L'Oréal wants to marry AR and personalisation with a FaceTime-style beauty assistant

When L'Oréal snapped up augmented reality (AR) business ModiFace earlier this year the brand promised to "support the reinvention of the beauty experience". Now, it's doing exactly that with a new tool that marries the futuristic technology with old fashioned one-on-one customer service.

The cosmetics giant used Cannes Lion to announce a new proposition that essentially brings the experience of visiting a makeup counter to consumers' phones and iPads, letting them 'try before they buy'.

L'Oréal's chief digital offer, Lubomira Rochet, told The Drum that the wider ambition is for L'Oréal to roll this tech out across all of its brands in four of its markets across a number of websites, apps and point-of-sales.

"We also plan to work with partners, like retailers and tech platforms so that we can embed this tech there and make sure the customer has the best experience."

The FaceTime-style feature is being trialed by the beauty giants' NYX Professional Makeup brand, it works by connecting customers with beauty professionals via a face-to-face call that is made within the NYX app.

The makeup artist at the other end of the line can 'trial' products on a user's face via a series of AR filters that are applied in real-time.

For instance, if a woman connected to the adviser asked to try out a red lip, the professional could 'apply' the colour to her lips on screen instantly; allowing the customer to effectively play and experiment with different colours and textures before deciding which ones to purchase.

Consumers can also purchase the products in-app and schedule future appointments for tutorials on how to use the makeup they've been recommended.

Rochet suggested that there was potential for the tech to help boost consumer loyalty, using the data gleaned during this interactions to better target buyers.

"At the heart of our digital strategy is the notion of personalisation and having those interactions with people," she explained.

"When you bring [customers] services like this it makes the relationship more personal, you get to know them better in terms of their look preference, their colour preference, their brand preference, their skin type; so you can really start to personalise your interactions and propose more relevant products, routines and innovations."

L'Oréal has been working with ModiFace for more than five years, so the acquisition earlier this year (for an undisclosed sum) was a natural one.

"It was very strategic... experiences [like AR and AI] will change the way people discover our brands and our products, so we decided to in-source that capability," she added.