tech

Can Pinterest’s AR Beauty Tools Replace the Beauty Counter?

“[I]t’s likely shoppers will never try makeup on in a store again,” said Jeremy King, SVP of Engineering at Pinterest.
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Pinterest

· 3 min read

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One year after bringing digital lipstick swatches to the masses via augmented reality (AR), Pinterest is back with a second shoppable testing tool for eyeshadow.

Same purpose: For shoppers, it’s providing a safe space to relearn that fuchsia glitter belongs on Euphoria. For beauty brands, it’s building an interactive online shopping experience to secure more sales.

  • Pinterest users can test more than 4,000 eyeshadow shades from brands including Thrive Causemetics, Urban Decay, and bareMinerals. They can also coordinate eyeshadows with lipsticks from Pinterest’s catalog of 10,000 lip shades.
  • If shoppers like what they test, they can directly purchase the item within the Pinterest app.

Different reality: Last January, AR was an at-home complement to an in-store experience. Now, beauty counters are covered in plastic wrap.

That altered how Pinterest approached its AR evolution, Jeremy King, SVP of Engineering at Pinterest, told Retail Brew. “As more retailers were bringing their products online and shoppers were in need of easily browsable shopping experiences that mirrored the discovery they could find in-store, we made improvements to catalog ingestion and product discovery,” King said.

  • Pinterest also worked on the tech’s ability to recommend products for multiple skin tones and to detect faces wearing a mask.

Results so far? Pinterest users try an average of six lipstick shades once they’re in AR mode—and they’re 5x more likely to show purchase intent after using the tools. Between March and September, Pinterest users interacting with shopping tools had increased more than 85%.

Swatches to watch

Tech companies want to make AR shopping happen more than they want to clone TikTok. L’Oréal has released digital try-on tools across Snapchat and Instagram, and Google launched an AR search function for beauty products.

But there’s a discovery delay: According to an October Bizrates Insights and eMarketer study, only 1% of US adults tap AR to help them make a purchase.

Unrealized potential: The pandemic provided the use-case, but it hasn’t determined whether shiny AR tech will have a lasting impact on online shopping—yet.

“[I]t’s likely shoppers will never try makeup on in a store again,” King told Retail Brew. “Brands are experimenting with ways to reimagine online shopping while people can’t go in store, and those learnings and advancements will carry on even after quarantine ends.”

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