L’Oréal launches Makeup Genius app allowing people to trial products on their phone

MAKEUP_GENIUS_IPHONE_picture_originalL’Oréal Paris is moving into the technology space, launching an app that uses facial mapping technology to turn mobile devices into a ‘mirror’ allowing women to virtually try on makeup in real-time.

Makeup Genius allows users to try on curated looks or products and see how it suits their own face, with the brand aiming for around half a million Australian consumers downloads within its first three months.

Speaking to Mumbrella, L’Oréal Paris marketing director Cameron Woods said the app ties into the beauty company’s overarching mission to “provide beauty for all”.

“With Makeup Genius what we hope to add under the guise of providing beauty for all is very much accessibility in an innovative, technological sense,” he said.

“That’s what the app does incredibly well. Prior to physically touching products or buying products, what it allows us to do is to reach out to many more people in many walks of life to try on and experience beauty, it’s not just about the fact that it has our lipsticks but look at the latest looks, trends, how-to videos and be connected to beauty, it just happens to be through innovation and technology in this case.”

Born out of L’Oréal USA’s Connected Beauty Incubator, a new business division based out of its Research & Innovation labs in New Jersey, the app was worked on by Image Metrics, the company behind the animation for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

It uses a facial mapping algorithm which captures 64 facial data points and 100 different facial expressions, allowing the virtual makeup to move with the user as they turn their head or change their expression.

It also works in more than 400 different lighting conditions.

L'Oreal brand ambassador Eva Longoria trying the app

L’Oreal brand ambassador Eva Longoria trying the app

L’Oréal is aiming for half a million consumers to “download, experience and fall in love with the app” within the first three to four months, Woods said.

“Which per capita and population certainly matches that of China, US and France.”

When pushed on sales targets for the app, Woods said the brand has not committed to an e-commerce dollar figure for the app.

“Not specifically at this point, we have future views as an entire business as to where we believe where our percentage of online sales and that of our customers should be going but it is highly variable by retailer at the moment,” Woods said.

“So no we haven’t yet for 2015, given that we’re still working on being able to offer the service, set a clear target around the e-commerce dollar figure that the app can bring.”

When asked about potential scepticism from consumers around the app’s capability Woods said: “I’ve looked at a lot of beauty apps, we’ve produced some in the past, they’ve promised things and not delivered, and I include the group in that as well. Makeup Genius is special.

“The experience you can have once you’ve downloaded it, once you’re looking at yourself, not just a photo of yourself but a moving, live augmented-reality experience where the product be it eye makeup or lip makeup is applied to your face in realtime,” he said.

“It’s when people experience the app for first time I see the scepticism around more stunty-beauty apps of the past being overcome.”

L’Oréal are launching the product tonight with an event fronted by Megan Gale, with the brand hoping it will generate enough word of mouth and earned media to get people talking and downloading the app.

“The first and main thing is very much through word of mouth through earned media. What we want to do given that it’s an innovative digital technology is very much focus our efforts in that area, with a large face-to-face launch with key media tonight, the app is very much front and centre,” said Woods when asked on how L’Oréal would be promoting the product.

“It’s very much to get people telling people, sharing it with people. Ideally the love for the app and the noise around it will spread quite organically.

“Second to that we will underpin it with an online media spend and trying as much as possible to integrate the app into everything we do,” he added.

“Lots of media moving forward, making sure it’s got an in-store presence so when people are standing in our retailers at the point-of-purchase if they need that last moment of experiencing a product prior to putting it on or buying it then they are able to do that as well.”

While the app does posses the capability for users to purchase products online that feature will not be live at launch due to L’Oréal retailer mobile sites not being up to scratch.

“It’s true that when we launch that capability won’t be possible in the very near future which is disappointing,” admitted Woods.

“The point of perfection for consumers is to be able to experience beauty on their phones through Makeup Genius and be a few clicks away from purchasing product and then that product arrives on the doorstep. That would be perfection.

“I would hope that we are just months away from being able to deliver that with a few of our key retailers.”

Miranda Ward


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.