Beauty & Balance

Digital Download: Estée Lauder Brings AI Shade-Matching Tool to Stores

Estée Lauder is ramping up shade-matching technology in stores. 
The brand has launched a new in-store app, called iMatch Virtual Shade Expert, that uses Perfect Corp.'s YouCam Makeup virtual try-on artificial intelligence technology to help shoppers match their Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation. Previously, counters offered shade matching via technology that needed workers to scan customer skin in three areas. With the new technology, customers can shade match themselves.
Stéphane de La Faverie, global brand president for Estée Lauder, said iMatch is a first-to-market app for precision foundation shade detection.
"It's not about just technology for the sake of technology. What we are developing for the Estée Lauder brand is technology to enhance the consumer experience," de La Faverie said. "Today, we are leveraging tools to really make sure we can engage with the consumer in an even more meaningful way around the world."
The iMatch technology is rolling out in the U.S., the U.K. and Japan now, and is expected to be in more than 30 countries in the next six months, according to de La Faverie.
The iMatch rollout follows Estée Lauder and YouCam's development of a virtual try-on tool for lipstick, where customers can try on 30 shades in 30 seconds.
De La Faverie noted that over time, customers have become more engaged with the lipstick try-on option.
"We have over 8,000 devices around the world now allowing the virtual try-on for lipstick and what we've seen is the increased use of the tool over time as consumers get more and more comfortable," de La Faverie said. Online, customers who use the tool have a 2.5-times higher conversion rate, according to the company.
For Estée Lauder, iMatch comes at a time of brand success. After a period of struggling, the team has turned the business around through focusing on hero franchises like Double Wear and Advanced Night Repair. Technology has played a role in that success, too, de La Faverie said.
By rolling out iMatch, he expects to see higher engagement, but also higher sales, he noted. "We already see a lift in lip…our objective is to do the same thing with foundation," he said. Double Wear, the brand's best-selling foundation, is up first, but the technology will be applied to other foundation ranges in the future.
YouCam's technology has color-calibrated LED lighting to mimic natural sunlight in order to get the most accurate match. The app also provides consumers with information on lighter, darker, warmer and cooler shades, so they can choose a foundation based on color preference or season.
"We don't want to force something on to the consumer, we want to tell them exactly what we believe based on the moment what is the right shade, but give also the ability to the consumer to say, 'I want to be a little bit darker, I want to be a little bit lighter,'" de La Faverie said.
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