Now that some of the best-known beauty brands are leveraging augmented reality to market and sell products, the rest of the market is beginning to catch up — fast. The latest competitor to add AR to its arsenal is direct sales makeup company Younique.
This month, the company launched the Younique Beauty Guide, a web-based app that uses AR to allow consumers to "try on" different shades and styles of makeup from seven different cosmetic categories.
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The app, which doesn't require visiting an iOS or Android app store to get started, uses facial analysis to virtually place selected makeup on the user's face. But instead of staring at a picture of a certain shade of makeup, trying to imagine what it might look like once applied, the AR software can actually just show you.
"Since the very beginning, Younique has always been a brand at the forefront of technology," said Melanie Huscroft, Younique co-founder and chief visionary officer.
"We are so excited to revolutionize the industry again with the Younique Beauty Guide — our new augmented reality tool — that is globally seamless and leverages innovation to further our mission that transcends borders, cultures, languages, and ultimately affects the mainstream perception of both inner and outer beauty."
Using the Younique Beauty Guide, a person can test a number of different makeup combinations from cosmetic categories including foundation, blusher, mascara, brow liner, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and lipstick. The web app can be accessed from either a computer or a mobile device, but the trick to seeing quality results is to make sure that you have adequate lighting, which will allow the app to get a solid scan of your face.
In addition to showing current makeup lines, the app also shows upcoming products. That means users can pick out their new favorite products prior to launch. For example, Younique's "Moodstruck Pressed Shadow" collection can be found in the app, even though the line doesn't launch until September.
Younique's move into the AR space is part of a larger trend. Back in June, Amazon began using L'Oréal's ModiFace AR to allow consumers to try on makeup on the shopping site.
What makes Younique, well, unique is that it is effectively an online-only version of Avon. But unlike the old school version of Avon's door-to-door sales model, Younique's sellers (known as "presenters") use their own social media accounts to promote and sell makeup through internet marketing. And, like Avon, those sellers then recruit friends and family to join as presenters.
Therefore, with the addition of AR, the company's large network of independent sellers now have yet another digital tool that could help them to move even more product to consumers.
Back in 2017, Younique was acquired by Coty Inc., a cosmetics giant that owns brands like CoverGirl makeup and Clairol hair dye. Coty bought 60% of Younique for $600 million, which, at the time, valued the company at $1 billion.
Since then, the company's success has been mixed, a topic Pierre Laubies, the CEO of Coty, recently addressed. "Younique, like all multi-level marketing businesses, has gone through a phase of classic hype. Unfortunately, we are in the de-hype phase," Laubies told The Drum, back in May, referring to Younique's recent struggles.
Nevertheless, the brand is still successfully fighting for its place within a highly competitive beauty products space.
To that end, there's nothing like embracing advanced technology to breathe new life into a company. And, with more industries moving their businesses to online-only models, it seems AR is set to play an even larger role in helping other startups to bridge the gap between the in-store shopping experience of the past and the at-home shopping experience of the future.