22 Feb 2022 --- One of the world’s best-known cosmetics brands, MAC, has joined forces with the leading virtual try-on firm Perfect Corp and online samples company SoPost to create a new, circular process for product sampling. Together, the brands will integrate try-on technology and personalized shade matching with physical product sampling as it strives to offer a full product discovery experience.
The trio has collaborated to bring the digital-meets-physical personalized product sampling experience to MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid Foundation product. In a bid to create a unique product discovery journey, the companies seek to combine hyper-realistic augmented reality (AR) virtual try-on and personalized artificial intelligence (AI) shade matching, with the convenience of physical product sampling delivered to customers’ doors. They hope to offer a tailored, full-circle consumer experience that bridges the gap between the digital and physical worlds, by offering the opportunity to receive a sample of the specific shade they are matched with during the virtual experience. In doing so, the brands aim to build more confidence among consumers in their sampling and purchase decisions.
Click to EnlargeThe shade-matcher and sample offer will be piloted in the UK. Source: MAC CosmeticsHailed as a first-to-market sampling experience using the latest in AI and AR technology, the scheme will provide consumers with a personalized product matching sample experience. Consumers can access the experience through a call to action that sits at multiple activation points including social platforms Facebook and Instagram, along with retailer and brand websites.
To demonstrate how the new sampling vision will work, MAC Cosmetics’ opt-in customers will receive an email with a unique single-use link to “Claim a Studio Fix Fluid Foundation Sample”. Once clicked, this link will send users to a specific landing page that hosts the product-matching virtual try-on experience. Customers will then receive an automatic match obtained from the brand’s 67 shades. For the first time, the trio will provide the customer with a sample of the exact shade they are matched with from the virtual experience. Their aim is to provide a seamless end-to-end consumer experience.
MAC Cosmetics’ Studio Fix Fluid Foundation will be the first product in the beauty marketplace to showcase the companies’ virtual shade-match sampling experience. The brands will initially roll this out in the UK.
With 80,000 foundation samples available, Perfect Corp, MAC Cosmetics and SoPost hope to deliver a tailored and unique customer sampling experience that brings together AR virtual try-on and physical product samples to customers’ doorsteps. After receiving their sample, SoPost will then follow up with customers on MAC’s behalf for a review of their experience. The aim of this part of the process is to obtain valuable customer insights and to drive customers to specific points of purchase, online.
Click to EnlargeJonathan Grubin and SoPost bring the physical element to the consumer. Source: SoPost“We are excited to partner with MAC Cosmetics and SoPost to pair virtual product discovery with physical product sampling for a new-age experiential product discovery journey,” says Alice Chang, CEO at Perfect Corp. “Consumers continue to turn to product sampling as a means for making more confident purchase decisions.” The partnership will see the trio use AI and AR virtual try-on as a way to match MAC customers with foundation samples that best fit for their skin tone. “By pairing the AI and AR-powered product match with the physical samples, we hope to further boost consumer purchase confidence and help companies better distribute physical samples,” Chang shares.
"The growth of virtual try-on is a trend that we don't see going away, and we're thrilled to be working with the teams at MAC and Perfect Corp to be taking the consumer experience a step further with samples delivered in-home,” says Jonathan Grubin, Founder and CEO of SoPost. “This first-to-market activation is an exciting development in the world of online sampling and demonstrates how people's buying habits are changing and how sampling can adapt."
Fiona Sainty, Vice President General Manager of MAC Cosmetics UK & Ireland, adds: “In an ever-evolving market where physical and digital are merged like never before, our next-generation VTO-driven SoPost experience combines shade-matching with sampling into one seamless customer journey, allowing for a trial-driven product like foundation to become more accessible than ever.”
Since 2020, MAC has been offering consumers the option to try on shades digitally through its MAC Virtual Try-On service. The brand has sought to not only match consumers with appropriate shades, but to provide samples to consumers at home too.
The power of three
Commenting on what prompted the partnership between the three leading beauty companies, Chang says: “At Perfect Corp, we are always looking to partner with forward-thinking brands who are taking the next step in their digital transformation.” As existing partners, Perfect Corp and MAC Cosmetics saw the opportunity to take its virtual try-on experience a step further, to deliver a tailored and unique customer sampling experience.
Through this partnership, the companies then joined forces with SoPost, to provide a complete end-to-end virtual-to-physical consumer journey. MAC Cosmetics, Perfect Corp and SoPost sought to offer a unique and tailored experience for consumers, from point of interest right through to convenient delivery.
“This next-generation product sampling journey is the first of its kind to integrate AI and AR-powered virtual try-on and product shade matching with physical product sampling,” states Chang. “Consumers continue to turn to product sampling as a means for making more confident purchase decisions so we were excited to pair this with AI and AR virtual try-on as a way to best match MAC customers with foundation samples that best fit for their skin tone.”
Click to EnlargeAlice Chang is seeing Perfect Corp’s tech expand into new categories and services. Source: Perfect CorpPerfect Corp recognizes that customers continue to demand convenient, engaging and personalized beauty shopping experiences online. “Despite the challenges posed by the digital divide when shopping through a screen versus in-store, customers are keen on a tailored experience that rivals in-store shopping and experimentation,” notes Chang. AR virtual try-on increasingly offers this, allowing consumers the ability to use the technology from anywhere, with the tap of their smart device helping them to find their best shades faster and make smarter purchase decisions.
The brand also sees that customers are beginning to demand more from companies, especially when it comes to their sustainability practices. Therefore, its solution strives to save time and reduce the waste caused by delivering the wrong shades by being able to match beauty shoppers with their correct shades and send them the correct products.
However, creating the product experience has not been without its obstacles. “There is a technical complexity that comes when using AI technology in order to shade-match consumers, specifically surrounding lighting, face position and face angle,” shares Chang. In order to ensure the companies deliver accurate shade match results, the trio had to develop an advanced algorithm for auto-detection of these critical elements, which automatically adjusts to ensure optimal conditions for the most accurate reading.
“Foundations also require AI deep learning in order to detect the full spectrum of skin tones - a whopping 89,969 shades - accounting for unlimited grades from light to dark and true undertones ranging from warm to cool,” highlights Chang. “These factors are essential in order to deliver an accurate shade match that consumers can rely on as a true utility tool when shopping for foundation.”
In terms of the leading opportunities the brands foresee, they believe that the Perfect Corp, MAC and SoPost partnership is the future of product sampling and can open opportunities beyond just foundation sampling to include new categories like fashion accessories and jewelry. “The opportunities are endless, so we will shoot for the stars and continue to build on this full circle consumer experience,” emphasizes Chang.
Considering its impact on the market, Chang shares: “We will definitely see more brands getting involved at this intersection between the digital and physical worlds in order to create a more personalized and immersive experience for customers in the fashion and beauty industries.”
Also, the brands anticipate seeing the importance of AR in beauty sampling grow, especially when it comes to sustainability, as now they can tailor the experience to each individual with increasing accuracy.
By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe, BPC Insights Senior Journalist