With New YouCam Deal, L'Oreal Intensifies Tech Onslaught

L’Oreal, the tech-loving beauty giant, is at it again, this time partnering with YouCam Makeup, the No. 1 augmented-reality app for cosmetics.

The two previewed the connection last month at the Cannes Film Festival, offering 64 different virtual-beauty looks for fans to play with, each building on L’Oreal Paris products that can be purchased through the app. Besides being available to the hundreds of millions already using YouCam for selfies and makeup experiments, L’Oreal says it’s also putting the app to work at its beauty counters and free-standing stores.

L’Oreal already has its own AR makeup app, called Makeup Genius, which it says has 20 million downloads. But YouCam’s reach is much larger, and Millennials are crazy for its ability to help them virtually experiment with all manner of colors and styles, from purple hair to Goth-black lips. YouCam Makeup has been downloaded more than 400 million times, and Perfect, its parent, says those users create 730 million different looks each month.



L’Oreal is hardly alone in the race to win with tech-loving glamor pusses: Retail brands like Sephora and Ulta are also stepping up their tech prowess. But it’s visibly increasing its efforts, using different brands to build muscle in different technologies. 

Earlier this year, for example, it debuted the world’s first smart hairbrush, the Kérastase Hair Coach Powered by Withings, which assesses hair health, as well as a skin patch from its La Roche-Posay brand, which works with smartphones to detect the amount of UV rays the wearer is absorbing. 

This spring, it launched an artificial intelligence Facebook Messenger bot in Canada, with the U.K. to follow next, which learns more about consumers as it helps them build customized gift boxes for friends.

And L’Oreal has high hopes for personalization efforts, launching Lancôme’s Le Teint Particulier Custom Made Foundation, which uses a wand at counters to analyze skin color and then custom-blends a foundation to match. (Shiseido, L’Oreal’s Japanese rival, recently bought MatchCo, a U.S. start-up that lets users create customized foundations using mobile technology.)

In its most recent results, the French company says its sales grew 7.5%, or 5.1% on a constant-exchange-rate basis. And as it continues to ramp digital marketing efforts, e-commerce is growing, up 27% from the prior year, and now representing close to 7% of the company’s total sales.

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