The Covid-19 pandemic is illuminating the potential and benefits of Augmented Reality (AR). Its ability to revolutionize the beauty industry is becoming increasingly apparent as beauty giants harness the technology to boost consumer engagement and loyalty.

AR enables consumers to experiment with products as a visit to a physical store in order to experiment with and then purchase beauty products is no longer possible on account of hygiene standards. It can also save consumers money in that it eliminates the trial and error aspect of purchasing beauty products online that potentially will not align with their aspired look.

Beauty companies increase investment in AR

MAC Cosmetics is one of the latest beauty giants to jump in on the trend, launching a virtual try-on feature in partnership with the application, YouCam, which allows users to virtually try on beauty products before making a purchase. While this is not MAC’s first foray into the world of AR, this is a timely strategic move to capture beauty lovers as they spend more time at home amid global lockdowns.

Meitu, the Chinese beauty technology company, also launched a free AR tool specifically developed to help beauty giants boost make-up sales amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The tool enables users to virtually trial over 20 make-up styles, and it can make personalized product recommendations to users. The firm claims the tool can be supported by social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, which will prove beneficial in capturing users who are spending more time browsing social media amid global lockdowns.

The in-store experience is still important

It is true that since the outbreak of Covid-19 certain consumers are no longer purchasing cosmetic products, though 41% of global consumers have confirmed that they are buying the same or higher quantities of make-up since the outbreak, according to GlobalData’s Covid-19 survey tracker in June. An opportunity therefore exists for beauty brands to tap into, and promote the benefits of AR services to this audience.

However, while AR does, to an extent, eliminate the need for physical shopping in this context; it does not eliminate the consumer desire for it. The ability to shop for products in a store environment that projects and emulates a brands philosophy is still valuable in the experience economy in which consumers live.

Yet, AR remains a way in which beauty brands can bridge the online and offline gap within their offerings, and interact with their consumers in a fun, personalized way amid this pandemic and beyond.

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