Estee Lauder is testing out an augmented reality app for employee training

After a year of ramping up its digital efforts for consumers, the Estée Lauder brand is internalizing that mission by launching an augmented reality app to help train its sales force around the world.

The program, called “Estée Lauder Augmented Reality Training” was made in partnership with Perfect Corp and is available through the tech company’s YouCam makeup app. Thus far, Perfect Corp’s overall work with brands has been strictly consumer-facing, partnering with companies like L’Oréal and Elizabeth Arden to facilitate virtual product try-on for shoppers.

“This is the future of beauty education and training,” said Alice Chang, the CEO of Perfect Corp.

Although it’s specific to Estée Lauder’s flagship brand for now, Chang hinted that the program could be a blueprint for other brands down the line. It would be particularly well-suited to sibling brands under The Estée Lauder Companies umbrella, like MAC, for example, which could use it not just for sales associates, but also for those who are part of its Pro membership program.

The program in action

The interactive technology allows the company to hold live, monthly training sessions for its over 17,000 sales associates around the world. Each one will be hosted by a member of Lauder’s Global Education team and will focus on either new product introduction or step-by-step tips for achieving a certain look. The associates watching are able to ask questions, virtually try on the looks themselves, add comments and send “likes” (appearing on screen as the Estée Lauder icon).

The Global Education team has long been responsible for training Estée Lauder’s employees on product usage and best practices. The new digital sessions are an extension of the brand’s in-person demonstrations (which do not follow a strict schedule), and are voluntary to attend, said vice president of global education, Colleen Gaetano. They will be saved onto the app for users to revisit outside of the live-viewing period.

According to Chang, social media live streams were a direct inspiration for the app, despite the fact that it’s accessible only to Estée Lauder employees. Indeed, the result looks very similar to Instagram Live, complete with a video that fills the mobile screen and a comment feed that continuously scrolls at the bottom.

“The trainings are meant to be fun and engaging,” she said, noting that they added the “like” button for that very reason. “It’s an effective way for the audience to react to elements of the training they love, and it helps provide a good sense of morale and comradeship.”

The program in action

While “likes” and comments allow the company to track how popular a certain session was, it can also track performance via the number of attendees and the length of time that viewers were engaged, which may help it tweak future trainings to be more popular and helpful. Survey buttons will also invite users to weigh in on those factors.

The app is the third installment of a global partnership between YouCam and Estée Lauder, which began this past April. That month, they celebrated the launch of Lauder’s “Pure Color Love” lipstick by enabling shoppers to try on all 30 shades via the YouCam Makeup app. They’ve since added more products to the app. The virtual try-on technology has also been installed on 800 devices across the brand’s stores.

Earlier this month, the companies also worked together to debut a new “Look Transfer” technology, which allows users to transfer shades seen on models in surrounding ad campaigns to their own faces. The tool was tested at an influencer launch event for the Pure Color Envy liquid lip color, and will roll out for consumers in store and via the YouCam app early next year.

The AR tutorials mark a series of digital activations for Estée Lauder, with a number of partners. The company has also worked with ModiFace on a virtual try-on chatbot, as well as virtual try-on capabilities for e-commerce. In November, they became one of the first beauty brands to partner with Google Home on a voice-enabled app called the “Estée Lauder Nighttime Expert,” which offers product recommendations and skin-care tips.

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