon this is where you see pure marketing and pure transactional frontiers collapsing. It’s a transactional and a marketing platform. It took time for us to realize that but now we know it. We treat it as much as a brand building platform as a transactional ecommerce platform.”

While the company creates content specifically for Amazon, it is also “working to see how can we improve the services of beauty on Amazon.”

What does that look like? Over the last two years, it has meant creating ecommerce-first products for Amazon as well as changing the way it packages products, putting together packages for skin care or beauty routines so that consumers could buy the package rather than product by product. “The way we package and the way we sell on Amazon is very different from the traditional distribution,” said Rochet.

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.