L’Oréal’s investment in artificial intelligence and augmented reality are paying off when it comes to consumer engagement, Robert Beredo, chief digital officer of L’Oréal Canada, told CGT, serving the beauty company well during a period of unprecedented consumer behavior shifts.
The CDO shared insight about the beauty company’s recent expansion of its ModiFace AR and AI technology to Amazon consumers in Canada, as well as its experiment with live video shopping during the pandemic.
The use of AI has been a “game changer,” Beredo said, helping the company differentiate service experiences with its brands, personalize consumer interactions, and remove friction from the shopping experience.
The tech’s benefits are multi-fold: For one, it helps the No. 14 consumer goods company capture consumer attention in the extraordinarily competitive beauty market. “It's very easy for consumers to switch between brands,” he noted, “and with the rise of celebrity or influencer-led beauty, fighting for consumers’ attention becomes so challenging.”
Providing virtual try-on services not only differentiates brand experiences, it also enables consumers to discover and experiment with products online without having to commit to a purchase — serving double duty in the consumer trust category. By offering a more hygienic method of testing makeup shades — imperative given the removal of testing samples at retail stores — AI helps provide assurance to shoppers they’ll receive the shade they seek.
This combination has helped cement consumer trust, and as a result, shoppers are taking more time to engage with L’Oréal, with the average time spent on a site with virtual try-on services three times higher for intent to purchase. Consumers are also adding to their basket twice as much vs. those who didn’t interact with a virtual try-on services.
L’Oréal Canada has accelerated its live shopping video efforts during the pandemic, partnering with Montreal start-up Livescale for live shopping events where consumers can purchase products directly from the show.
Beredo described it as the “modern day QVC format” with a shopping channel concept. “We knew consumers were at home, stores were closed, and consumers were craving and consuming content.”
Both engagement and conversion with the format have been strong, according to Beredo, and the company will continue to invest in the technology.
This is hardly the first toe L’Oreal has dipped into the AI waters. It’s also experimented with chatbots in the past, determining the tech thus far works very well for simple, low-touch, frequently asked questions and transactional queries. From this perspective, chatbots are essential for automation and cost efficiencies for a business trying to achieve scale, Beredo said.
But as questions and inquiries get more complex and personalized, L’Oreal still prefers to leverage the high-touch specialty expertise from one of its company’s trend beauty advisors.
The company is also exploring the potential of voice commerce, which Beredo said has been primarily focused on discoverability at this point. It’s trialed the technology with some of its brands and skinceuticals through a three-month proof of concept trial.
This willingness to experiment is part of L’Oreal’s strategy to remain successful during the pandemic and in the face of rapidly shifting consumer behavior by leveraging technology, especially as it pertains to consumer expectations regarding the delivery of both products and services. A big portion of the consumers who’ve shifted from brick-and-mortar to digital are expected by Beredo to stay digital; as such, much of this remains a reinforcement of the company’s mid- and long-term digital strategy, with certain projects merely accelerated.
“If consumers are shifting towards digital — and this is happening, whether naturally or whether it because of closures of certain things — we need to make sure we're providing the right experience on our digital platforms so that they can make the right decision for them,” he said. “So we will continue to accelerate our services [and] expand our engagement capabilities with things like video consultation, live shopping and further expansion of our Modiface technology.”
“We’re entering an era where companies will try new things, find new ways for consumer engagement, and I think the companies that are bold, willing to take risks, and seize opportunities will get ahead,” Beredo noted.