L’Oreal buys tech firm ModiFace to add VR and AI to its apps and in-store offerings
L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, has made its first ever purchase of a tech company as it looks to compete with the likes of JD.com and add virtual reality and AI-powered services to its apps and in-store services.
The object of L’Oreal’s affections is Canadia company ModiFace, which the cosmetics giant already thinks it's 'worth it' working with to build technology that can scan the human face and provide suggestions for skin care products based on wrinkles, pores, hydration levels and pigmentation. Whether the tech will be able to answer that age old imponderable “does my bum look big in this?” remains unaddressed.
L'Oreal, which owns brands such as Kiehl's, Maybelline and Garnier, has extensive form with using new tech. It made waves in 2014 when it launched a virtual makeup app that has been downloaded more than 20 million times and this January, it updated an app developed with ModiFace to allows users to scan their face with their phone and try out different hair colours.
The company has also increased its advertising on digital platforms like Facebook, and paid social media "influencers" to feature its products. The effort appears to have paid off, with 8% of revenue now coming from e-commerce channels.
Earlier this month, JD.com – China’s biggest retailer and ecommerce marketplace giant – launched an online ‘Styling Station’ that uses AR/VR to allow shoppers to virtually try on makeup from brands such as L’Oreal, Clarins, Aveeno, Avene, Marionnaud and The History of Whoo on their own faces with real makeup effects, such as matte and pearl lip colour finishes, online before buying.