Among consumer brands, cosmetics companies rival furniture retailers as the quickest to adopt augmented reality as a means to help customers visualize how products will look before they buy them.
One cosmetics brand called Benefit has moved beyond lipstick and rouge to let customers try on eyebrows in AR. Powered by ModiFace, the Brow Try-On tool magically morphs your eyebrows in a live camera view or on a static image, with fifteen styles available to visualize how you'll look with various eyebrow shapes. Customers can also adjust the shade, arch, thickness, definition, and placement of the digital brows.
"To reach our core millennial consumer, it has become essential to develop tools and interactive experiences that add value, foster engagement and simplify product discovery," said Hayley Shay, marketing director of Benefits Cosmetics Canada, in a company-issued statement. "With augmented reality, we can learn a great deal about our consumers, offering them more tailored product and service recommendations."
But to try it out, you'll need to navigate to the Benefit Cosmetics website instead of downloading a mobile app, as the company has curiously opted for a browser-based experience for the tool. From our hands-on experience, while the app works on mobile and desktop devices, the interface was difficult to use on a touchscreen with a mobile browser, particularly when it came to using the sliders to modify the arch, thickness, or definition of eyebrows.
Augmented reality has already demonstrated its worth in helping sell cosmetics, and the Brow Try-On tool endeavors to use the technology to achieve the same impact with eyebrow styling. After using the AR-powered eyebrow design guide, the app then recommends which products (eyebrow pencils, brow gel, etc.) users can add to their Benefit online store shopping cart to achieve the desired look. The tool also aims to bridge the online-to-offline shopping gap by also allowing users to book an appointment for a brow wax at any Benefit BrowBar throughout the US.
So does the technology really help the consumer? I'm not a cosmetics expert, so I consulted a friend who is.
"I wouldn't have pegged you for a guy who wants to try on brow looks, but hey, do you," said Lauren Ford, a licensed esthetician specializing in brow artistry and skincare, in response to my initial query.
At first, Ford had trouble with the tool, because she was on a mobile device rather than a desktop PC. So instead, I shared a video with her that shows how the app works.
"It's fun, but unrealistic," she said. "If someone brought a snapshot of one of those looks to me and said that was what they wanted, I would have to tell them that I would get them as close as I can with their natural brow. But again, you can't create something from nothing ... The one way that this might be beneficial is to give someone who has never done their brows an idea of what they would look like with a more polished look."
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