The Beauty Sector Is Readying for an AR Makeover

Marketers are optimistic about the technology's potential to solve pain points

Beauty retailers like Sephora and L'Oréal have adopted augmented reality (AR) in some form to let consumers try on products without having to leave their home. 

And other beauty marketers worldwide also plan on embracing the technology within the next two to five years, according to an April 2018 survey by Celebrity Intelligence. When asked when they expect AI-powered conversation and personalization campaigns across email and social to happen, 65% of respondents said within the next two years, and another 30% said within five years. 

Similarly, almost as many beauty marketers were in agreement about that timeline when it came to remote one-to-one beauty consultations using mobile video and AR. 

Other innovations, however, may take even longer. For example, 32% of respondents said that getting bespoke beauty solutions based on a customer's DNA will be adopted at scale over the next two years, and another 42% believe it'll happen with five years. Still, a significant number of beauty marketers (27%) said it might take even longer—10 years.

But it will get there. And based on how companies like Sephora and Ulta Beauty have struck a chord with their AR efforts, the technology will solve a clear pain point for consumers.

“Trying on lipstick is actually a pain, because you try on one color and then you wipe it off,” said Maya Mikhailov, co-founder and CMO of GPShopper, a Synchrony Financial solution, in a recent eMarketer report. (eMarketer PRO subscribers can access the full report here.) 

“Not only do [the Ulta and Sephora apps] show you what different lipsticks can look like on you, but they actually use AR to teach you how to apply certain makeup trends, like highlighting, lowlighting and contours. It's a profoundly impactful tool, because you no longer have to go into the store,” she added.