They say that “change is the only constant”. It’s fair to say that in the 20 years I’ve been in marketing positions, the role of the CMO has changed completely.
L'Oréal’s click-to-buy functionality in its augmented reality app, Makeup Genius, is now live, allowing customers to purchase cosmetics directly via Priceline online.
Initially launched in early 2015, the mobile app employs facial mapping technology previously used in film and gaming industries to allow women to try on different products virtually and in real-time. The Makeup Genius app turns a smartphone or iPad camera into a virtual mirror that women can use to try on L’Oréal products in real time.
Consumers can scan a product or advertisement to detect a colour match, virtually try on individual products or curated looks suggested by expert makeup artists, and then purchase their desired look immediately via Priceline. Thanks to the deal with Priceline, the app now integrates an ecommerce function, allowing customers to purchase their chosen makeup looks directly.
“The click to buy with Priceline is really exciting,” L'Oréal’s head of digital and media for Australia and New Zealand, Christophe Eymery, told CMO. “Priceline is the number one destination for the discovery of our line, and this specific retailer stocks around 95 per cent of our entire range.
"When you compare to Coles, Woolworths or Target, they don’t necessarily stock everything at any point of time. For this application, when you click to buy you don’t want to be told ‘sorry this is not in stock right now’. You need to have a complete experience, so the best place to do it was with Priceline.”
Eymery said Priceline’s latest mobile responsive upgrade also opens up new opportunities for better end-to-end customer experience for the app.
“It is a very positive move and we now not only have a customer engagement app, but Makeup Genius as an ecommerce platform,” he said. “The opportunity to try the makeup on virtually is just an entry point. But purchasing within the environment where you’ve discovered and tried and know how it looks on yourself ultimately motivates you to purchase it.”
According to Eymery, Australian engagement with the LÓreal brand is quite high online and through social media.
“We looked at our Facebook pages and when you look at per capita compared to other countries, Australians' engagement ranked super high,” he said. “The same goes for Makeup Genius, where we have a greater download of the app per capita here compared to the US and the UK.”
The partnership forms part of L'Oréal’s wider strategy to engage the next generation of makeup lovers, following last year’s acquisition of cult international cosmetic brand, Urban Decay.
“The launch was extremely successful,” Eymery said. “We worked closely with Mecca, and we didn’t have to do much mainstream marketing because the products were just flying off the shelf. There was already an aura around it in the US and UK, so consumers were really ready for it in Australia. We didn’t have to do a big push for it as it came quite naturally.”
Eymery explained L'Oréal is centralising development to maintain overall efficiency, and added many functionalities of the L'Oréal Makeup Genius app can be re-customised for other brands.
“But at the same time, we can offer something slightly or even totally different to suit each brands’ dynamic,” he added. “For instance, L'Oréal Paris is all about the red carpet, and every time there is a red carpet event we add a real-time feed of the looks into the app.
“But with a brand like Maybelline, the focus is much more on fashion events, so the angle is quite different and based on new rising trends from catwalks. And the seasonality is based on fashion weeks around the world.”
As a result, there are talks to roll out further development of the app to suit L'Oréal’s growing cosmetic market base.
“The Makeup Genius app was initially designed at the group level, without necessarily L'Oréal Paris in mind, it could have been Maybelline, or it could have been Urban Decay,” he explained. “That’s something that we are working on and we’ll probably start seeing more applications coming out for all the different brands.”