Ready for your close-up? How virtual make-up aisles are making the future of advertising more attractive.

Woman tries out the Sephora Virtual Artist at the beauty retailer’s store
Credit: Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The global cosmetic skin care market is set to reach $185.5 billion by 2027.
Since the start of the pandemic, the use of online platforms to communicate has forced us to take a good look at ourselves…literally.

How many times during a Zoom call have you found your eyes drifting away from the person you’re talking to, to the small image of yourself in the corner of the screen? It’s happened to me more than I care to admit, and there was me thinking the digital age would allow me to look virtually perfect at all times!

It’s therefore no surprise that beauty consumers are changing their buying habits, gravitating towards items that allow them to replicate the salon experience at home and shield them from the possible impact of an increasingly webcam-centred lifestyle.

Foundation in particular is one of the most sought after products and even the sale of skincare fridges has seen a considerable rise.

I’ll be honest, I had to look up what a skincare fridge was (it turns out it’s pretty obvious). People are also adding in more steps to their skincare routines to avoid that washed-out online look. Serums in particular are on the up, with a 20-40 % increase in searches since the start of the pandemic.

So what is Beauty tech and how is it changing the cosmetics industry?

With people unable to visit make-up experts, digital algorithms and online quizzes have stepped in to help deliver that camera-ready look.

Augmented Reality (AR) allows for ‘try-on’ face scanning tools, which takes a picture of your skin to create your perfect shade match. MAC Cosmetics was one of the first to rise to the challenge and its virtual try-on allows you to scroll and click on swatches, making it possible to experiment with 800 different shades.

A new type of customer interaction

As advertisers, we are always looking for ways to make the customer journey more immersive.

Contextual ads combined with AR technology are a step in a more productive direction. This type of content integrates into the customer’s own physical environment, creating an absolutely unique experience – a suspension of disbelief that leads to an interaction with the object in a completely novel way. A key part of advertising is to create relevance, and augmented reality certainly does that.

Digestible advertising

Research by eMarketer found that global Augmented Reality ad revenues are expected to reach $2 Billion by 2022. AR bridges the gap between the physical and the digital. It offers people an immersive experience…perhaps the closest we can get to the outside world at present. The novelty of the experiences makes them pay close attention and stay hooked to the content.

Have you ever tried a smart beauty mirror or a web aisle from the comfort of your sofa or will you be waiting for stores to re-open?