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CASE STUDY How virtual try-on tools boosted customer engagement at M·A·C Cosmetics

Shoppers try new looks when they experiment with the virtual try-on tool

Make-up company M·A·C has seen its customer engagement grow as a result of using digital tools to help its customers try before they buy. 

M·A·C (Make-up Art Cosmetics) used the Perfect Corp augmented reality (AR) platform as a virtual try-on tool. The platform combines machine-learning with augmented reality to offer a preview of how MAC’s make-up would look on the skin of all its users. M·A·C has now opened an Innovation Center store in Queens, New York, adding to an existing centre in Shanghai, and found that in the first month after launching its virtual shade finder for foundation there, customer engagement rose by 200%. Conversion rose strongly at the same time.

“Our founding mantra at M·A·C is: all ages, all races, all genders,” says Sonia Anand, executive director, global digital retail innovation at M·A·C Cosmetics. “This means we needed AI [artificial intelligence] and AR that could seamlessly adapt to different skin tones and face shapes. We require the same sense of inclusivity with our technology that we embrace in our products. Perfect Corp. is able to do this.” 

Anand says the tool needed to meet the demands of customers who include professional make-up artists. “In addition to providing an inclusive tool, Perfect Corp. makes sure that we are providing the easiest editing tools for our artists to review these products and to sign off on all the colors and all of the shade matching,” says Anand. “That is critically important to us. We wouldn’t publish a tool where we weren’t getting that accuracy level.” 

The platform now underpins a number of shopper virtual try-on tools for the cosmetics company. M·A·C started with the online Perfect Corp YouCam virtual try-on, launched four years ago and now available for use with more than 1,700 M·A·C products. Since then, an on-site virtual try-on has been added, enabling shoppers to test shades from a shop, along with a ’full look’  tool where shoppers can try a variety of make-up items at once to give a look for an occasion, and the recently launched virtual shade finder. Make-up artists can also use the tools through iPads that M·A·C provides to them to use in-store. 

Anand says: “When visiting our stores, one of my favourite things to do is to watch as one of our customers stands in front of a virtual try-on. You can see them experimenting with colours that perhaps they would have never tried. They might be wearing a nude lipstick (which is a personal favourite of mine) but then click on a punchy red, and they smile because they see they see a colour look good on them, that they never would have tried before. Virtual try-on gives people the freedom to explore. They can literally try on hundreds of different products within minutes—something that would be completely impossible to do in the physical world. That’s part of the magic of what our VTO provides.” 

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