The fashion and beauty industries have long been early adopters in embracing new technology in order to reach consumers in a new way. In a world where their products and messages can feel both disposable and lost in a sea of competing offerings, a clear point of difference is needed to stand out.
This means that the strategies they come up with can be an interesting source of inspiration for all brands. Here are a few apps using fresh approaches to augmented reality and gamification that are ripe for transferral to other industries.
Online clothes shopping may be convenient, but can it ever replicate taking an armful of items into a changing room and trying them on as a complete outfit? Lovelooks, an app for iPad and Android tablets, is trying to do just that. Open the app and swipe through customisable columns to style your mannequin, Lola. She’s a grown-up, dress-up doll with all pieces photographed in-house by Lovelooks, ensuring a perfect fit for your virtual model.
While the end purpose of this app is sales, it presents itself as something a bit more – a space to explore, express your style and share it with the world. It’s a bit of fun; by encouraging you to play and experiment, you’re likely to spend more time in the app and discover entire outfits you actually want to buy.
Why it’s really clever, however, is that it takes an age-old offline behaviour and creates an easy, effective digital equivalent - with the added bonus that all the customer can be guided to the best buys through both their own data and the platform’s priorities. Is there a real-world customer behaviour in your industry that still doesn’t have a good-enough online proxy? If so, there’s a real opportunity there for effective innovation.
Online stores such as ASOS contain a dizzying array of items; filtering and browsing 10,000 dresses is no mean feat. US site Polyvore, known for its outfit collages, has just released Polyvore Remix, a style discovery app “powered by our global style community”.
The concept is simple – the app will generate a complete look with accessories based on a key piece. Don’t like the suggestion? Tap ‘Remix’ to generate a new suggestion (almost like a casino slot machine) or choose a specific item to replace. Then, of course, buy the lot without leaving the app.
The genius here is applying the famous iPod ‘shuffle’ option to a different service. Can you add an element of serendipity or bracing pot-luck into your digital offering?
Inspiration is all around us. ShadeScout is a new app by ‘augmented retail’ company FaceCake. The app allows you to capture a colour from the world around you and match it to their huge database of cosmetics, so you can find a lipstick in your favourite shade of doughnut. You can also try the products on virtually, adding other make-up by colour palette or brand.
Once you’ve had enough of the virtual makeover, you can purchase the lipstick and recreate it in real life. The whole process taps into the idea of make-up (and makeovers) as a hobby, with the added appeal of colour matching.
All of these apps are making use of technology to encourage users to explore in a new way. This is ‘gamification’ in the sense of in-built fun, creativity and interaction, as well as an attempt to recreate valued real life experiences in a virtual world.
Augmented reality is far from perfect – it will be a while before Lovelooks allows you to seamlessly try realistic clothes on a 3D scan of your own body (or even a virtual model that matches your measurements). However, these apps take ideas from AR alongside other interactive elements, ensuring a unique and engaging experience for the user.