Beauty, like almost every industry these days, is riding the wave of mobile revolution. From the titans who have survived decades of change (such as L’Oreal, founded in 1909) to younger upstarts (such as Glossier, spun out of a beauty blog in 2014), the whole industry is taking advantage of the new possibilities that native mobile apps can provide.
It’s easy to see why: mobile apps find customers wherever they are. Mobile apps are the best way for consumers to find what they need, from the products themselves to the titanic amount of content generated by brands and influencers.
There’s no getting around the data. The beauty industry drove over $62 billion in 2016 just in the United States. Beauty consumers aged 18-44 use their mobile devices more than any other resource to consume beauty content, and 63% of users in this group use their mobile device to make the best decisions when they shop in-store.
It’s easy to see why, literally – the visual focus of apps like Snapchat and Instagram are well-aligned with industry’s necessary image-based emphasis. These apps are also well-lent to community-building, which is important for users who value recommendations and reviews as a part of their consumer decision-making. Almost four out of every five beauty buyers use their mobile device to get such social information while they are in-store.
Technological innovation has given mobile-driven companies the ability to deliver comparable interactivity through chatbots, and many beauty brands have embraced this feature through their own apps or through larger solutions like Facebook Messenger. Dior recently launched Dior Insider, which uses Messenger to deliver premium content. More importantly, Dior Insider is aligned across channels; and users are encouraged to continue their experience with the brand by visiting a Dior counter in-person.
Augmented Reality is another mobile feature that beauty brands are taking up. AR allows you to try-before-you-buy in the beauty world, enabling users to test many different brands at once at no cost and without having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Industry leader L’Oreal has expanded their commitment to AR in their marketing as well, partnering with AR firm ModiFace back in the summer of 2016. Since then, the flagship brand and a number of its subsidiaries have launched multiple AR apps, like L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius app and YouCam Makeup. Sephora is another industry leader to venture into the AR game, recently adding a AR-aligned app to its mobile suite. The app delivers makeup tutorial-type content, of a piece with the YouTube genre that many turn to for help.
Chatbots and AR help solve a basic problem in the beauty space – the product selection is gigantic and can be overwhelming to parse for the average consumer, making it difficult for new products and innovations to take root.
It’s a large and competitive market, and mobile apps have become a critical part of it. Through mobile, brands can deliver a personalized experience that feels luxurious and elegant no matter the price point of the actual products. It’s what mobile users have come to expect in an omni-channel world, and it’s a way for brands to build the relationships and user connections that are essential to standing out in a crowded space.