Why Beauty Brands Should Focus on AI During COVID-19: An interview with Alice Chang, CEO of Perfect Corp

Post by 
Matthew Ryan
Published 
April 16, 2020
Beauty brands need to focus on AI during COVID-19 crisis

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, AI/AR technologies are one of the only ways that beauty brands can help consumers test their products. We expect to see an acceleration of the adoption of these technologies in the beauty industry and recommend AI/AR to be the focus of brand’s innovation budget.

Perfect Corp, is the market leader for augmented technology and artificial intelligence applications in beauty retail. The Taiwan based organization has over 800 million downloads from their collection of B2C apps and entered into a strategic partnership with Alibaba last year to be the exclusive ‘try-on’ beauty technology provider on their TMall and Taobao platforms.

Re-Hub spoke with the Perfect Corp’s CEO, Alice Chang, to understand better why and how beauty brands can embrace AI/AR during this difficult period.

Can you introduce yourself and Perfect Corp?

I am Alice Chang, the founder and CEO of Perfect Corp., the leading beauty tech solutions provider and we are the developers of the award-winning YouCam suite of apps. Perfect Corp. sits at the intersection of beauty and technology, merging advanced artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and machine learning innovation with the growing demand for enhanced, personalized omni-channel beauty shopping experience.  We have over 800 million global downloads of our YouCam suite of apps, and up to now 280 brand partners implementing our custom enterprise solutions.

Perfect Corp CEO, Alice Chang

2020 is proving to be a difficult year for all brands with regards to the COVID-19 crisis. What recommendations would you give to brands in terms of technology in order to stay competitive during this crisis?

As our physical world becomes restricted in our global fight against COVID-19, digital connections have become our lifeline. The current global health climate presents new challenges for the beauty industry as brands and retailers rely solely on online sales for the foreseeable future. Digital strategies are hardly a new concept, however the heavy reliance on them today introduces a new level of importance that requires brands to quickly rethink how to connect with their consumers digitally and re-create effective online experiences. Brands must think beyond traditional email marketing, which has quickly become overcrowded- diluting its impact, and into the realm of experiential online, finding ways to bring their brand to life in the eyes of the consumer, despite the physical divide. This means tapping into the curiosity and sense of discovery that fuels the in-store experience and finding ways to draw on those emotional human connections through digital screens. Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) technologies can help brands to introduce virtual product and look try-ons, interactive video consultations, or personalized recommendations that re-create a consumer-centric shopping experience that resonates with the online consumer.  

We noticed that Perfect Corp have been implementing quite a lot of initiatives during this crisis, such as stay at home beauty consultations. Can you give some more information on this and your motives for doing so?

As a beauty tech company, we recognize how our services can help to bridge the gap between the beauty industry and the beauty consumers during an otherwise isolating time at home. In an effort to help beauty brands connect with their consumer despite the physical divide, Perfect Corp. is offering three special digital-first programs to help establish strong internal and external connections. These services include an internal AR live training platform, YouCam A.R.T., which is a private livestream channel that allows brands to host interactive remote learning and education sessions for their companies. It also includes a complimentary license of YouCam for Web, to help indie beauty brands quickly integrate virtual try-on across their e-commerce touchpoints in order to enhance their online consumer experience. The third service is a complementary product listing for up to 100 SKUs within the YouCam Makeup app. We have seen a 32% increase in virtual try-ons in-app proving that consumers are spending more time on their phones, engaging through digital experience than ever before. We hope that by helping brands connect with their teams and their consumers across these different digital touchpoints will help alleviate some of the challenges faced during this COVID-19 pandemic.

In which other ways can beauty brands leverage AI/AR in this period of crisis?

In addition to virtual product try-on, brands can leverage AI and AR technology to re-create experiential online experiences that rival those from in-store. For example, we use AI and AR  to bring the beauty counter experience to the digital world through virtual on-demand beauty consultations in the YouCam Makeup app. The free Beauty Advisor 1-on-1 service re-imagines face to face beauty advice for the era of no-touch retail where users can connect with beauty professionals via live video chat for expert advice, virtual try-ons, and personalized recommendations.

Additionally, as our world looks to online for constant interaction, brands can find ways to use AI and AR to bring their content to life with interactive features that create a hyper-engaged experience, similar to the interactive livestream network in the YouCam Makeup app.

YouCam Beauty Advisor 1-on-1 service gives mobile users access to authentic beauty advice from industry professionals

Which beauty brands have you noticed using AI/AR or innovative technology during this crisis that have impressed you? What interesting innovations have you already seen in the beauty sector in this time?

Estee Lauder does an amazing job at integrating AI and AR technologies to amplify their consumer experience across all digital touchpoints—on their e-commerce website through virtual try-on, within the YouCam Makeup app for beauty lovers to browse, experiment, and shop, and internally through their private education channel to keep beauty and brand advisors abreast of company news and launches.

Neutrogena also pioneered the skin tech category with the relaunch of their Skin360 app which eliminated the barrier to entry posed by the need for secondary devices required by their first iteration. This newly relaunched experience delivers a seamless mobile skin analysis for a personalized branded skincare diagnostic directly through a users phone. Ha, we also worked together with them on this project.

Similarly, Sally Beauty’s personalized ColorView AI app experience plays to a consumer-centric strategy and breaks ground in the hair tech category, by matching customers with suggested products and hair color shades based on their specific preferences.  

Thanks so much Alice. Anything else to add?

Stay safe, stay hopeful, and stay connected. We are sending virtual hugs to the world and together, we will make it through this.

Key Takeaways

  • The value of beauty tech is bringing the brand and products to life in front of the users. AI/AR in beauty is to transform the level of engagement that consumers have with the brand from behind their digital screens to something that is reminiscent of the viscerality of a physical store. This is a chance for brands to build real human connections with their consumers.
  • While most consumers are staying away from stores, brands need to focus on their digital offerings.Traditional marketing strategies such as emails are outdated and brands should be thinking outside of the box and leverage AI/AR to introduce virtual products, hold interactive video consultations and try-ons.
  • Consumers are spending more time on their phones than ever before and strategies need to be mobile-centric.

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