This week, we take a look at Ulta Beauty’s introduction of in-store VR technology. Plus: Dior’s new skin-care ambassador Sean Garrette, Shiseido’s reported data breach and Sephora’s entry into a new personal care category.
For Ariana Grande’s R.E.M. Beauty launch at Ulta Beauty, the brand is leaning into its futuristic aesthetic with an in-store Oculus headset experience.
Customers at five Ulta Beauty locations in Chicago, Burbank, Dallas, and New York’s Upper East Side and Herald Square can virtually play with R.E.M. Beauty products via in-store Oculus headsets added specifically for the April 17 launch. Available through May 22, this is Ulta Beauty’s first in-store VR promotion and was promoted by Grande demonstrating the headset on her Instagram account on launch day.
“The idea of this experience was to bring to life the story of the brand in a very immersive way,” said Agustina Sartori, senior director of experience and digital innovation at Ulta Beauty. The retailer was looking for “brands that tell a story” for its first in-store VR promotion, and R.E.M. Beauty’s outer-space theme fit the bill.
When customers put on the headset, they are transported to a VR outer-space experience with Grande’s music as the soundtrack. They can click on floating products, including the brand’s eyeliner, lipstick and eyeshadow, and virtually swatch them in the sky. The headset will be sanitized between each use. Products can also be tested from the in-store display.
“We’re able to use gamification to educate the features and benefits of each of the products, which makes the process of learning about the brand new, fun and fresh for the Ulta Beauty guest,” said Alex Alston, global vp of R.E.M. Beauty.
According to Alston, the expansion to Ulta Beauty was a “natural step” for the brand, given the fact that Grande’s fragrances are also sold through the retailer. Launched in November 2021, the brand was sold exclusively through its DTC site prior to launching at Ulta Beauty. It is making its foray into physical retail because “Ariana understands how important it is that people have the ability to touch, feel, play and test products live, and what a central part of the brand experience that is,” said Alston.
For those more reliant on e-commerce, there is also a mobile component to the campaign. Users can scan a QR code on the retailer’s website or in-store to have the products appear in 3D AR through Ulta Beauty’s experimental Beauty X app. They can tap products for more details and a link to purchase on Ulta Beauty’s website.
“The lines of the digital and physical technologies are blurred today,” said Sartori. “We know consumers crave the digital-physical, emotional experience.”
The Oculus is a key component of Meta’s vast ambitions for the future of the metaverse, which is Mark Zuckerberg’s new focus following the October 2021 rebrand from Facebook. Ulta Beauty is currently in discussion internally about creating experiences for the Oculus app store that can be accessed by all Oculus users at home.
“You could say this is an expression of the metaverse,” said Sartori, because it is “connecting the virtual and physical.”
Brands have begun to embrace Oculus for shopping purposes. In November, Dyson created a virtual Oculus showroom for users to “test” products.
Sartori has been working on innovation for Ulta Beauty since the retailer acquired her AR beauty company GlamST in 2018. The team has worked on a variety of AR projects, including virtual try-on and Ulta Beauty’s shoppable Snapchat AR lens introduced in January this year.
In addition to the VR and AR experiences, R.E.M. Beauty is also be available for virtual try-on on Ulta Beauty’s Glamlab virtual try-on feature on its site and app.
For VR at Ulta Beauty, this is just the beginning. “Ulta Beauty exists to disrupt the status quo,” said Sartori. “We will continue to innovate and launch new experiences that help us express our brand and brands we carry.”
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Dior names skinfluencer Sean Garrette as skin-care ambassador. The esthetician was previously in a similar role for Fenty Skin and is Dior’s second-ever skin-care ambassador.
Shiseido U.K. suffers a data breach. First revealed by Estée Laundry, Shiseido’s U.K. employees are reportedly suffering widespread identity theft issues due to a data breach of the company’s HR system. Employees are reportedly having bank accounts, fake companies and loans being taken out in their names after address information, passport and ID images were stolen.
Sephora goes further into personal care. The lines between personal care and beauty continue to blur as Sephora launches razors for the first time with 1-year-old razor brand Hanni. The razors launched on Sephora.com on April 12 and will be in 251 physical stores starting on April 26.