On 16 March 2018, L’Oreal announced their acquisition of ModiFace, an Augmented Reality (AR) company known as the leading provider of AR technology for the beauty sector. L’Oreal had been working with ModiFace on a project basis for 7 years before this announcement was made.
A year into the acquisition, by early 2019, they had developed several hundreds of solutions, nearly one project a day, according to an interview by The Drum, of Lubomira Rochet, the Global Chief Digital Officer. According to Lubomira, they had launched 120 of those projects by the end of the first 12 months as they had observed that engagement times double and conversion rates triple with the AR feature on their website/app.
Amongst these solutions were a diagnostic tool capable of predicting and addressing visual signs of ageing to make product recommendations and a virtual shade selector tool to make hair colour recommendations. They were also testing the technology for consumers to virtually try out cosmetics from the comfort of their homes in early 2019.
Just in time for the chaos 2020 brought the beauty sector.
Lockdowns & L’Oreal
L’Oreal went into partnership with Google. Consumers seeking lipstick or eyeshadow brands by L’Oreal could use the ModiFace solution to try on any shade virtually before they bought the shade they wanted.
Through a similar partnership with Facebook, they saw a five fold increase in usage of their virtual make-up tools and the conversion rate from ad to sales was three times higher with the virtual try on tool. It was particularly effective for hair colour, due to salon closures during the pandemic.
When the results for financial year ended 31 December 2020 were announced, Jean Paul Agon, L’Oreal’s then CEO, said, ‘….sales achieved in e-commerce rose sharply by +62%, across all Divisions and all regions, reaching the record level of 26.6% of the total Group’s sales for the year.‘
Despite declines in sales of Professional, Luxe and Consumer product ranges, sales of their Active range grew by 13% that year. Also, there was a remarkable difference in sales across regions. Asia Pacific, which has always been a technology friendly region with high adoption rates for new tech, saw an increase in sales of 1.5%, despite the pandemic.
In 2021, L’Oreal recorded a sales increase vs 2020 of 16%, with e-commerce claiming nearly 30% of sales. By this time, L’Oreal revenues had recovered to nearly the same revenues as 2019… due to their almost prescient investment in technology.