Industry spotlight: are chatbots really worth it for beauty retail, marketing and engagement?

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Industry spotlight: are chatbots really worth it for beauty retail, marketing and engagement?

Related tags: Estée lauder, Augmented reality

With ever increasing updates and launches by major players in the area of augmented reality marketing and retail, we shine a spotlight one of the major digital elements being used by beauty brands: chatbots.

Augmented reality, or AR, capabilities from technology companies like Perfect365, YouCam, ModiFace and Meitu are being quickly incorporated by cosmetic brands across the board to allow consumers to virtually try on products in the comfort of their own home using nothing more than their mobile phone.

They provide intelligent augmented reality technology for the beauty industry, providing customizable AR try-on capability for web/ecommerce, mobile, in-store, and messaging.

The appeal of these types of technologies is built around offering consumers more engagement and experience, while providing brands with insights and data which can be applied in other parts of the business.

What’s a chatbot?

One core platform offered by many of these tech providers is chatbot functionality: a digital programme that can interact with consumers in personal, dedicated messaging format, responding to specific queries and prompts from the consumer.

Last year, for example, Estée Lauder​ created a chatbot lipstick advisor which engaged with consumers via Facebook Messenger.

As reported in Essential Retail​, the lipstick chatbot was created in partnership with ModiFace​ and allows customers to search and virtually try on different shades of lipsticks using AR technology.

"Messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger are the perfect platform for consumers to search, explore, try-on, and ideally purchase Estée Lauder products,​” said Stephane de La Faverie, global brand president, Estée Lauder.

Is it really worth it?

In a recent report​, Digiday considered the rise of the chatbot platform, and suggests that while the fashion industry has yet to crack the format, the beauty industry is embracing it readily.

The report, by journalist Jessica Schiffer, notes that brands including Sephora, Estée Lauder and L’Oréal have all rolled out chatbots in the last year, with Coty among others tipped to also launch in this area in the coming months.

Beauty’s edge in the space can be attributed largely to its reliance on AR technology, thanks to its virtual try-on capabilities that have helped solve for the industry’s oft-cited “try-before-you-buy” conundrum with e-commerce,”​ says the Schiffer. “Now, beauty brands are incorporating the technology into their bots for the same effect​.”

With 2018 already shaping up to be another strong year for AR investment from beauty players, it will be interesting to see what new tech emerges from this innovative space in the coming months.

For now, brands appear to remain confident that their return on investment will make the chatbot launches worth it.

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