L’Oréal-owned high-end skincare and beauty label Lancôme has just debuted its first-ever virtual pop-up store, exclusively for Singapore. The immersive retail experience will run from August 28th till September 20th, 2020 where consumers can access the flagship in the comfort of their own homes through a specified link.
This is not the brand’s first array with a tech-enabled store after last year’s partnership with Alibaba Cloud and its augmented reality activation at their Hong Kong pop-up.
Marrying the online and offline shopping experience, the physical store is replicated through live chatbots and pulsating hotspots within the virtual flagship to guide the consumer across its five zones: Discover, Explore, Inspire, Live and Shop. The themes are designed to encourage its customers to explore their strengths as part of their #LiveYourStrength campaign in the promotion of their 11-year-old Lancôme Advanced Genifique serum.
In the first zone ‘Discover’, consumers are invited to take a ‘Lancôme Strength-Finder Personality Test’ designed by psychologist Dr. Perpertua Neo to understand their personality across six strength archetypes – joyful optimism, fearless independence, poised composure, steadfast discipline, fiery conviction, and intrinsic wisdom. Following this towards the ‘Explore’ zone, consumers can upload a selfie and receive a skin diagnosis over a virtual consultation conducted through a live chatbot feature. The journey continues with its third ‘Inspire’ zone where 100 women share their narratives of their lived experiences. The fourth zone ‘Live’ is a live-streaming section where celebrities and influencers make a special appearance to also discuss topics of their lifestyles and personal journey with their inner strength and empowerment. Lastly, the experience ends with the ‘Shop’ where the full range of products and customization will be made available within this zone for purchasing.
“Our brands are creating more personalized and engaging consumer experiences with amazing digital services like virtual try-on, diagnostics, and live streaming – all this is building relationships between brands and consumers,” affirms Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal group’s chairman and chief executive officer.
The New Normal for Beauty Retail
The beauty industry has always been recognized to be resilient as proven through the 2008 financial crisis it had withstood, but even for L’Oréal, their recent first half of fiscal 2020 sales remained weak (EUR13.07 billion, -11.7% like-for-like) and had to rely on China and other Asia recovering markets throughout the widespread of store closures and limitations with physical shopping.
As mask-wearing consumers spend less on aesthetic purchases such as makeup, skincare continues to outperform evident from the quarantine self-care trend. Yet, as a highly personal category, hygiene is key especially at current times. Needless to say, safety measures have disrupted product testing and in-person consultations resulting in a direct drop in the purchase of color cosmetics and skincare.
However, several businesses have launched initiatives and solutions to counter this – such as British-based Boots drugstore with a flexible cosmetics returns policy due to no testing in-store, and Li & Fung-owned Meiyume had launched a range of touchless packaging and applicators for beauty testing that restrains from product contamination.
Whilst virtual stores set limitations and does not replicate the in-store branding experience and so forth, personalized services are still being offered with the aid of virtual consultations. Virtual shopping app Hero had banked in a surge of retailers utilizing their platform to empower their sales associates. During its initial launch with Estee Lauder-owned Deciem group, over 20,000 chats were initiated by customers resulting in over 1,500 shopping at home orders.
Expectedly, retailer’s digital initiatives and innovations have accelerated with actual practice implemented in-stores and offline. Going forward, digital solutions will be made more reliant as the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence has been fine-tuned to aid in the discovery of the shopper’s journey. Whilst consumers may remain cautious of high-contact services, the rise of virtual make-up consultations, alongside with contactless samples will be offered in synchronisation to supplement the omnichannel experience as the consumer becomes confident overtime to do-it-themselves at home.