This week, I take a peek at the latest AR campaign by L’Oréal Professional, which has steadily grown its sales and recently launched into Sephora.
L’Oréal Professionnel is stepping into the augmented reality world, starting with a new campaign to drive its sales in Sephora.
On Oct. 30, L’Oréal Professionnel debuted a digital billboard ad above the Sephora Times Square location in New York City. When people scan the QR code on the ad using their phone, they trigger the AR component, which shows L’Oréal Professionnel’s Metal Detox hair oil pouring forth from the ad and covering Times Square. They can also receive a free sample from L’Oréal Professionnel at Sephora, with the initial supply of a few hundred samples already running out. L’Orêal Professionnel is distributed through hair salons and, until recently, had no other distribution channel. But in August, L’Oréal Professionnel expanded to Sephora via 26 stores in the U.S. and to Sephora.com. The billboard spot will end on November 13, but the QR codes will remain live on social media until the end of November.
“[We used] augmented reality to create an experience,” said Mounia Tahiri, gm of L’Oréal Professionnel. “What was important was to use that interactive element of scanning [the QR code] to [showcase] the product’s texture.”
L’Oréal Professionnel generally boasts its tech-backed and science-backed formulations. Its 2-year-old franchise Metal Detox works by using the Glicoamine molecule, which, according to the company, is small enough to penetrate and neutralize metal. AR serves as a way to express the line via personal connection, said Tahiri.
A glance at L’Oréal Professionnel’s social channels shows other ways the brand tries to incorporate its science-focused narrative. For example, it has dozens of digital art posts inspired by outer space tied to products like its Scalp Advanced shampoo and its Steam Pod straightener.
Tahiri said the reason L’Oréal Professionnel expanded to Sephora is because the retailer has a knowledgeable shopper base looking for “cutting edge” and “technologically superior” products. Tahiri said that L’Oréal Professionnel sales grew by double-digits over the past two years. L’Oréal Group does not break out individual brand sales. Still, the Professional channel to which L’Oréal Professionnel belongs experienced a 1.4% sales growth year-over-year in the third quarter reported in October to $1.18 billion. Since the beginning of the year, the Professional channel has grown 15.3% year-over-year.
Augmented reality is by no means a new area for advertising and marketing in beauty. Recent examples include Maybelline partnering with Microsoft Teams on AR makeup in July and social media platform Snap announcing a roster of new AR features in September to court beauty advertisers. In addition, Pat McGrath Labs partnered with Google on an AR pop-up experience in October.
According to NielsenIQ, 51% of global consumers are willing to use AR technology to assess products and 56% said it gives them more confidence about the quality of a product. Furthermore, according to Harvard Business Review, citing the Journal of Marketing, customers who used AR spent 20.7% more time on an unspecified beauty retailer app and viewed 1.28 times more products, on average. More importantly, customers’ likelihood of purchasing during their usage session increased by 19.8% compared to customers who did not use AR, providing some evidence that AR can help businesses increase revenues.
“Spatial mediums like AR open new dimensions for digital experiences,” said Fredrik Frizell, founder of creative studio Buoy, which worked with L’Oréal Professionnel to create the AR ad. “The ability of the latest generation AR technology to understand the user’s surroundings means content can seamlessly adapt to and merge with the physical world. Today’s immersive AR, combined with the graphics prowess of modern devices, unlocks the potential of user participation and engagement at scale beyond that of any prior medium.”
L’Oréal Professionnel plans to track how well the AR ad drives people to Sephora.com to purchase products and if there is a correlation between the ad and in-store sales. The ad was timed to run during Sephora’s annual VIB Holiday Sales event, which runs from November 5-15. L’Oréal Professionnel partnered with influencer agency Community X SEEN to have 15 influencers create content with the interactive billboard, leading to over 60 pieces of content driving customer traffic to Sephora and offering product education. It will run a larger national campaign at the end of the year, which will likely feature additional AR features and distribute about 50,000 samples of Metal Detox oil.
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