virtual reality beauty industry

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality in the Beauty Industry

Last updated on: 2018


At first, the crazy ideas of Virtual Reality were just talk; nowadays, everyone and anyone in the tech world takes the concepts of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality very seriously. These new technological innovations not only continue to impact our daily lives but are impacting and creating opportunities within digital marketing, especially within the beauty industry. As advertisers, it is crucial to take the time to educate yourself on these new concepts as they lay the framework of the future of marketing…and the ideas that stem off them aren’t going anywhere!

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality, or VR, refers to artificial or digital experiences which make it possible to experience anything, anytime, anywhere. People usually access VR through fancy VR headsets. This landscape provides users an artificial environment that are experienced through senses such as sight and sound. These computer-generated environments make users feel as if they are in a real world where they can interact and possibly manipulate what is around them.

Virtual Reality + Digital Marketing

VR is a great opportunity to create more personalized and engaging experiences for consumers. One of the biggest benefits of VR marketing is that it gives an audience the chance to immerse themselves fully into an experience. These experiences can be fun, emotional or intriguing. Regardless of the experience, what matters is that these experiences are SO engaging. This digital environment created by VR allows brands to connect with their customers in a way that brings them closer together because of this shared experience.

Virtual Reality in the Beauty Sphere

If it’s not a repeat purchase for a brand-loyal product, many beauty consumers like going into a brick-and-mortar store to purchase products such as foundations or lipsticks to be able to try out the variety of shades. However, big beauty players such as L’Oreal are aggressively embracing the digital beauty sphere. Not only did they an app using AR that allows consumers to try on virtually shades virtually, L’Oreal is now utilizing VR for everything from future store design concepts, retailer relations and package testing within their ‘Beauty Lab.’ This space lives at the L’Oreal headquarters in New York and is virtual reality room where sub-brands are encouraged to use the room to better understand their in-store presentation and look and feel of the store.

“We like to think of the Lab as the place where big ideas are allowed to happen,” says Joe Sinisi, assistant vice president of the Future of Retail team. “Collaboration has always been at the heart of our relationship with our retailers, this room just takes it to a whole other level.”

Loreal Beauty Lab

Image via Machdyne

What is Augmented Reality?

If you are an active Snapchat user, you are already a user of Augmented Reality! AR is a computer tool that is able to detect live elements such as the human face and add virtual effects to the real-time scenario of the user. This digital technology overlays information in a video, text or image format onto everyday objects in the real world. An example of this technology is the popular Snapchat filters that add different face features to the user whether its dog ears or a warped facial structure.

Augmented Reality + Digital Marketing

AR provides advertisers with the ability to transform a static object such as a magazine ad into an immersive 3D experience. AR marketing differs from VR because, while VR operates by fully immersing the user in a computer-generated environment, AR adds to the environment the user would normally see day-to-day with these digital overlays. Increased brand awareness, customer engagement and experience are big benefits to AR as it brings digital to the real world.

Snapchat has already rolled out their AR marketing strategy of ‘Snap and Shop’  with shoppable AR filters. This feature allows businesses to sell products directly from a Snapchat filer on the platform. L’Oreal was the first to actually sponsor a lens on Snapchat to promote their new Silkissime Eyeliner.

Augmented Reality in the Beauty Sphere

AR has completely changed online retail for cosmetics and other beauty products. In the past year, many brands have launched numerous website and apps allowing consumers to try-on a cosmetic in the comfort of their home before purchasing it. For example, Benefit allows customers to virtually try on products or services. This typically involves the user uploading a photo while AR works to help the consumer visualize what the product will look like.

Benefit try it augmented reality tool

Image via Hello Magazine

Other brands such as Sephora have utilized AR for the consumer’s in-store experience. At Sephora, you can find your perfect color and shade using its Color IQ foundation finder. Sephora also  launched Lip IQ, a similar program that helps customers find the right lipstick shade. The company continues to launch new technology using AR, including the Cheek Try On, Color Match and Expanded Looks.

sephora pantone color iq

Image via Beyond Classically Beautiful

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality: What’s the difference?

The majority of people might think VR and AR are the same things but in reality, these are completely different concepts. AR enhances your reality with virtual effects whereas VR takes you to another world by taking you away from reality with the help of some tools.

Virtual + Augmented Reality in Digital Marketing

The future of digital marketing faces a challenge when VR and AR become the prime ad placements for advertisers. There will be no places for advertisers to run display ads, pre-rolls, etc. As technology catches up with the direction of advertising within VR and AR digital environments, consumers will start to see more engaging and interactive ad content being served to them. For example, more 3D content will be streamed directly to consumers through AR designated spaces instead of traditional billboards. VR content will start to appear in online games in the form of an in-game advertisement.

As big companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook continue to develop VR and AR technology and app developers continue to refine software and wearable tools, it is likely that both technologies will soon become an established tool for any digital marketing campaigns, especially in the beauty world. By keeping up-to-date with these exciting new technologies, advertisers can begin to plan how to integrate them into the digital marketplace.

How do you plan to incorporate AR and VR into your marketing campaigns? Let us know below!

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